A couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to travel to Valencia to see what the local Spanish furniture, fabric, lighting and construction companies have to offer. This was an exciting opportunity that could not be refused. There is nothing like a change of environment to freshen up our creative flair.
Sitting alongside a huge variety of fellow designers and buyers from all over the world, early on a Tuesday morning, we got started. In a meeting room we each sat with our own station in preparation of meeting new Spanish companies. With approximately 25 minutes per meeting, the meetings commenced.
It quickly became clear to me that Valencia has a huge industry of textiles, furniture, lighting and carpet makers to name just a few.
Furniture and decoration
There is a clear division in design available here, from the highly decorative and ornate classical furniture styles to the almost minimalist, really paired back modern styles. The hand craft lives on in their making processes which is fantastic to see. Metal materials such as brass, iron, bronze and copper are used a lot here, moulded and hand carved details are delicately sculpted for elaborate furniture decoration. Wood is also well treated, with many highly polished traditional styles appearing. Though many of the contemporary furniture pieces are finished in colourful lacquer.
A large trend of recycled fabrics are being produced here. Not only is it environmentally friendly to recycle the fabrics, it's clear the new fabrics work well particularly for upholstery use due to their structure and textures, however the softness that we love to sink ourselves into when we cuddle up in front of the television at the end of the day or the weekends isn't quite achieved in the final product just yet.
Architecture and Sculpture
It must be noted the architecture that Valencia displays is undeniably beautiful, the visits to the historical buildings are rich in decoration and sculpture which you can see influencing some of today's makers in Spain. Many of today's makers continue to create stunning sculptural features for decorative lighting for interiors.
Leather handles on a contemporary chest of drawers and hidden drawers in small side tables are just some of the little details that can give a chic finishing touch to a simple piece of furniture.
Voiles are a vital fabric ingredient in almost every home interior scheme in the Mediterranean counties. In Ireland many of us like to invest in our fully interlined warm curtains, but when we see the new mixes of patterned voiles it makes me think we could invest in these exciting new fabrics a little more.
From traditional embroidered patterns to modern semi transparent fabrics coming on the market its exciting to see the potential of how we could use them in our window dressing, perhaps just where we want to add a little fabric to a hall window or perhaps on the landing or upstairs bedroom.
Some available in washable, even wipeable with bleach, don't have to just be used in the outdoors, why not introduce them in your sunroom or living room. How helpful would that be when you have a couple of your friends coming over for a couple of glasses (…or bottles) knowing that you don't have to watch over your favourite new interior fabrics that you just had your sofa covered in.
One fabric, one colour, one pattern that's all it takes. One fabric collection that really caught my eye was a playful collection of tropical printed outdoor fabrics, with vibrant greens, pinks, oranges which sometimes is just what we need when it feels like the sun is hiding away, bringing a little pop of colour back into your living space can give us the lift we need.
With the sun shining here I feel the need to bring a little bit of it home with me. This may seem impossible, but with a little bit of tropical fabric patterns, I'll feel like I've done my best.
The feeling of potential is in the air here and I look forward to seeing where it leads.