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The fabrics of Backhausen’s ‘Made in Austria’ heritage

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The fabrics of Backhausen’s ‘Made in Austria’ heritage

With its DNA firmly rooted in Austrian heritage, Backhausen’s quality and style of fabrics is a result of the brand’s authentic craftsmanship. The company’s Maria Florencia Caruso shares its narrative…

Austria, a place known as the home of music, culture, the waltz, ski resorts, palaces, outstanding museums and dramatic landscapes.

However, the country’s history of craftsmanship, attention to detail, precision, art and design is often overlooked. Products ‘Made in Austria’ tend to combine luxury with dependability – redefining, quality, reliability, sustainability, heritage and design.

Backhausen is an Austrian-heritage manufacturing company specialising in premium quality fabrics using natural fibres. The company’s mill is located in the Waldviertel region – more specifically in Hoheneich, which is located in lower Austria and literally translates as the “forest district”. In addition to its breathtaking nature, the Waldviertel has a rich history, culture and know-how in weaving textiles.

The factory, which is located in between rolling mountains and hills in Austria

Image Caption: Backhausen’s factory is located in Waldviertel region, and sits inbetween rolling hills in the countryside | Image credit: Backhausen

“Backhausen’s designs are inspired by an extensive archive developed throughout its 171-year history.”

The brand’s products are designed, manufactured and packaged in Austria. At Backhausen, ‘Made in Austria’ is exemplified through the art of weaving and craftsmanship. The key to creating every woven fabric at Backhausen is its committed team, which uses skills and techniques passed from generation to generation. Backhausen’s expertise is to manufacture elaborate, intricate and diverse fabrics on state-of-the-art Jacquard looms, constructed using infinite design concepts. Jacquard fabrics distinctively incorporate complex patterns and colours into their weave, can feature a raised, luxurious brocade motif and are often reversible.

Furthermore, Backhausen’s designs are inspired by an extensive archive developed throughout its 171-year history, in collaboration with acclaimed local architects, artists and designers. The archive is a treasure trove of daily inspiration for Backhausen’s designs and is part of Austria’s cultural history. The patterns and designs that form the influential archive are protected and not permitted to leave the country without official permission. Through this archive, Backhausen gives ‘Made in Austria’ a deeper and greater meaning.  The company’s strength is finding the right balance between tradition and modern technology through experience and creativity.

Backhausen products give ‘Made in Austria’ an international perspective with its brand pillars of craftsmanship, sustainability, heritage and individuality.

Schönbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Imperial Palace and State Opera House in Vienna are all renowned Austrian landmarks in which Backhausen’s fabrics can be found. Internationally, Backhausen textiles can be seen in first class hotels, theatres, restaurants, cafes, renowned landmarks and high-end residential projects.

The company is in partnership with designers from different industries and backgrounds, in addition to the use of its fabrics for interior upholstery and curtains. The fashion designer, Arthur Arbesser commissioned Backhausen to produce exquisite jacquard fabrics for two of his collections shown at Milan Fashion week and the Leopold Museum in Vienna. Backhausen fabrics can also be found in elegant modes of transport, as they are certified for aviation and marine interiors because of their durability and luxuriousness.

Backhausen’s bespoke options allow designers to express their individuality and creativity by creating project-specific patterns and motifs. Sagmeister & Walsh designed the Colour Room, in creative partnership with Backhausen, for their exhibition “Beauty” at the Vienna MAK (Museum of Applied Arts).

“‘Made in Austria’ is much more than a label.”

To expand on Backhausen’s versatility and its diverse project collection, its textiles are featured on the big screen set designs and decoration. Its influential film portfolio includes the 24th film in the James Bond series, James Bond 007: Spectre (2015) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) by Wes Anderson, a four-times Oscar winning film, one of which was for set design.

‘Made in Austria’ is much more than a label: it represents a passion for art, heritage, tradition, craftsmanship, design and quality. Backhausen’s well-crafted Austrian-made fabrics enhance and inspire with timeless beauty, versatility and durability.

