Display techniques for fabric collectors


Q: I have collected shawls, scarves and bits and pieces of fabric throughout the years and in my travels to various parts of the world. As you might gather, I'm fascinated by textiles. But I still need your advice as to how some of them might best be displayed as decorative objects in my home.

A: I, too, suffer from textile mania. And like you, I'm forever looking for new ways to display wonderful examples of the weaver's or embroiderer's art.

You probably already know that priceless antique textiles should probably be kept in a dark and temperature-controlled environment. Less valuable pieces, however, can be used in natural ways to decorate an interior while remaining accessible to the touch. Remember, a home is not a museum. And therefore there's no reason why you or a visitor should not succumb to the temptation to touch a beautiful textile.

The photo provides some examples of how your own collection might be displayed. This is truly a model setting, since it serves both as a by-appointment showroom for designers and, simultaneously, as the New York apartment of Francoise Nunnalle, a renowned collector of rare fabrics. Here, laces, linens and other textiles have been made into shawls, runners and covers for pillows and small pieces of furniture.

Please note that the furnishings treated in this manner are both contemporary and antique.

As this illustration suggests, shawls can be used not solely as a means of disguising the size of a grand piano, they may also be casually draped over sofas and chair seats. This touch helps to relax the look of formal seating, while making it appear less uncomfortable than is often the case in reality.

A large decorative embroidery or tapestry can make a stunning addition to a room simply by hanging it from a pole affixed to a wall. That's a technique employed by many textile collectors. It's less common -- but at least as effective -- to stretch and frame a few small pieces of fabric so that, when grouped together, they ** make a dramatic design statement.

Long pieces of fabric can be turned into decorative runners and placed across a table, either with or without other interesting objects as accompaniments. A console or a library table outfitted in this manner will appear to have taken on an extra dimension.

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