New Fabric Collections from Kravet – Nate Berkus, Studio C, Clark & Clark

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One would be hard put to find collections that diverge as much as the new fabric collections Kravet is now offering from Nate Berkus, Studio G, and Clark & Clark.

From colors to textures, from solids to patterns, and from embroidery to embossing, these new fabric collections present interior designers and luxury furnishing specialists with multiple opportunities to create unique settings in any home or office environment.

Well-Traveled Fabric Collection by Nate Berkus

In his first fabric collection for Kravet, Nate Berkus wanted to allow freedom for designers to showcase their distinct point of view. Incorporating inspiration from Nate’s many travels abroad, his new Well-Traveled collection offers a fresh perspective that mixes history, architecture, art, and craftsmanship.

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“Travel is always such an important part of anything I design. For this collection, we explored techniques from places such as Mexico and Peru, and also mined museum exhibits and archives for pattern inspiration. I wanted to create the perfect balance of curated pattern, technique and texture.” – Nate Berkus

 

Well-Traveled presents casual cotton and linen textures with the mix of archival prints to create light and livable rooms with the thoughtful care Berkus brings to every project. We’ll let him share his thoughts on putting together this new fabric collection.

“In the 20-plus years I’ve been doing this, it’s always been about giving people permission to tell their story and to live only with what they love. My hope for this collection is that a certain pattern or colorway will resonate, and will help add another layer to a room… Whether that’s as a set of drapes, a reupholstered sofa or a throw pillow.” – Nate Berkus

Roof Garden Fabric Collection by Studio G

Launched in 2016, Studio G is a second brand from Lee & Emma Clarke and is aimed at the mid sector of the market; lively, fashionable and accessible, appealing to aspirational and fashion aware consumers. In addition, C&C Contract collections are specially produced for the contract and hospitality markets, bringing a fashion-forward look to commercial spaces around the world.

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With a generally light and airy feel, the Roof Garden collection of fabrics remains comfortable and compelling thanks to its outdoorsy sense of playfulness.

With names like cactus, rainfall, stepping stones, and terrace trail, these fabrics are an ode to nature, regardless of the space in which they are used.

 

Clark & Clark Fabric Collections

Founded in 1999 by Lee & Emma Clarke, Clarke & Clarke has established itself as one of the global leaders in the home furnishings market. The company now distributes products to retailers, manufacturers and interiors designers in over 90 countries and has earned a reputation for providing innovative designs, exceptional quality and excellent value for money.

The company markets its products under two brands; Clarke & Clarke, which is transitional in style, targeting the mid to upper end of the interiors sector and brings inspirational design from the catwalk to the home, and Studio G.

 

Looking for more new fabric collections, new home furnishings, the latest interior design trends, marketing tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Designing Your Design Business – Benefits of Working with a Business Coach

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In a recent article titled Coaching pays off for new managers at BDCNetwork.com, the value of hiring a business coach is revealed, at least as it relates to those who find themselves trying to adjust to a new leadership position. Of course, the value of working with a coach also applies to entrepreneurs and small business owners who may be struggling to lead a team and grow their business – perhaps you and your design business.

The article shares a few quick insights gleaned from a white paper published by the folks at the Fails Management Institute, or FMI, an advisory group “for engineering and construction, infrastructure and the built environment and the industry’s leading organizations”.

In their paper, FMI found that:

  • Some 91% of participants said that coaching increased their readiness for a new leadership role

  • Nearly 88% of participants suggested that coaching increased their overall engagement in their roles

  • About 87% of respondents said that executive coaching has a high return on investment

  • And 77% of survey respondents stated that their coaching experience exceeded their expectations

Whether you’re busy trying to establish your design business, working on developing a new product or service, or developing a growth strategy for your existing operation, the experience and expertise you can gather from a coach can be invaluable for both the short-term and long-term health of your business.

Benefits of Working with a Business Coach

When you choose to work with a business coach, the benefits are likely to exceed the cost involved.

  • Experience and Expertise – A business coaches can offer you expert advice and guidance based on actual experiences in the world of business and business start-ups. Most of them have a load of “Been there, done that” experience to offer, with both successes and failures from which they’ve learned the hard lessons you're about to encounter.

