We could all use a little fairy godmother action. For designer Erin Ruby, it came in the form of Mary Jo Miller, vice president of design for HBF Textiles. When Ruby was just a sophomore at Virginia Tech, Miller served as an advisor to the interiors program. This led to a 16-year relationship that eventually resulted in the Erin Ruby Collection, which had us clambering all over ourselves at NeoCon to find out who this new girl on the scene was.
Her work was new to us, but Ruby’s practice has a heavy commercial design focus, and she boasts quite the storied past in product design, having worked with brands like Tuohy and Halcon.
And now she’s out to give the word “trend” or “trendsetter” a new wrap with this, her most recent line for HBF Textiles. “It’s a word that designers tend to shy away from because there is a misconception that trend cannot coexist with innovation or timelessness,” Ruby said.
When Miller began talking to Ruby about the over-dependency she senses on double rubs—when the fact of the matter is a fabric will tend to “ugly out before it wears out”—she began to wonder what causes a fabric to ugly out if it is so over-engineered. Why can’t it get better with age?
Together with HBF Textiles she set out to create a textile collection that achieved the time-worn patina that is so admired in leather, where mistakes are celebrated rather than hidden away. This was achieved with textures and weave structures that are more residential in nature—wider, looser, more tactile, and that add a certain warmth and intimacy to commercial or hospitality spaces.
“They look like they could have been handwoven or hand-stitched. We also focused on types of yarn thicknesses that allow for those natural mistakes to happen,” she explained.
Her true point of pride within the seven patterns is the 100 percent natural cork (on the face) upholstery with a polyester knit backing. It can also be specified as wallcovering or panel wrapping, and has a beautiful sustainability story: It’s rapidly renewable, inherently antimicrobial, and impervious to water.
“It’s so hard to actually have something completely novel in design,” she said.
As far as we’re concerned? Mission accomplished.