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Designtex Introduces Digital Binder Cards


NEW YORK – Designtex has set the bar for the textile manufacturing industry, becoming the first company to change from the traditional fabric binder card sampling to a 100 percent digital format. 

Previewed in May at the Hospitality Design Show in Las Vegas and formally announced in June at NeoCon in Chicago, Designtex has converted its upholstery offerings 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, and the 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,” explains 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 its clients a better and easier reference, they have also reduced valuable shelf space in client libraries from 10 traditional binders to two digital binders. As quoted by Dan Irving of Illinois-based Lincoln Office, LLC, "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 its 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 its sample reclamation program for fabric memos prevents fabric from going to landfill, digital sampling eliminates the excessive waste involved in fabric binder cards.

"Add the reduced energy and material to produce two binders that do the work of 10, a 75 percent 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," says Carol Derby, director of environmental strategy.

Designtex is a design and product development firm that celebrates inquiry and collaboration. A Steelcase company, the Designtex family of products includes: Designtex (textiles, walls, panel fabrics, drapery, cubicles, and digital printed surface imaging); Fusion (architectural panels); as well as writeUp and loophouse (custom hand-made rugs). Designtex maintains showrooms, offices and sales locations in 110 global locations. For more information call (800) 221-1540 or visit