• Product information: Chieftain MultiStretch

    Performance fabric – Chieftain MultiStretch Rosemary

     

    At Chieftain our passion is producing the best vinyl fabrics possible. As part of this process we work closely with specifiers, designers and members of the upholstery community. This group helped us at every step in the development of MultiStretch, an eight way stretch fabric ideally suited for seating where comfort is paramount.

    Technology fabric
    All of the Chieftain MultiStretch range consists of a backing cloth which is 92% cotton and 8% Lycra.
    Lycra (also known as Spandex or elastane) is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. It is stronger and more durable than natural rubber and is a polyester-polyurethane copolymer that was invented in 1958.
    With this mixture, we have virtually eliminated directionality, making the fabric easy to use and superb in upholstery.

    Performance fabric
    In situations where comfort needs to be at a maximum, the fabric must also remain practical for both the patient to use and staff to clean and maintain. We add silver zeolite based Ciba IRGAGUARD B5000 which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mould and yeast. Furthermore, these protective ingredients have allowed MultiStretch to counteract C.difficile, E.coli as well as MRSA and the vast majority of bacteria

    Colour palette
    MultiStretch consists of nine colours ranging from lighter to darker shades which provides beautiful tonal balance within the range while providing uncompromised durability. Although a limited spectrum, we have carefully focused the range to ensure it works where required.

    Conscious Design
    MultiStretch is REACH compliant, according to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals.


    References
    Wikipedia, (2015). Spandex. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandex [Accessed 26 May 2015].

    Echa.europa.eu, (2015). REACH – ECHA. [online] Available at: http://echa.europa.eu/regulations/reach [Accessed 27 May 2015].

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  • The Challenge of Specification

    Increasingly large clients want bespoke items, such as this custom ‘Santander Red’ fabric designed and manufactured by Chieftain Fabrics for Pledge, pledgechairs.co.uk

    Recently, Design Insider noted that a smooth specification process can help ensure a project impresses while saving time and money for client, designer and supplier.

    Although we live in a world of constant change, both sides need to retain a level of flexibility.

    Design Insider also notes how;

    Traditionally there has been a lot of bespoke work…but that hasn’t really been the case for fabrics, which are much more intensive to set up. This has changed – and not just at the top end of the market. Big franchises want something unique for their brand.

    Gordon points out that ‘supplier performance excellence gives companies competitive advantage. To the extent that suppliers perform well, companies enjoy a competitive boost, since this performance is reflected in lower costs, improved responsiveness to customers, better-quality goods and services and technological advantage’. Design Insider also notes that the specifier should consider whole-life costs when selecting various products for a fit-out. Products can appear cheaper in the short term, but often they won’t come with sufficient warranties or guarantees. In specification it tends to be all about value for money as opposed to bottom-line costs.

    Keeping up with a fast moving marketplace is also a challenge to many designers who have an opportunity to offer innovative solutions. One recent development, according to the telegraph.co.uk, is the phenomenon dubbed ‘showrooming’, in which people use their phones to examine whether their prospective purchases are available cheaper online or elsewhere. This places conventional Contract suppliers with a real challenge as ‘showrooming’ offers immediate transparency. However, this can also lead to problems as contract suppliers specialise in ensuring their supplied products meet the special requirements and regulations that apply to all furniture used for commercial purposes – fire regulations, levels of usage, resistance to abrasion, pilling, soiling, seam strength, etc.. This also forces suppliers to be more flexible too. According to Design Insider, ‘The whole relationship between supplier and client has changed. It’s much more stressful but much more creative’.

    In summary,  there is a challenge of specification, but a clear, knowledgeable, specification process can ensure a project impresses and ultimately saves the client time and money.


    References

    Slideshare.net, (2015). The Art of Planning and Writing Specifications and Requirements . [online] Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/Tanel/the-art-of-planning-and-writing-specifications-and-requirements-ism-conference-0410 [Accessed 28 May 2015].

    Thebcfa.com, (2015). Design Insider. [online] Available at: http://www.thebcfa.com/res/Design%20Insider%202015%20Smaller1.pdf [Accessed 28 May 2015].

    Gordon, S. R. (2008) Supplier Evaluation and Performance Excellence: A Guide to Meaningful metrics and successful results. Florida, USA: J. Ross Publishing.

    Warman, M. (2013). The future of shopping: from high street to iStreet. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9821702/The-future-of-shopping-from-high-street-to-iStreet.html [Accessed 29 May 2015].

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  • Do low prices = poor quality?

    Benjamin Franklin said that “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.

    This is something we see on a daily basis with contract fabrics.

    Should you complete a search for ‘poor vinyl furniture’ you will be served a collection of images where vinyl fabric appears to be cracking and falling apart. Naturally, owners become very annoyed and then vent anger on various websites, enraged that the colour is fading, rubbing off or that the material is flaking – telltale signs of poorly manufactured vinyl products.