Backhausen is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this  three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Backhausen

IN THE FACTORY with Knightsbridge Furniture

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IN THE FACTORY with Knightsbridge Furniture

To stitch together how Knightsbridge makes its contract furniture, editor Hamish Kilburn travels up to Bradford in West Yorkshire to step inside the modern factory that chooses to do things the traditional way…

Priding itself on being 100 per cent British-made is something that has become somewhat of a unique selling point for contract furniture company Knightsbridge.

Giving ‘in-house’ a whole new meaning, every item that has a Knightsbridge logo on it was conceptualised, sketched, prototyped and produced in the hearty West Yorkshire town of Bradford – and has been for 80 years.

In an average week, around 700 items of furniture are made in the Victorian factory – and all pieces start as nothing more than a stacked load of timber or Birch plywood, which is imported from Russia and Europe. While many factories internationally have chosen to use automated machinery to carve their frames, Knightsbridge is among the minority that still, to this day, cuts its materials by the hands of skilled workers. “Many of our employees come through the apprenticeship scheme, which is something we are very proud of,” said Craig Weston, Operations Manager at Knightsbridge. “Because everything at Knightsbridge is handmade and hand-cut, the role in the factory therefore requires a very specific set of skills, which isn’t easy to teach just anyone.”

Stack of timber

Image credit: Knightsbridge Furniture

As we walk from process to process, I notice that an arm of a chair starting to take form. “This is one of the most difficult pieces we make,” says Weston who points to the worker on the cutter who is meticulously carving out detailed incisions. “As a strategy, we ensure that we always have a higher stock of the items that are more complex to produce.” With high demand for Knightsbridge products and limited facilities, this is a resourceful method that reduces the possibility of delays in the manufacturing process.

Contract chair in the process of being upholstered

Image credit: Knightsbridge Furniture

Once each frame is cut, sanded, assembled, tinted, polished and dried, it is then ready for the upholstery process. On average, it takes the team at Knightsbridge approximately one hour to upholster a typical sofa. As the demand in hotel interior design renovations increases, the company also offers a reupholstery service whereby it will reupholster any piece of furniture (even if it’s not a Knightsbridge product). The cluster of seamstresses working is impressive and the decision to keep a cap on fabric stock is reassuring. “To reduce waste and save space, we only stock as much material as we need in this area,” Weston explains. “What’s more, although we have colour and fabric options, we will match any colour the client wants.”

Seamstress working

Image credit: Knightsbridge Furniture

Elsewhere in the factory, away from the main production line, is the design and development team. Led by Director Jason Brown, who lives and breathes by the ethos that you can’t turn down the volume on creativity, the soul of the factory is my home-from-from during my visit. “I have every furniture designers’ dream job, right?” laughs Brown. “It’s such a privilege being able to have all the tools, kit and skills to be able to prototype products in-house.” Brown is a man after my own heart who seems to wear many hats in his role. “The most obvious element to my role is that I sketch and design the future collections,” he explains. “But what most people perhaps don’t know is that my team, which is magic by the way, also have to provide the factory workers with all the technical drawings when we start producing a new product. As you can imagine, there is no margin for error in this department. We are always looking for new ways to be innovative, while being mindful of time, quality and cost for the overall business.” For Brown, like all great designers, thinking creatively and thinking commercially are difficult plates to spin at the same time. “It’s a challenge, but that’s why I love it,” he adds.

Despite Knightsbridge having the ultimate in-house design dream team, led by a visionary who clearly leads within the pack, the company is also proud to work with outside influences when designing future products. The latest collaborations to come out the factory include the likes of John Coleman, Sean Dare, Jim Hamilton and David Fox.

Knightsbridge is a modern company like no other. Proud of its heritage and confident to push boundaries, it seems as if this British-born company has all the materials, workforce and ideas – all stored under one roof – to lead the contract furniture market into another 80 successful years of business.