Behind the Scenes: A Look into our Design Process

Have you ever wondered how fabric designs come to fruition? From the initial spark of an idea to the moment the fabric is presented to a customer, an intricate process occurs. The design team at Milliken Specialty Interiors explains it here:

Initial Inspiration

The things that inspire a designer are as individual and unique as their personalities. We believe it’s important to have a variety of contributors to our aesthetic so that our customers get a broader scope of work. Some designers are touched by nature, world movements, or may look to art exhibits and emerging artists. “Nature has been a great inspiration with shapes of grass, stones, sand, etc. I also like to travel to new places when I can to shop in stores for inspiration for pattern and color,” says Milliken Designer, Carma Jordan.

Other designers find ideas through scouting thrift shops, curating mementos from their travels and shopping, or through looking for trend movements in other industries. “I often get an idea of what I want to do from looking at retail ads and shopping. I like to shop furniture stores, thrift stores, fabric libraries, and fabric stores,” states Milliken Designer, Elizabeth Stuart.

A Collaborative Approach

While every company is different in their design approach, the design team at Milliken Specialty Interiors takes their initial spark of an idea to a collaborative table where the rest of the development, sales, and manufacturing team considers it. Together, we discuss marketing’s research, customer feedback from our sales team, and trends that the group is seeing in the industry. This information allows us to decide which products and ideas are most important to the markets we serve.

Once the ideation has been set in motion, designers look at the tools they have at their fingertips and decide if those will create the best representation of what the customer needs, or if they need to source a new tool. For Milliken Specialty Interiors, our tools are the yarns we use, the machinery we have available, and the color research we’ve gathered. Once we have what we need, the product development process begins.

Product Development

A series of prototypes are created for each fabric idea we consider. It’s not unusual to trial 20-40 ideas at once, knowing that only a portion of those will make the final cut and be shown to our customers. These prototypes will go through the CAD process in design, where the 3D part of fabric development takes place for woven and knit products, or a coloration process takes places for prints. Those components are then sent to the proper machines where small samples of the prototypes are made. Once a physical sample is in hand, the entire team reviews it and considers whether the original customer intent has been met. If not, tweaks will be made and the whole series of development repeats.

Once we are excited about the concept and decide to bring it to our customers, a series of tests are performed in our labs that will ensure the customer that these fabrics are not only beautiful but built to last. Milliken Specialty Interiors follows the ACT (Association for Contract Textiles) Performance Guidelines or the industry standards for residential fabrics, depending on the market the final product will serve. If it’s a fabric that will crossover into both markets, the more rigorous testing standards will be used.

Finally, the fabric launches to the world! What has taken weeks or months to create is taken out to our customers for feedback and possible sales opportunities. Since the sales force has been involved from the beginning, they can go into the market with confidence that we are bringing our customers not only what they need and may have asked for, but what is up-and-coming in the marketplace. With the ability to work with a wide variety of customers throughout all industries, Milliken Specialty Interiors is proud to offer our customers a unique perspective that they can’t get from within their own organization alone. To find out more about our products, please visit www.millikenspecialtyinteriors.com.




Category: Innovation