One sultry July morning, several members of the Bruce Andrews Design team trekked to Sea Island to see the luxurious new products being launched by Kravet. The setting in which the textiles were unveiled, The Cloister, was as sumptuous as the debuting offerings, which were presented by Scott Kravet, a fourth-generation member of the company’s founding family. A pattern language developed as the room filled with designers running their hands over the textiles and jotting notes about their favorites.
Kravet Unveils New Products
It was a delightful way to spend a morning given Scott’s lively personality. He described his travels around the world visiting mills and historically significant textile manufacturers as his role in charge of product development. He drew a hearty spate of laughter when he explained that his family script was rather like the end of Fiddler on the Roof given his grandfather, a successful tailor in Russia, established himself in America and then brought his four sons from their former homeland to help the brand flourish. And flourish it has!
As the products were unfolded one by one, it was a visual feast of novelty embroidery, chenille, polished cottons, strie, French linens and crushed tie-died velvets. He shared new releases for a number of the company’s notable lines, including Kate Spade, Candice Olson, Aerin Lauder for Lee Jofa, and Lily Pulitzer; and announced the company’s new app, which he described as Shazam for fabric! Snap a photo of a sample you are hoping to find or emulate and the app will pull up comparable patterns.
A Pattern Language
Pattern was a key word for the day, and not just in the textiles we were seeing, The Cloister was filled with beautiful motifs left and right. It was 1926 when automobile magnate Howard Coffin bought the property and had Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner design the original Cloister Hotel. Coffin then turned the management of it over to his cousin, Alfred W. Jones, who inherited the property upon Coffin’s death in 1937.
From the start, it was a popular destination spot for roaring twenties luminaries, but it was in 1928 when President Calvin Coolidge decided to spend his Christmas holiday on Sea Island when the property gained national attention. Coffin envisioned a residential community there, encouraging visitors to build cottages nearby. Eugene O’Neill responded to the call, writing the play Ah, Wilderness! while in residence on the island.
The resort survived the Great Depression, unlike many other storied properties, and in 2003, A.W. “Bill” Jones III began a complete restoration of the Cloister building. It took three years to complete as the hotel was demolished and replaced with a more luxurious structure that echoed the look and feel of the original design.
As we walked around the statuesque Spanish Revival-style main spaces after the Kravet event, I couldn’t help but think, “If these walls could talk” given that events like the 2004 G8 summit had taken place there! The beauty of the surroundings were furthered by the patterns sprinkled around the interiors—Turkish carpets, tufted embroidered upholstery; and receding archways in most every direction teased the eye farther and farther away.
The massive stone pillars, a proliferation of palms, and touches such as the presence of live birds in sizable cages coalesced to create a gracious Mediterranean feel—a mix of old world European charm and coastal sophistication perfect for the natural setting. As I snapped photos of the sumptuous upholstery fabrics on the hotel furniture, I thought about Scott’s revelation that the company’s archives in Bethpage hold over 31,000 pieces of art, and that the archives in England equal over 30,000 specimens used for modern interpretations of historic patterns, which are painstakingly turned into textiles. I can’t wait to visit one or both of these storehouses of important artifacts to see them for myself!
I asked Scott how the company keeps tabs on what direction to take with new releases. “Our research comes from the museum shows, such as Manus x Machina now on view at the MET,” he answered; “and from the runways during the varied fashion weeks around the globe. That said, many of our products are driven by the brands themselves—they know exactly what design they are wanting and we know the construction. It’s the perfect partnership.” And speaking of remarkable partnerships, the Curated Kravet series, which he reported has been a boon for the company’s already dynamic engagement with design influencers, has been seriously fun to experience!
As Bruce and I were talking about the variety of new releases we had seen that morning, he commented how interesting it was to have seen Eastern European techniques that had only been used on silks in the past being made relevant for other types fabrics: “The company is bringing new technology to old-world techniques so that they can be used on more durable fabrics suitable for furniture, and I find that very exciting!”
We’d like to thank Scott and Kravet for enticing us to the beautiful resort and for sharing with us the wonderful new releases in store for those of us who love sumptuous design.
This post, A Pattern Language, © Bruce Andrews Design, all rights reserved. Our furniture is now available through Nandina Home in Aiken, SC; Jalan Jalan in Miami, FL; Travis & Company in ADAC in Atlanta; and the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Dallas, TX. We will soon be showing in the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Houston and in the Michael-Cleary showroom in Chicago, IL.