  • Fresh Perspective – Having a sounding board for your ideas, from new products or services to the structure of your business and composition of your team, is a great way to work out any kinks in your thought process. For an emerging entrepreneur for example, it’s to be expected that you’ll get caught up with your ideas to the point of questioning, confusion or second guessing yourself. There may also be areas you’ve never considered that an experienced coach will have top-of-mind.

  • Existing Business Network – With experience comes a network of industry connections – business connections you may not have yet. Not only will your coach help to open doors so you can meet important people, he or she will know which doors to knock on, and which to avoid. The value of an introduction to the influencers in your niche, not to mention the thought leaders in your target market, is something you simply cannot put a price on.

  • Different Skill Set – While you have design expertise to offer, there are areas of your business which will present challenges you may not be able to meet, such as: hiring a team, bookkeeping, taxes, contracts, business structure, just to name a few. Business coaches often have areas of advanced skills, so you can further your technical abilities while gathering big-picture insight.

  • Return on Investment –  Selecting a business coach can be tricky in today's world of self-proclaimed on-line “business building experts”. Your goal is to find someone who has done what you want to do, who is willing to show you how they did it, and see a return greater than your investment for their expertise. A truly committed coach has a single goal – to help you succeed in your business.

Working with a business coach offers an opportunity to realize your business vision far more quickly than you might have otherwise.

When you choose to work with a business coach, the wisdom and experience they offer will provide you with an opportunity to streamline and accelerate the business building process. This will enable you to get where you want to go more efficiently and productively, with fewer “Uh oh!” moments and many more “Ah ha!” moments – helping to pave the way to a much smoother path to the success of your design business.

Looking for more tips on designing your design business, new interior design trends, and new product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Your Interior Design Portfolio – When Your Client Says “No Photos”

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Transparency is critical to the success of your design business website; imagery that displays your talents and highlights who you are. Just as important is your interior design portfolio, with photos you can share with prospective clients in face-to-face meetings – not to mention Pinterest and Instagram.

Then too, the massive popularity of video makes sharing recordings of your design projects on YouTube or Vimeo (or both) a powerful online marketing tool, as well.

But, what can you do if you run into a client who is so concerned about their privacy that they refuse to allow you to share imagery or videos of the work you’ve done for them?

While certainly not the norm, working with clients who refuse to have their space photographed happens often enough that you should be ready well in advance, just in case.

And, of course, even if you’ve never run into such a client, you can almost be certain that the design project you most want to photograph will be the one you can’t. So, here are some tips you can use to make sure your portfolio contains your favorite projects.

Ensuring Your Design Portfolio is Complete

With help from the pros at ArchitecturalDigest.com, we offer some tips on What to Do When Your Clients Don't Want Their Space Photographed:

Your first resort…

  • Include photography in all of your design contracts – The best way to work around a no-photography situation is to avoid it completely. According to a lawyer who works closely with designers, you should include a clause about photographing a space, both before and after the project, in your standard contract. Work closely with your attorney to hammer out the details to ensure you’re getting the rights you need to complete your portfolio.

  • Negotiate image sharing – Even if you have a clause about photography in your contract, the client may strike it out before signing. That’s the time to negotiate. If your original wording didn’t mention anonymity, it’s a great place to start. Offer your client complete privacy, ensuring that no identifying details about the home or its owners will be shared with publications, on your website, or on social channels. Work on finding a middle ground with your client that still allows you to add photographs of your project to your portfolio.

  • Ask to share details of the design only – Say that your client is standing his or her ground during negotiations. The next tactic to try is to give in, just a tiny bit. Instead of trying to convince your client over the course of the project, a better solution may be to focus on the details. Especially when your work is detail oriented and customized for the client, detail photos go a long way. While cropped photos may not work for publication, they can be used in your portfolio.

Your last resort…

  • Work with their real estate broker – If you’ve lost out on negotiations and the client simply won’t budge, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. If the client decides to sell the home, there’s a very good chance the space will be photographed to attract prospective buyers. In some instances, you can negotiate a deal with the broker to retroactively add those images to your design portfolio.

