Architecture for Fortuny

Philip Johnsons Brick House

When one space is delineated, two are created. Outside wouldn’t be outside if there were no inside to define it. Drawing lines gives structure and creates thresholds and boundaries that both hold us and compel us. Architecture is the human art and design of these structures, both inside and out.

Textiles have long figured into the architecture of interiors. Initially for practical reasons like insulation or to hide imperfections, and increasingly, solely for decoration. At its most refined, the application of textiles to architecture approaches an art.

The aesthetic qualities of a well-designed and beautifully colored fabric is an obvious choice for bringing special interest to a room. Upholstered walls or other architectural features can provide a soft backdrop for hard lines and wooden or lacquered surfaces; its texture a great juxtaposition to metal or glass. The scale and contrast of the print may help to make a small room feel larger or a large room cozier. Upholstered walls can also have acoustic benefits, enhancing the quality within and muffling sound without.

Santa Eufemia on Giudecca in Venice

The columns of Santa Eufemia on Giudecca in Venice upholstered in Glicine red and gold.

The Fortuny clad columns of the Santa Eufemia on Giudecca in Venice demonstrate the transformative power of unconventional fabric upholstery. Brought out only for certain holidays and festivals, the Glicine red and gold fabric was donated by the Countess to Santa Eufemia decades ago and continues to distinguish the daily liturgy from the church’s important feasts. There are numerous applications for fabric in the architecture of a space, both functional and ornamental.

Apart from wall upholstery, drapery and window treatments can be used to frame settings, elongate a wall, and generally draw your eye to or embellish existing design lines. Executed around picture windows or giving privacy or intrigue to a niche, the addition of fabric enhances the drama the design constructs. The right architectural use of fabric can turn chintzy toopulence or make minimalist sleek rather than cold.

Felice Ciancarelli Photo by Erik Svalsvik

Veronese in warm french brown & gold
creates a dramatic frame for this picture window. Window design and upholstery by Felice Ciancarelli. Photo by Erik Svalsvik.

New shapes and designs are also formed when the design of the pattern interacts with the architecture of the object. Seen in simple decisions like how a pattern is cropped or matched for a pillow or in more complex treatments, such as the upholstered legs and supports of a table or chair.

Fortuny fabrics are equally at home on sofas, bedding, and other soft upholstery, as they are when applied to enhance the architectural features of any room. Because what’s the fun of going inside, if it isn’t as equally alluring as the world outside.

Related stories