Back to Basics Inspirations

03.02.2012 § 1 Comment

Spring 2012 Back to Basics: Zinnia & Plein AirThe spring 2012 collection developed around a desire to create things that possess a tranquil quality. We are introducing soft textures and subtle patterns, many within our Brentano Green line. There are high performing patterns too like Plein Air and Zinnia (above), but in my mind, the idea of tranquility connects most closely with green mindfulness.

When I was looking for weavers with environmental protections in place, I found a Belgian linen mill whose product is third party certified (Oeko-Tex Standard). At one time flax plants used to be soaked in rivers for the retting process. “Retting” is a process necessary for rotting away the wooden core of a plant so the fiber can be separated from it. Today, our linen producer is dew retting the flax in the field: it takes longer and is more labor-intensive, but this process produces the best quality linen and is the most environmentally friendly. I am pleased to introduce three new dew retted, Belgian linen fabrics with this collection: Mistral, Ostro, and Sirocco (below).

Flax Flowers

Flax Flowers

Field Retting

Field Retting

Mistral, Ostro, Sirocco

The wool mill I have been working with for Back to Basics developed fiber-dyed wool velvets. The fiber-dyeing process used for Holmes and Watson saves both energy and water compared with piece-dyeing. I was able to visit the mill located about one hour away from Brussels in a beautiful old European town. The tidy mill collects rainwater to use in the facility. It is owned by two brothers, gentle and down to earth.

Kortrijk Town Hall building façade

Kortrijk Town Hall building façade


One of them, the weaving technician who helped developed our water-saving wool told me, “I have never left Europe all my live.” I was surprised, but I can see how that could be. He has great passion for his trade; every time we talk about the design and the weaving or finishing process, he explains them to me with such enthusiasm, supplemented with gestures and sometimes with drawings, that I am often affected by his enthusiasm and am willing to listen longer despite my busy schedule to learn more about his technical ability.


I envision clients sitting on their sofas upholstered with these elegant, simple fabrics knowing that their fabric has no formaldehyde and that their purchasing action helped to conserve water in this world.


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§ One Response to Back to Basics Inspirations

  • […] In 2010 I visited our San Francisco showroom. Since I had been aspiring to develop “green” products, I asked our salesperson, as I often do, what kind of green product they sell and how they sell it. The showroom salesperson showed me a pile of fabrics she had set aside to recommend when a client asked for a green product for her home. It was a pile of natural fiber material, heavy on the linen side, but very few samples had any writing or labels telling their green stories. I was actually puzzled by her selections until I realized that people respond more to the fiber than to any certification for the concept of “green.” That is why I set out to develop a third party certified eco-friendly linen for our Back to Basics collection. […]

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