Interior designers and architects usually need to get their client’s approval to share images of their projects. That’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially if the project is a private residence.

While hearing a resounding “No pictures” from your clients may not happen often, being ready for the possibility will ensure you’re able to present a complete interior design portfolio online and in meetings with prospects.

Looking for more designer marketing tips, new interior design trends, and new product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Designing Your Design Business – Value of Client Testimonials and Reviews

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We’ve talked quite a bit about the value, and need, of developing a strategic business plan for your design business (here and here). We’ve also offered advice on the importance of creating an online marketing strategy (most recently here). While many of the business building and marketing tips we’ve shared are important, we would be remise if we neglected to mention the incredible value of client testimonials and reviews.

According to an article at Inc.com, 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. (More of the research to back up this stunning claim can be found here.)

Client Testimonials May Be the Key to Designer Success

The absolute value of client testimonials and reviews really cannot be overstated. The inherently impersonal environment of the internet makes it a place where skepticism runs rampant and where trust may be the greatest commodity you can find. In fact, we’ve known many online shoppers who base their purchases exclusively on the testimonials and reviews they see.

This is why it is so very important that you create and maintain a process that encourages your design clients to leave reviews and/or testimonials, that monitors the reviews they leave, and that deals with and improves any negative reviews you might receive. (Opportunity calling!!!)

Dedicated to offering tips to both homeowners and design professionals, the website Houzz.com recently shared some great tips for just such a client review process:

1. Ask Your Clients for Reviews and Testimonials

  • Make reviews part of your design process – Mention reviews at the start and throughout the project so clients keep reviews top of mind. Planting the seed from the beginning will make it easier to get reviews at the end of the project.

  • Personalize your client requests – Requesting reviews with a personalized note is much more effective than sending a generic message. Ask how they’re enjoying a specific feature you worked on or how they’re decorating for the holidays.

  • Tap your professional designer network – On Houzz, members of the professional community can fill out reviews as “Colleagues” to provide a different angle of your business. Only request reviews from other professionals with whom you have worked.

2. Track Your Projects and Client Testimonials

  • Keep a project tracking spreadsheet – Keep an Excel or Google doc of all the projects you finish. At the end of every month, send requests to all the clients who haven’t reviewed you yet. Once you receive a review, mark it in the doc.

  • Request reviews with Houzz – With the “Get Reviews” tool on your Houzz profile, just add the client’s email address and write a personalized note. Houzz will send the client an invitation to review your work.

  • Ask your account manager to follow up for you – Pro+ pros can have their dedicated Houzz account manager assist with reviews. Ask your account manager about the Review Concierge Service that can send requests via email on your behalf.

3. Follow Up with Every Client, Review or Not

  • Thank your clients for thanking you – Since responding by email can be time consuming, Houzz allows you to respond to your reviews with a thank-you message and a “Like.” Responding to reviews shows that you truly value relationships with your clients, even after the project is complete.

  • Respond to negative reviews – Offering clarification or perhaps how you might improve the situation will allow potential clients to see how you handle situations that aren’t ideal. A negative review can be a positive marketing opportunity. (More on this below.)

  • Make client testimonials available online – Make the reviews you receive available to prospective clients to showcase your credibility and experience as a real interior design professional. Send clients a link to your reviews page, add them to your website with the Houzz Review Widget, and include them in any prospective client welcome materials.

BONUS TIP: Remember that repeat clients are more likely to hire you again – and to spend more – than a new client so, keep in touch with clients after you finish a design project by asking for a testimonial, and by asking of they may need more work in the future.

Turn a Bad Review Into and Opportunity

Here is some great advice from the Inc.com article we mentioned above: If you receive a negative review, the first thing to do is…

“Make the customer feel [like they are being] heard. Jump too quickly to trying to solve the problem and some will think you didn't take the time to fully understand the problem – and how it made the customer feel. Listen, ask questions, and then validate the customer's feelings. Say, for example, ‘It must have been frustrating for you to not be able to…’

“Then, focus on solving the problem, confident that you not only understand the problem, but what the customer really needs. Once the customer is happy… politely ask them to edit their rating.

