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Event Recap: Swatch Watch with MWI Fibershield Part 2

Joanne Lee

And here we continue going over the seminar hosted by MWI Fibershield on fabric protection and setting expectations on what fabric protection can realistically do for you and your clients. 

MWI Fibershield has become a team member in many interior design projects. They allow you and your client to make an educated decision with regards to fabric and help you by servicing your client should any accidents occur if they are based in the Greater Boston area. 

Understanding fabric composition is equally important as getting your fabric protected. Wayne below, goes into an example where a client wanted to get this white fabric cleaned which was composed of linen/cotton/viscose and although the pile did not change with wet cleaning, there was a very distinct cellulose change due to the fabric composition which made it a highly sensitive fabric to water. It caused a discoloration in the material. 

So, now your probably want to know what fabrics can you really use that would be great for fabric protection and will actually hold up to wet cleaning afterwards. In our Q&A after the seminar, one of the audience members raised this question as well and Wayne goes over certain fabrics in the video below that are more durable and hold up well with fabric protection and wet cleaning. 

Another burning question that came up during Q&A was whether or not it's even necessary to protect fabrics that are already marketed as protected fabrics such as Sunbrella. Personally, Wayne really likes Sunbrella! He thinks it is extremely wet cleaning friendly and the materials it is composed of hold up really well and show minimal change when protected and wet cleaned. He gave an example of a client who purchased a white/tan sunbrella upholstered sofa. She had a dog that rubbed up against it a lot and within two weeks of owning it, it looked really dirty. She tried to get a damp cloth and clean the entire sofa herself but it wasn't getting any cleaner. MWI Fibershield came in and was able to restore the piece for her and protect it as well. 

The event was extremely informative and we are so excited to be able to partner with Wayne and MWI Fibershield in providing this service to our clients. 

Event Recap: Swatch Watch with MWI Fibershield - Part 1

Joanne Lee

Working with MWI Fibershield to protect all the fabrics offered by Dowel Furniture gives our clients peace of mind knowing that their furniture is properly protected and should any accidents or spills occur, you will have a much higher chance of getting stains out professionally and if you live in the Greater Boston area, MWI Fibershield themselves will come to service your product should you need the assistance. 

We had our partner at MWI Fibershield, Wayne Southworth come to host a seminar at our pop-up showroom on fabric protection and what that really means. What results you can expect from protecting your fabric and what are your options when accidents happen. 

All fabric, according to Wayne, does not become invincible once it is protected. A lot of people think that if they get their fabric protected, it is instantly impervious to all damage, however, that is not accurate as it all depends on each person's situation. Wayne goes into more detail in the video clip below. Specifically, discussing what are things you should watch out for. He gives some good examples on what could happen to higher risk fabric such as velvet or chenille, where even if they are protected, in order to get a stain out, they must be wet cleaned, which then affects the pile or feel of the fabric once it has been exposed to liquids. There is no fabric protector on earth that will prevent pile change once a fabric is wet. Although, there are certain fabrics that will hold up better after getting professionally wet cleaned. Some clients know that there will be an alteration of the material so they request, instead of a spot treatment, to have the entire piece wet cleaned so as to keep the fabric change uniform throughout.

In the seminar, Wayne offers designers some advice on how to approach fabric protection and choosing fabrics with their clients. He says its all about knowing your client, in that initial meeting, assessing their home, what they currently have, how they live, if they have pets or kids. Making them aware of the limitations and upkeep of fabric that they are interested in and setting expectations properly. Wayne's company, MWI Fibershield, has been servicing the New England area for the past 28 years and are a great teammate to have in choosing fabrics because you can get whatever fabrics you want to pitch to your client and get them tested by MWI Fibershield even before showing them to your client. And at that point in time, once you show your client what the options are, you all can make an educated decision on what level of care they are willing to deal with in terms of fabric maintenance because eventually, spills or stains will happen since most people aren't living in museums.

He then goes into cleaning codes for fabrics. Most of which say Cleaning Code S, meaning dry solvent cleaning only. He mentions that fabric manufacturers label their fabrics this way so as not to be held liable for stains that don't come off but most of the time, stains and spills will not come out with dry solvent cleaning and the only way to get it out is through professional wet cleaning. He also mentions in this next video clip, that even wet cleaning a protected fabric doesn't always work especially with highly acidic materials such as pet feces or vomit, etc. Because of the acidic nature of the liquid, it just reacts with the natural fibers and will be less likely to come out. 

Check out more of the seminar in Part 2 of Swatch watch - click this link for Part 2. 

The Making of the Bois et Couleur Collection Part 2 - The Production and Revisions Phase

Joanne Lee

After the drawings were finalized, it was then up to our engineering team to get proper renderings and measurements of the pieces so as to make them structurally sound and as beautiful as the drawings that Barbara had made for us. There was some back and forth with construction questions from the factory, how the arms should flow, back support, comfort with the arm height, the pitch of the seat and back of the chair, the oval of the Parisienne and how it couldn't be too skinny of an oval but not quite too close to a circle either.

Simultaneously with engineering the pieces, we were also, along with Barbara, choosing the finishes and fabrics that would be used with the collection. There were a lot of powerpoint slides going back and forth between all of us with commentary on which textiles made sense both with regards to aesthetics as well as with cost. We needed to make sure that the cost of the fabric would not take the chair to an unreasonable price point as our brand is all about offering high quality pieces at a fair price to our consumer. We loved the fabrics she selected to complement her collection from high quality fabric houses like The Romo Group, Schumacher, Kravet, Duralee and Quadrille. At this point, since we wanted the collection to be durable and long-lasting, we decided to invest the time and money to research on fabric protection and are offering easy-care fabrics from Romo as well as working in tandem with MWI Fibershield, a fabric protection company in Boston, MA to protect the remaining fabric options we chose. We even had their founder, Wayne Southworth, come in to teach a seminar on fabric protection and what to say and how to manage expectations with your clients. See clips of his seminar in this link.

Once we had finished the engineering of the chairs, we went into production at our factory. As our manufacturing operations are based out of the Philippines at our 30 year old family owned factory, we had to communicate largely by e-mailing photos of certain parts of the furniture pieces and discussing at length over the phone. After all the back and forth, we were finally ready to inspect some actual physical samples. We sent unfinished wooden frames of each of the items to Barbara's office in Concord, MA and even assembled a few of the items there. She was able to sit on most of them and try them out prior to us finalizing the samples for full on production with upholstery. We all went through them with a fine toothed comb at her office, inspecting from noon to night, looking for improvements and adjustments that could be made prior to the final samples being completed for the collection launch at the Boston Design Center. 

Check out more photos of our pop-up showroom at the Boston Design Center here.