My trip to Switzerland last month was all about a long-anticipated family gathering at the mountain-side farm that's been in the family for many generations.
Coincidentally, all that fabulous floral and various silk fabrics I used in my most recent show house design were products of a Swiss company, Création Baumann.
In planning out my trip details, curiosity got the best of me (as usual) and I just had to Google-map Création Baumann. I was slightly gob-smacked to find out that the firm's headquarters and main factory were literally a scenic 25 minute drive from the family farm! There was no way I could travel all the way to Switzerland and not stop in to say hello. So, I made a few inquires through my business connections to arrange a meeting and tour the factory. And, I coaxed one of my brothers and a cousin to join me for good measure.
I’ve been a fan of Création Baumann fabrics for some time. They are a Swiss textile company, family-owned for three generations and built upon a Swiss history of producing fine cottons and linens. Création Baumann most certainly offers an excellent selection of finely woven cottons, silks, linens and modern man-made fibers. And while I love their decorative, sheer and fine woven goods, many of their textiles integrate cutting-edge textile technologies into the weaving process to provide acoustic, thermal, lighting and other sorts of built-environment controls.
The tour of their Langenthal facility was eye-opening. Création Baumann has set up a system to be as sustainable as possible. For example, the entire factory has closed recirculating/recycling water and air systems. This not only saves precious resources, but prevents environmental contamination. And, the factory itself is healthful to work in. I am the first person to get an itchy nose headache when hunting through fabric showrooms. Fabrics are full of fiber and fluff. I spent an hour walking through a factory full of thread, fibers, cuttings and looms weaving at high speed. I will swear there was not a mote of fiber anywhere. The company also works to source their materials sustainably where possible. Many of the textiles produced at the factory were sourced through a certified chain.
The automation at every step of the fabrication process and logistics of the stocking and fulfillment were awe-inspiring. I see why my order for 30 yards of fabric can be delivered from Switzerland to New York within a week (assuming the stock is available). Yet in the midst of all these robotics in the order-cutting department was a man worked using the oldest method for cutting fabric yardage along the true grain. Meticulously he pulled a weft thread creating a “pull” to guide his scissor for perfectly straight cut edge. I’ve done the same many a time in my dress-making days.
I'd be remiss not to mention the creative folks who develop the fabric designs. A new print may well be the product of in-depth market research (to identify the market “gaps”) and weeks of hand-painted water-color concepts done by in-house artists and textile designers. An engineer develops the science behind the high-tech fabrics. The design side of textiles seems like a deeply interesting field - I wish I'd had more time in that department.
A small company museum offers a fascinating overview of shifting styles, methods, colors and fashions from decade to decade since inception in the late 1880’s to the current day. Many of these textiles could never be made again without tremendous investment to recreate old technologies - because those specialty looms used are no longer in existence. That makes me a bit sad, even as the new-minted textiles thrill me.
I’m so glad I took time to visit the factory facility on my family trip to Switzerland. After designing an entire room around their “Artemisia” floral over-printed jacquard woven fabric and an assortment of their silk textiles, I feel as if I’ve somehow now completed the circle. All the romance of lovely fabrics and joy of working them in a creative design is supported by this well-designed and operated business and manufacturing system. It’s quite a team-effort.
P.S. I totally recommend you take the tour if you are ever in Langenthal, Switzerland!
Here are a few snap shots of our time at Création Baumann! (click to enlarge....)
Jacqueline Hosford, ASID, principal of Jacqueline Hosford Interior Design, loves working with clients to design their spaces for optimum function and each client's ultimate delight. Jacqueline is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); is certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification; and is an adjunct professor of interior design, State University of New York (Purchase, NY). Jacqueline is a graduate of Barnard College-Columbia University, and the New York School of Interior Design with highest honors. She can be reached at Jacqueline@jacquelinehosforddesign.com.