“Most will do so. After all, customers don't want to leave negative reviews. They want to be happy.”

Since interior design is a largely local business, and because online reviews have become on of the most important local ranking factors with search engines, creating a process for client testimonials and reviews is absolutely a key to the growth of your design business.

Looking for more design business tips, new interior design trends, and new product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Interior Design Trends – Stylish Sustainable Design Solutions That Work

In a previous post we asked the question, Is sustainability a sustainable design choice? While we expressed some skepticism at the time, sustainable solutions remain a huge interior design trend. So, how can you approach this particular niche in your own market?

In a recent article at BusinessOfHome.com, editor at large Robyn Smith presents 19 brands that turn trash into treasure as proof that sustainable design is not only possible but, with a bit of creativity, can also be stylish.

As she enthusiastically assures us, “Upcycling isn’t just for Pinterest crafters anymore. We found 19 home brands that transform previously used materials – think tires, engine coils, fishing nets, and chalkboards – to construct new, beautiful objects for the home.”

Sustainable Home Furnishings

Is it really possible to create quality home furnishings from recycled trash?

Lovesac – Claiming to be builders of “The World’s Most Adaptable Couch™”, this modular Sactional sofa has upholstery that is made from recycled plastic bottles and cushions that are filled with shredded scrap foam from the sofa industry.

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Ethnicraft – Specializing in “creating authentic, contemporary and timeless furniture from solid wood”, this piece offers shapes that adorn the Graphic sideboard’s doors that are composed of leftover wood scrap from the company’s factory, which would otherwise be too small for furniture.

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Groundwork Home – Repurposed surfaces are standard fare for the Philadelphia-based custom furniture manufacturer, which counts old paving stones, school chalkboards, marble shower stall dividers, and factory machine bases among the materials it upcycles for its hand-crafted, hand-finished furniture.

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Meso Goods – This “ethically crafted” furnishings brand uses organic Guatemalan wool sourced in Quetzaltenango for its area rugs, wall hangings, and furniture; it also recycles post-consumer bottles into glassware.

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Slash Objects – The line integrates the use of an industrial material made of post-consumer recycled rubber to create innovative objects and furniture. Here, recycled tire rubber and salvaged marble from across the U.S. are combined to create the Coexist standing mirror.

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For a sharp interior designer, home furnishings from companies like these present an opportunity to integrate sustainable home furnishings into your projects for clients who are truly committed to finding sustainable interior design solutions.

Looking for more tips on interior design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Interior Design Trends – Small Kitchen Remodeling Tips

As the most popular room in most homes, kitchens are often the most important space for a homeowner during a remodel. With so many appliances to consider, remodeling a small kitchen presents some unique challenges to you as a designer. Yet, reimagining these small, high-traffic, heavily used spaces has become one of the more frequent interior design trends today.Cooking up a small kitchen design that results in a space as delicious as the meals prepared within it is not easy but, with some examples of successful small kitchen remodels from HGTV.com, we would like to offer a few ideas that will make your mouth water and your taste buds tingle.

Outdated Kitchen Before Remodel

outdated kitchen design

These homeowners realized they needed to take action on their kitchen when the 70s called and asked them to send it back. Though not the smallest kitchen we’ve seen, the outdated look and feel caused by the dark wood and blue walls made the space seem smaller than it actually was and reduced the full use of the space available.

Outdated Kitchen After Remodel – WOW!

open kitchen design

open kitchen design

After a makeover from HGTV's Fixer Upper hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, this kitchen feels far larger, even with the addition of a center island. By removing the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, the entire home feels more open. The original cabinets were painted white for a fresh look that also reflects light and the new appliances add a serious touch of class.

Rental Property Kitchen Before Remodel

small kitchen remodeling tips

small kitchen remodeling tips

OK, now the 60s are calling! It’s tough to generate decent income on a rental property when the kitchen is not only small, but dank, dark, and as unappealing as this one was before a makeover. The ugly vinyl flooring and dark cabinetry created multiple opportunities for reimagining and improving this space.

