As far as tribal designs and technical fabrics go, ikats top the list. But while it may have originated centuries ago, it has a distinct contemporary feel when used in homes, creating versatile looks from bohemian chic to city-sophisticated. Here’s how to use it for a modern and eclectic feel in your home…
Ikat (pronounced eee-kat) means to ‘tie’ or ‘bind’ in Indonesian and refers to the process of weaving. Ikats are created using the centuries old technique which originated in Northern India, but it soon made its way around the world via the trade route. The intricate patterned fabrics are traditionally made using cotton or silk thread.
“It’s a time-consuming process that requires great mathematical precision,” explains No Chintz Creative Director Chrissie Jeffery. “The warp yarn is dyed to create the ikat, or in the much more complex double ikat, both the warp and the weft yarn. Each piece of cotton is hand-dyed or dyed using the resist-dye method, where bundles of thread are bound together tightly at intervals then dyed. The process is then repeated with the different colours. The thread is then hand-loomed or hand woven together with meticulous precision to create the elaborate and often multi-coloured tribal style designs unique to ikat fabrics, giving each piece its individuality, beauty, texture and irregularities.
One slip of thread or millimetre out, and the effect is a jagged pattern, all part of the charm and what makes them so unique. It’s this labour intensive process, with some hand woven fabrics taking 6 to 12 months to create, and the uniqueness of every piece of fabric that makes them so costly to produce.”
Ikats are used as upholstery fabrics, drapery, rugs, cushions and pillows, blinds bedspreads and bedheads, and chair covers, but they’re also seen strutting the catwalks as tribal inspired ethnic print fashion. The Bohemian movement of the 60s were big adopters of ikats and then the fabrics gained favour with Matthew Williamsons recent collection, D&G and other big names.
Ikats in your home!
Mix up your fabrics. “Ikats look fab with stripes, textures prints and plains. “The more colour and pattern you bring into a room, the more layered and eclectic the feel,” explains No Chintz Creative Director, Chrissie Jeffery.
Chair Upholstered in Cashew Nut Love in Orange, with Cushion in Flowers on Water in Parrot, Cushion in Flowers on Water in Parrot.
Dining room Chairs (from left to right) upholstered in No Chintz , Ribble in Indigo, Deck Chair Stripe in Denim Ivory, and ikat Maya in Indigo.
Use Ikat Spots on chairs for a contemporary feel. Chairs upholstered using No Chintz Ikat Spot in Clay, Cumquat and Pink.
Intricate ikat patterns are perfect for hanging curtains and add texture and personality to lampshades. Curtain made with Bindi in Surf, and Lampshade made using Ikat Spot in Cumquat.
Some fabrics and designs will never date, and ikats are a stayer. Chrissie Jeffery has more than 30 years’ experience in the fabrics industry and knows a thing or two about the ikats worth investing in. Her faves? “Flowers on Water is an Ikat print with blossoms floating on water,” she explains. “It’s very popular and often used to create lampshades, cushions and chair coverings. The details are small but interesting and the colour range is lovely, with oranges, greens, blues and aqua. I also Cashew Nut Love Blue, which is blue, green and aqua together. It looks great on bedheads and chairs because it’s so strong and bold.”
Cushions made using Flowers on Water in Petrol is mixed back with patterns with blue and teal accents.
Cushions in Cashew Nut Love have a vibrant tribal appeal.
White walls getting you down? Pop a bright ikat bedhead against one for super sweet dreams and a beautiful boudoir.
Chrissie mixed and Indian silk bedcover with an Ikat bedhead for an eclectic feel. Bukhara Charcoal Cerise is seen here.
Wallpaper With Character
Use this ancient textile design to create a fresh bohemian appeal to interior walls.
Not all ikats are produced using environmentally sustainable practices, so source your fabrics with care. No Chintz Creative Director Chrissie Jeffery explains the great lengths her fabrics house goes to when sourcing fabrics. “Our hand woven fabrics are very low-tech,” Chrissie says. “They are made by small communities in India who have woven fabrics for generations on looms – they are not produced out of big electricity driven factories. These communities use recycled water, the dye by-products are captured so they don’t enter the water ways (cotton requires a lot of moisture in the air and water, so you have to treat water at the source – you can’t put contaminated water back into the system). And all the left over yarn is used by the community to create other textiles projects.”