It was 20th century paintings that influenced Rob Rose when he was a design student at the Art Institute of Chicago. But Mr. Rose, whose father owned a textile business, eyed the masterpieces with the idea of translating them into upholstery designs.
Today, as design director of Architex, a Chicago-based fabric manufacturer, Mr. Rose has done just that. His Homage collection, a group of jacquard fabrics, is rooted in the Gothic Barcelonan architecture and crazy-quilt tilework of Antonia Gaudi, a Barcelonan architect.
Last June Mr. Rose introduced 54-inch-wide, 100 percent cotton textiles taken from an overview of abstract expressionists such as Arshile Gorky, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Arp and Gustav Klimt. He also has lush colorful interpretations of the Tahitian oils of Paul Gauguin, the eccentric patterns of surrealistic Salvador Dali, the childlike images of Marc Chagall and the whimsy of Joan Miro.
There are as many as 50 colors in one design. The fabric runs between $30 and $60 a yard, but Mr. Rose doesn't mind selling small quantities such as half a yard.
Color and experimentation with a wide variety of dyes, textures, weaves and printing are the hallmarks of the textiles of Jack Lenor Larsen. Mr. Larsen's use of multiple yarns and random pattern repeats has become his signature and has widely influenced the design of mass-market fabrics. Mr. Larsen, who turns 64 this month, is author of 10 books on textiles and fabric-making techniques (with two more in the works). And his fabrics have been in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art since he was 22.
Mr. Larsen draws on the people and cultures he has encountered on his extensive worldwide travels in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, Alaska and Russia as major influences for his designs.
He likes fabrics to show the way they were woven.
"What I work for is the craft quality of a design," said Mr. Larsen, referring to the handmade look. His translation of the intricacies of hand-weaving to the power loom has been one factor in bringing down his fabric prices to the $30-a-yard range. This, ironically, puts him in the middle market that so often has imitated his style innovations.
Other high-end manufacturers are following suit, which is good news for consumers who are realizing the important role fabrics play in home furnishings. According to Mr. Larsen, "Textiles are the easiest way to get something special in a room. They give a pattern, scale, organic texture or scintillating color. They are the best antidote for blandness."