In Conversation With Dorothy Casonas of Knoll Textiles


Dorothy Cosonas came to Knoll in 2005 as the Creative Director of both KnollTextiles and KnollLuxe, winning awards right from the get-go. In honor of the launch of the latest collection of KnollLuxe, which celebrates its ten year anniversary, we sat down with her to talk about Prince Hairy, World Piece, and where she finds her inspiration.

All Star’s evolution from the runway at Raf Simons for Calvin Klein to upholstery

I understand you often look to fashion for your inspiration in designing the collection. Can you explain a little bit about how that works?

We look at what’s coming down the runway and rather than do a literal translation, we take that language and move it forward in a way that feels right for an interior. World Piece, for instance, is based on camouflage which you’re seeing everywhere but we’re taking it to a new level with unexpected color combinations and the fact that it’s embroidered. So you have a dry cotton ground and then the embroidery yarn is a high sheen Rayon. So it’s sort of working with a basic idea. And then how do we make it interesting through color, texture and pattern.

World Piece’s style evolution from the runway at Junya Watanabe to upholstery

What about color? Are you looking to fashion for inspiration there? That would seem challenging because the ‘it’ color changes from season to season.

I always say we’re in the beauty business. You can have the most beautiful pattern but if it’s not colored properly it’s not going to sell. Color is very important to us. It doesn’t have to be bright but it has to be clear and clean and saturated.

Prince Hairy’s evolution from the runway at Ermengildo Zegna to upholstery

Place and taste play such a role in what people like. How do you get around that?

Color is very personal to people. They have an immediate reaction. And the light in places can be very different. NY is very gray and then I come to Los Angeles and I get to appreciate the sky! So a challenge for us is understanding that and giving people enough choice that they’ll be able to find something they like to satisfy their project.

TwoFold’s evolution from the runway at Alexander McQueen to drapery fabrics

What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in your time at Knoll?

One of the biggest change is the digital aspect of textiles is increasingly coming into play which allows us to do amazing things and speed up our turnaround. For instance, if you look at Trove [a wallpaper], that’s digitally printed. It’s all based on a watercolor effect and then translated it into digital. We couldn’t have done that ten years ago. And now people are more worried about durability. They want a soft hand or for it to feel like linen or cotton or jute but they want it to wear like metal. So we try to satisfy that with finishes and restructures and weaving. So what we can do and the technology aspect has changed a lot. But classic weaving is still good old classic weaving. That hasn’t changed in thousands of years.

I noticed that the names are very unusual. You’ve got World Piece and Prince Hairy.

Yes! You know we’re never allowed to repeat a name at Knoll Textiles. So if something was designed in 1980 and is called Lucy, you can’t use that again. So you have to constantly come up with new names. World Piece alludes to the pieces and shapes and Prince Hairy refers to the fabric’s texture.

What are some of the things that people come to you for?

Textured textiles are important. People love them because they hide the sins of everyday living. And people love our solids. They come in such a wide, beautiful range of colors and they’re treated with a stain resist.

It feels like we’re having a 70s moment.

Oh definitely! The rusts and mustards and browns. And then also the European push of the pinks still and muted tones. When we do those lighter tones, we try to make sure that they’re not sweet. Particularly with the pinks, we try to gray them out a little bit, not to muddy them out but just to tone them down and make them feel a little bit more universal. And we’re experimenting with combinations, like apricot and sky blue, that we wouldn’t have seen five or six years ago. And I think we’re going to see a lot more metallics, like gold and silver, in fabrics.

Wow! Insider information! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Thank you. I love fabric and I love hearing people’s thoughts about fabric. You know it’s always going to be an art, never a science.

You can see the latest collection of Knoll Fabrics at The Knoll Home Design Shop,  314 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048., Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm, 310-620-2680. This article has been edited for length and clarity.

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