    With the power of social media, consumers are now fully empowered to express their dissatisfaction with poor quality products and express their unhappiness. YouTube hosts an assortment of videos from irate customers, one titled ‘Don’t buy a sofa from DFS until you have seen this!’ has over 83,000 views. The video gives an indepth review of the poor quality fabric used in a couch and viewers with a similar experience are able to add comments and show support.

    In 2010, BBC News reported on how a court sanctioned £1,800 payouts to 408 claimants in a multimillion-pound compensation battle over so-called “toxic sofas”. Certain couches sold in the UK contained chemical sachets with dimethyl fumerate – or DMF – placed inside the sofas to stop them from going mouldy during storage. However, when the sachets got warm, the chemical evaporated into the air causing painful blisters and sores for people sitting on the sofa.

    Time Magazine published an article asking ‘Does a Low Price Mean Good Value or Bad Quality?’, the article notes that;

    because consumers can’t know everything about a product, we fill in the gaps with our own (naïve) theories to help us make decisions about whether the cheaply priced product is a terrific deal or a piece of junk.

    When we choose a product or service exclusively on price, we have to ask if the low price = poor quality as people end up always paying more in the long run, as the lowest price tends to force shortcuts at some point, especially in relation to products that are manufactured. Unfortunately, these shortcuts may not be be initially apparent.

    But what do buyers actually want ?

    According to Brooks, the top three reasons that people buy from a particular suppliers are:

    1. An Easy, “No-Brainer” Relationship
    2. Reliability and Dependability
    3. Predictability

    An Easy, “No-Brainer” Relationship is when you provide your prospects and customers with a relationship in which they get what they want, when they need it, on time and in good shape. Reliability and Dependability is ensuring People know that they can rely on you. Predictability is when all of your actions and behaviours have been consistently professional and always handled effectively and efficiently, customers will be able to say you are “predictable” based on your past relationship and reputation.


    References

    Tuttle, B. (2015). Does a Low Price Mean Good Value or Bad Quality?. [online] TIME.com. Available at: http://business.time.com/2012/11/14/does-a-low-price-mean-good-value-or-bad-quality/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2015].

    Eyesonsales.com, (2015). 12 Things Your Buyers Want Other Than Lowest Price. [online] Available at: http://www.eyesonsales.com/content/article/12_things_your_buyers_want_other_than_lowest_price/ [Accessed 18 May 2015].

    BBC News, (2015). ‘Toxic sofa’ claimants win payouts over DMF – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-11998238 [Accessed 19 May 2015].

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  • Fabric Technology Changes

    Side Profile of Just Colour Vinyl fabric at 100x

    Since coated fabrics such as vinyl were invented in the early 1900’s, the industry has constantly been reinventing itself with fabric technology changes. Coated fabrics are engineered composite materials, produced by a combination of a textile fabric and a polymer coating applied to the fabric surface. As the material is engineered and involves technical processes, research and development departments are always looking for ways to improve.

    Fung points out that fabric and coating lamination draws on several disciplines, including textile technology, chemistry, polymer chemistry and engineering skills. Chieftain Fabrics have been refining the process since the company was founded in 1954 and over the past number of years have made some significant enhancements to the process, our most notable achievements include:

    Polyvinyl chloride

    By adjusting the mechanical properties of our PVC, we have achieved better thermal stability and additional resistant to acids (citrus fruit, vinegar etc.) & bases (bleach, cleaning agents, etc.). In addition, we use a higher quality of PVC,  so that it is easier to recycle our vinyl when the product reaches the end of its working life.

    Antimicrobial additive

    By adapting constituent antimicrobial elements we are able to achieve a dual improvement with our vinyl. First, our antimicrobial elements were brought inline with  REACH requirements, REACH is a European Regulation and is an acronym for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals in the EU.

    Second, the improved formula increased performance against the spread of a large number of bacteria, molds, mildews and yeasts, making the fabric perform better in situations where this is a priority such as healthcare, retail & transportation.

    Backing cloth

    By slightly adjusting the standard weave technique, Chieftain strengthened the cotton yarn significantly in the finished product to have elevated strength parameters in all strength tests performed on our fabric.

    Plasticiser

    We removed phthalate plasticiser from our vinyl and now use only phthalate free materials which meet and exceed current REACH requirements, without affecting any of the performance properties. Phthalates are additives added to some plastics and are noted for having possible side effects in humans.

    We also improved the plasticiser barrier of vinyl to offer better performance during use.

    Stabilisers for PVC and pigments

    By carefully adjusting the portion of stabilisers in our fabric, we now obtain better UV (ultra violet) resistance to degradation, which enables higher performance against sunshine and weather conditions.

    Lacquers

    By working in close partnership with our supplier of lacquers, Stahl BV, who are headquartered in the Netherlands, Chieftain have been able to suggest formulation updates to provide better adhesion, abrasion, flexibility and anti-soiling properties.

    In relation to production, Chieftain is dedicated to a continual improvement process from both a technical and aesthetic perspective, we constantly evaluate new methods and practices.

    For instance, currently, we are conducting research into 3D printing, a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, where our unique cotton backing cloth is used as a base layer. Potentially, this could allow us to ‘print’ fabric on demand in any colour, texture or pattern.

