Liore Manne captures color
June 4, 2012,
"There's so much color outdoors. When you think creatively and you see a puddle of water and the reflections of things, if you're open with your mind and your eyes, it just comes to you," Manne said of her design inspirations, which transform into splashes of bold color woven into fabrics, pillows, ottomans, rugs and onto seats and walls - whether at a home, hotel, nightclub, restaurant, university or museum.
All of her fabrics, pillows and pads are not only inspired by nature, they are designed to withstand outdoor elements. Her proprietary Lamontage process starts with fibers dyed and blended into layers then handcrafted through a needle-punch system, similar to high-tech processes used for underwater filters.
Manne finds inspiration outdoors in any country yet is excited to see finishing processes for her fabrics return to America, where she first became enamored with textile designs. "Finishing for all the fabrics - the last stage with the binder, anti-microbial, stain-resistance and water-repellence - will be done in North Carolina," she said.
Cutting and sewing processes for her pillows also are being handled domestically. The company will do light manufacturing in its Suffolk, Va.-based warehouse.
"Now what's happening is we are moving the finishing back to the United States," she said, adding that the intricate handwork will still be done in China.
"All the pillows, pads and framed art will be done here," Manne said. "We're really excited about the fact that they are made in the USA so I can expand and do a lot more shapes in addition to the basic. Now we are making floor tiles with recycled rubber, a non-skid backing. It's a recycled product and it's made in the USA."
She expressed excitement about expanding her U.S. production. "It's a rejuvenation of the whole idea," she said. "It really started here."
Manne had anticipated a career in theater after graduating from Georgia State University with a degree in journalism and drama. A textile design class at N.C. State University changed her career path. After the head of the design school saw her portfolio, he encouraged her to combine textiles with design in the master's program. While earning her advanced degree from NCSU's School of Design, she took classes in the School of Textiles to learn the practical aspect of how things are made to be able to design them.
"I remember sitting by the knitting machine, figuring out how knitted fabrics were made," she said. "I was really lucky because one of our professors introduced me to Cotton, Inc. So while I was still in school, I was hired to design for Cotton, Inc. As part of that I traveled to New York and before I knew it I really I loved it."
Her first job was designing textiles for apparel, but she soon expanded her talents to the home furnishings category.
"In the early '90s, I started developing Lamontage and I thought of it as a whole new textile," she said. "I took a small place in New York, created the colors and thought it would be more difficult to make fabrics so I started off by making rugs."
She viewed rugs as accessories, similar to jewelry for the home. Looking back, she admits she knew nothing about making rugs until she started making them using microfiber/polyester. She learned quickly as more clients requested her outdoor rug designs.
Manne's design company started in New York City with a high-end limited installation book that was both beautiful and extremely expensive. As manufacturing started to move overseas, she wasn't able to get her fibers dyed in New York anymore. She turned to a Massachusetts factory for needling and final finishing work until she encountered problems that made her decide take production overseas in conjunction with Trans-Ocean, her husband Charley Peck's indoor/outdoor carpet company.
For the past 10 years, Manne has been designing quietly for hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, universities, museums, women's centers and public libraries. Her rug designs began appearing across the nation in places like Radio City Music Hall, the Gramercy Park Hotel and Ink 48 Hotel in New York, Delano Hotel in Miami and Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. Her designs moved upward from the floors to walls and seating as she added color to buildings once considered drab.
She has responded to more contract requests during the past two years. Her company exhibited at Hospitality Design Expo in Las Vegas for the first time in May.
This spring, Liora Manne wall covering designs were installed to identify 10 floors of the new Art Center at the University of Chicago. "We created each one, engineered for the wall," she said, reviewing photographs of stylized numbers. "It's just endless, an amazing project. That's really exciting to be working on these projects with architectural designers so you get even more stimulated."
Her popular poem fabrics started with a custom project in New York and later appeared in her rug design for Trans-Ocean and in furniture fabrics. She was told those handwritten scripts may have started that trend in apparel and home collections.
New for this year, Manne is introducing framed wall art, being distributed through Trans-Ocean.
Peck expects the market to perceive the finishes are much better for his wife's framed art and rug designs because they will be handled in the United States. "In fact, when one of our customers saw the tile, she said it doesn't look like felt anymore," he said. "Because the lamination is technically better, customers will have the option if they have any flame requirements and we'll be able to do that domestically."
Never short of inspiration, Manne continues to add to her collections of coastal themes and painterly abstract flowers. She is working on a rug that will have flowers and an interesting path leading anywhere she can imagine.
"Finally, in the last few years, I was able to bring the vision to where I originally saw it as a textile that could go from the floor to the walls to the ceiling," Manne said. "It's like a canvas but durable enough for the floors, walls and ceiling. It's beautiful. It's cleanable. It's outdoor. It is casual living."