Rental Property Kitchen Reimagined

basement kitchen remodel

basement kitchen remodel

A basement apartment can be a tough sell in the best of times, because of the tendency for them to feel confining and a bit claustrophobic. Here though, and without adding a single square foot of new space, this room feels far more spacious with white upper cabinets, attractive wood flooring, and contemporary appliances. By keeping the cabinets light on top, the entire space feels more open, airy, and user-friendly.

Small Kitchen Rehab Required

kitchen rehab project

kitchen rehab project

Back to the future, much? Poor design plus a lack of care by the owner turned this space into a disaster. While this little kitchen had good bones and great potential, the water damage that warped the lower cabinets had made half the small space unusable.

Kitchen Rehab Works Wonders

beautiful small kitchen design

beautiful small kitchen design

Welcome home, Marty… It’s a whole new world! Host Nicole Curtis of HGTV's Rehab Addict was able to save the space with new hardwood flooring and gorgeous marble countertops. The new-look feels more spacious and is definitely more functional with brand new lower cabinets with a fresh coat of white paint.As an interior designer, walking into poorly designed and outdated kitchens like the ones above can seem daunting. Yet, the chance for you to show off your creativity and talent is also obvious and impossible to resist.As small kitchen remodeling projects continue to be one of the hot interior design trends as homeowners continue to downsize, a sharp interior designer will be ready to get to work and cook up some hot and tasty ideas to meet the challenge.Looking for more new design trends, marketing tips, new products and furnishing ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Designing Your Design Business – Successful Designers Business Model

designers business model

designers business model

While it would be unethical to copy the work of a more successful interior designer, learning from a successful designers business model makes perfect sense – and does not present the question of ethics.In his latest article for BusinessOfHome.com, columnist Maury Riad presents a glimpse of just such a business model and offers it as a guide for both fledgling and established designers to follow on the path to lasting success.While it should go without saying that clarity of focus and organization are two of the most crucial business principles every design business should follow, many designers struggle to achieve them. If profitability depends on performance at every level, and it does, then building a cost-effective process for implementing the work you do is crucial.3 (+1) Characteristics of a Successful Design BusinessSo, where does Mr. Riad focus his attention?

  1. Operational Procedures – “The big difference that I’ve noticed between a designer who is just starting out and a more established studio lies in their operational procedures. It may sound obvious, but a major key to any design firm’s success is business practices that are organized, efficient, and thorough. Where working with a new designer may require a lot of back and forth about a handful of purchase orders or invoices, an established, profitable firm can juggle thousands of these processes at any given time.”

  2. Vendor Relationships – “Profitable designers know how to leverage their vendors as extensions of their teams to get their work done. Any given design firm works with a wide range of vendors – whether they provide fabric, furniture, or flooring – and knowing what their vendors can do for them is crucial to their success.”

  3. Elevated Design Opportunities – “The whole impetus behind hiring an interior designer – besides having someone else do the legwork for you – is the idea that they can find the decor that clients can’t achieve themselves. This ties back into maintaining good relationships with your vendors… [and] involves knowing who to go to and what to ask for. The right pieces or components elevate your design above the ubiquitous DIY aesthetic that is so popular today – and are the reason your clients will seek you out.”

What’s the +1 Design Business Characteristic?While each of these business characteristics of successful designers is vitally important to your success, we would add:

  1. Contractor Relationships – The contractors and subs you work within any design project can make or break your business. These folks will often have more direct contact with your client than you do, which makes the relationship you have with them critically important. Building positive relationships with talented and committed contractors foster loyalty toward you – investing them in the success of your design business because they know that their success is dependent on yours.

