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Digital Sampling will change face of fabric industry
30
Jun '10
Designtex has set the bar for our industry, being the first company to change from the traditional fabric binder card sampling to a 100% digital format. Previewed in May at the Hospitality Design Show in Vegas and announced in June at NeoCon in Chicago, Designtex has converted their upholstery offering from fabric to digital.

Under the direction of Caroline Vaughn, Director of Marketing and in coordination with a New York City photographer, an International Print House plus their in-house marketing team, Designtex's criteria was to make the digital binder cards represent the fabrics better than traditional fabric binder cards, and at the same time give clients a quick and easy reference to their upholstery products.

For years, digital sampling has been discussed throughout the industry as the next step in sampling but has never been realized until now. Designtex has taken the initiative and created high resolution images, paired with cutting edge technology, which represent the fabrics more accurately than small pieces of fabric glued onto cards.

By employing digital photography to capture the same segment of a pattern's repeat across all color ways Designtex was able to accomplish a visual consistency on each card and show more of the repeat. Faithfully reproducing each image to match the product exactly was critical; “If you couldn't feel the fabric with your eyes this wasn't going to work”, says Vaughn. “You had to feel with your eyes that the fabric was cut velvet, wool, satin, chenille or even a leather.”

By accomplishing this criteria not only is Designtex giving their clients a better and easier reference, they have also reduced valuable shelf space in client libraries from ten traditional binders to two digital binders. As quoted by Dan L. Irving of Lincoln Office, LLC based in Illinois, “I think it is a game changer for the fabric industry…most importantly, this makes it so easy to work with Designtex; it simplifies the process.” As an added reference Designtex will be uploading all images onto their web-site for clients to print and use on demand, and to be included with job quotes, on project boards etc. “This format is the future; already clients have asked for the complete collection in the new digital format to upload to their own digital libraries,” adds Vaughn.

The new digital binders also have a sustainable story; building on other waste reduction efforts within Designtex. In the same way that their sample reclamation program for fabric memos prevents fabric from going to landfill, digital sampling eliminates the excessive waste involved in fabric binder cards. Carol Derby, Director of Environmental Strategy, offered her perspective: “Add the reduced energy and material to produce two binders that do the work of ten, a 75% reduction in shipping weight, the elimination of glues and the use of FSC certified, recyclable paper printed with zero VOC soy ink, and the sum is a new model of sustainable packaging for textile sampling.”

President and CEO Thomas Hamilton, commented, “Our new digital sampling gives us opportunities we have never had to really market and sell our products in a number of different ways. Designtex is now presenting our products with the highest level of aesthetic and showing products to customers in a manner never before presented…To say I'm thrilled with the response from customers is an understatement!”

Designtex, A Steelcase Company

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