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  • Jennifer Marks

Color? Sferra Has an App for That

EDISON, N.J. - When Sferra Bros. wanted to launch an app to drive business for its Fiesta table linen line, company president Paul Hooker "talked to somebody who knows about these things."
     That source directed him to a group of Russian programmers "in a dumpy building deep in the bowels of Tribeca" in downtown Manhattan, Hooker recalled recently.
     It turned out the programmers knew their stuff. More importantly, they had deep experience in producing apps that meet the quality standards required to make it into the Apple app store - the holy grail of app-dom.
     The resulting app - Linen Colors by Sferra - helps consumers select table linens to coordinate with their dishes, pulling from the 101 colors available in Sferra's Fies

Paul Hooker of SferraPaul Hooker of Sferra shows a video linked to the new app.
ta linen line. The technology uses an algorithm developed by the programmers to "read" and interpret RBG color, an additive color model that allows electronic systems (such as computers) to accurately represent a wide array of colors by blending red, green and blue light.
     After downloading the free app to her iPhone or iPad, the consumer can shoot a photo of a plate - or anything else to which she wants to match linens - then touch the color on the photograph that she would like to coordinate. The app posts up eight color swatches across the bottom of the screen.
     With the touch of a button, the consumer can also send swatches to her Facebook page with a message: "What color should I order?"
     Once the consumer has made a decision, she can make her purchase through the app and can receive the merchandise as early as the following day. Items available for purchase through the app include placemats, napkins and cocktail napkins. Tablecloths can be purchased as a custom order, said Hooker.
     The app also leads users to video Sferra shot last summer of its linens being woven in Europe. And Sferra developed an instructional video to lead viewers through the process. In it, a would-be hostess chats on the phone with a friend about her need for new linens while she gazes at a plate she just pulled from the cupboard. She says, inevitably, "You mean there's an app for that?"
     "It's wonderful being a 120-year-old company and catching up with today's technology," said Hooker, who officially unveiled the app during Tabletop Market in New York late last month.
     Hooker is something of a linen evangelist. "Linen is the fabric of kings - because of the drape, because of the launderability," he told a group of interior designs and shelter book journalists assembled for the app introduction.
     The app made its national television debut Oct. 28 on "The Martha Stewart Show" on the Hallmark Channel. Stewart grabbed the iPad from Hooker's hands and went to town on the technology, he said.
     "Her staff was holding up signs on the other side of the camera saying ‘Get that away from her or we'll never finish on time.'"

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