While most of these characteristics of aa successful design business may seem obvious, the truth is that many designers struggle to craft and implement something that matches the most successful designers business model. By focusing on these four areas of your business, you are far more likely to enjoy long-term success.Are you looking for more tips on designing your design business, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

Know Your Greatest Tool for Building Relationships with Interior Design Clients

building relationshipsWhat is your greatest tool for building relationships with interior design clients? Is it your talent and creativity? Is it your commitment to excellence? Is it your network of contacts, your great sub-contractors, your wonderful home furnishing suppliers?While all of these characteristics are important for establishing and maintaining client relationships, it can be argued that your most important tool is understanding… Fulfilling the need for your clients to understand and address the many ways in which their lives change during a remodel.There are many costs a homeowner will bear during even the most modest remodel of their living space, not least of which are the stress, chaos, and confusion that will affect their daily lives until the renovation project is complete.As an interior designer, you are the expert on the things that happen during a remodel and the best thing you can do for your clients is to prepare them as well as you can for the potential upheaval they will likely experience.Prepare Your Clients for Potential CommotionBuilding relationships with interior design clients rests, primarily, on your ability to assure them that you have their best interests in mind. If you hope to build relationships that last, let them know that they should be ready for:

  • Changes to their daily schedule – Many homeowners have a routine they follow without fail: first morning coffee in the breakfast nook while planning their day or yoga/meditation in the den, perhaps. That quiet cup of coffee in the AM will need to be sipped elsewhere during a major kitchen renovation. And, their “me time” will have to be taken in a new location while the den is being remodeled.

To keep them “in the know” and happy despite the disruption, let them know, in advance, how the project may change their daily schedule.

  • Dusty days are ahead – The transition from a spotless living space to a dusty environment created by a major remodel is tough to accept for many homeowners. If you warn them in advance that, despite the efforts of your contractors to limit dust with barriers and such, there will be days when those irritating specks will float and travel.

Here again, communication is the key to keeping expectations in line with reality, while helping your client understand that the end-goal should be their focus – a beautiful result – rather than temporary discomfort.

  • Coping with homeowner stress – It almost goes without saying that some homeowners respond emotionally to the sight of their home being torn apart. The stress this can cause may sometimes get the best of them. Your understanding and calming influence will go a long way toward helping them cope with the stress of a major renovation.

Have a conversation early on and let them know that you are in control of the changes they are seeing take place and that, in the end, it will all be well worth it.Again, communication and managing expectations are the key to keeping your clients happy through the potential chaos of a remodeling project. Assure them that your goal is to make the renovation go as smoothly as possible, but there will be things that they will need to adapt to.Keep in mind that building relationships with interior design clients means long-term growth and success for your business.Are you looking for more tips on interior design success, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.

New from Kravet – Fabric Collections from Brunschwig & Fils

Fabric collections may be the very foundation of interior design. Because fabrics and finishes play such an important role in any good interior design project and decoration, they are one of the most fundamental elements a designer can use to achieve a specific presence and style within a particular space; whether a home or office.A savvy designer works hard to find fabrics that define the character of the space in which they’re working. Yet, accomplishing this is can be difficult, because both colors and textures must be combined in ways that ensure that the result will be simply stellar.With the introduction of three new fabric collections from Brunschwig & Fils, your job as an interior designer has just become much easier – with fabrics that convey more than character and variety, they also reflect sophistication, culture, and taste.Below, we present three stunning new fabric collections from the world-renowned weavers at Brunschwig & Fils.Cevennes Fabric Collection from Brunschwig & FilsNew from B&F comes Cevennes. Named for a cultural region and range of mountains in south-central France, these are a collection of beautiful fabrics that offer a “Sophisticated Escape” – from the everyday. The sheer variety and stunning presentation of this collection make these new fabrics impossible to resist.new fabrics Brunschwig & FilsAlsace Weaves Fabrics Collection from Brunschwig & FilsAlsace Weaves by B&F is a stunning collection of fabrics that reflect the mix of cultures found in its namesake region, bordering as it does Germany and Switzerland along the Rhine River. With a new take on old-world European designs, these lush fabrics present an original perspective on a traditional palette.Alsace weave fabricsNormant Checks & Stripes Fabric Collection from Brunschwig & FilsThe Normant Checks and Stripes fabrics collection from B&F puts a new face on a traditional look. Refined yet sophisticated, the range of colors and textures, from muted to bold and from crisp to bulky, present interior designers with the opportunity to satisfy the palette of any homeowner or office manager.Normant checks & stripesLooking for more new home furnishings and fabric collections, the latest interior design trends, marketing tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.