Tapestria has designs on success for phase 2

Carole Sloan, November 19, 2001

Tapestria, an international e-marketplace for decorative fabrics, is moving into phase two of its evolution with its first designer signature collection of fabrics — Elements, selected by Benjamin Noreiga-Ortez.

The collection of sheer fabrics was selected from the more than 60 European mills participating in Tapestria, the first in a series of signature fabric collections by members of its advisory board.

Tapestria began operations in February with a soft opening that was designed to familiarize American interior designers with the program. It began taking orders in April, according to its ceo, David Sonnenberg.

The concept behind Tapestria is to offer American interior designers access to leading European mills at prices that are significantly below showroom prices. Tapestria has agreements with the mills, which are able to price their individual fabrics according to their marketing plans and exclude items that are confined or otherwise restricted, Sonnenberg explained.

Since the launch, some 3,500 skus of high-end fabrics have been brought into the system, "and we almost misunderstood the market in terms of the sku counts," Sonnenberg related. The program is strong in basic fabrics and mid to lower-end fabrics at the designer level, he said. These fabrics, however, are the higher end of the American assortment, which is mostly European in origin.

Under the Tapestria format, designers can search the site for the specific fabric types, get samples in a day or several days, and orders are filled in a week or less from a warehouse facility in Holland.

To move the program forward with its own cachet, Sonnenberg explained, an advisory board has been formed with members including Jay Coogan, dean of fine arts, Rhode Island School of Design; Frederick Fisher, Frederick Fisher and Partners; Dorothy Twining Globus, former director, Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology; Randall Ridless, founder, Randall A. Ridless; William Sofield, founder, Studio Sofield; and Noreiga-Ortez.

While Tapestria is focused on the interior design trade, it also is looking at retail participation and has signed on Decorating Den as its first retail member.

Tapestria also is looking at logical expansions of product offerings. The next, said Sonnenberg, will be area rugs, with a collection due in the second quarter of 2002.

Tapestria, a venture created and supported by Hunter Douglas, also is working on forecasting and directional programs with outreach programs in development with Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

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