    Initial results are mixed, but to quote Edison;

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.


    References

    Fung, W. (2000) Coated and Laminated Textiles. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Ltd.

    Kumar Sen, A. (2008) Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications, Second Edition. Florida: CRC Press.

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  • Chieftain Vinyl Colour Ideas

    A question we often get asked at Chieftain Fabrics is what colour do we recommend to match to a particular vinyl? The simple answer is, it all depends.

    Certain colours work well together, yet contrasting colours can be used to give effect.

    Complementary Colours Schemes
    According to ‘On The Theory of Light and Colours’, complementary colours are pairs of colours which, when combined, cancel each other out. This means that when combined, they produce a grey scale colour like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those particular two colours.

    Some complementary colours in our Just Colour range include:

    Analogous Colour Schemes
    Tigercolor.com highlights that analogous colour schemes use colours that are next to each other. They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs. Analogous colour schemes are often found in nature, are harmonious and pleasing to the eye.

    Some analogous colours in our Just Colour range include:

    Triad
    Again, Tigercolor.com, indicates that a triadic colour scheme uses colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel. Triadic colour harmonies tend to be quite vibrant, even if you use pale or unsaturated versions of your hues. To use a triadic harmony successfully, the colors should be carefully balanced – where one colour is used to dominate and the two others for accent.

    Some triad colours in our Just Colour range include: 

    We also asked our inhouse design team to pick some suggestions from our ranges and suggest colours that work well together, some Chieftain Vinyl Colour ideas include:

    Colours vary from screen to screen as no two viewing configurations are the same. To learn more about this phenomena we suggest reading this short article ‘Is Your Computer Colour Blind?’.

    Finally, Wikipedia notes that a person’s perception of colour is a subjective process whereby the brain responds to the stimuli that are produced when incoming light reacts with the several types of cone cells in the eye. In essence, different people see the same illuminated object or light source in different ways.

    Edit: 19 June 2015
    Also worth reading in relation to colour: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121843/philosophy-color-perception


    References

    Young, T. (1802). The Bakerian Lecture: On the Theory of Light and Colours. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 92(0), pp.12-48.

    Tigercolor.com, (2015). Color Harmonies: complementary, analogous, triadic color schemes. [online] Available at: http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-harmonies.htm [Accessed 21 May 2015].

    Wikipedia, (2015). Color vision. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision [Accessed 22 May 2015].

  • Crib Test Explained

    British Standards are the standards produced by BSI Group which ‘Set up standards of quality for goods and services, and prepare and promote the general adoption of British Standards’ (Wikipedia, 2015).

    In relation to furniture and upholstery there are a number of British Standards which must be observed. Furniture standards and regulations worldwide, such as BS 4875 (structural testing of domestic and contract seating), impose strict flammability testing for fabrics used in the upholstery process.

    According to FIRA, the Furniture Industry Research Association,

    flammability testing is increasingly important, with the effects of different tests (match, cigarette, crib 5 and crib 7) showing the effects of different ignition sources on fabrics and fillings as specified in the many aspects of BS 5852.

    FIRA also point out that the fabric is subjected to a series of ignition sources to cover the intensities of actual sources that might be encountered in various end use environments. The typical tests include:

    Ignition source 0 – smouldering cigarette
    Ignition source 1 – match or equivalent gas flame
    Ignition source 2 – gas flame
    Ignition source 3 – gas flame
    Ignition source 4 – wood crib
    Ignition source 5 – wood crib
    Ignition source 6 – wood crib
    Ignition source 7 – wood crib

    Over time and use, these test names have been abbreviated in the furniture and upholstery industry to ‘cigarette & match’, ‘Crib 1’, ‘Crib 5’ etc. and are therefore commonly simply referred to as ‘Source 5’ or ‘Crib 5’.

    So what is involved?

    The objective of the standard is to measure the ignitability of upholstered furniture material. According to BS 5852, the ignition sources for some of the tests include:

    Ignition source 0
    A smouldering cigarette is used as an ignition source.

    Ignition source 1
    A match or equivalent gas flame, using 45ml of butane gas from a burner, is used as the ignition source.

    Ignition source 3
    A gas flame, using 350ml of butane gas from a burner, is used as the ignition source.

    Ignition source 5
    A wooded crib, made of dry wood stacked in a lattice formation weighing 17g, is used as the ignition source.

    According to Fr-one.com the wooden crib is composed of small ‘wooden planks, glued together’ akin to Jenga blocks. The crib is placed on the test rig and ignited with a match. If no flaming or progressive smoldering is observed on both cover and interior material, the test is recorded as ‘no ignition’ and the material passes the test.

    Figure 1: Ignited Wooden crib – Ignition source 5 or ‘Crib 5’ Credit: www.satra.co.uk

    British Standard indicate that the size of the Crib vary depending on the test and are conducted within specified temperature and humidity ranges. Each test is conducted in duplicate and both tests must satisfy the pass/fail criteria in order to comply with the test requirements. Typical pass/fail criteria for Crib 5 include escalating flaming, flame passing through the full thickness of the fabric or any fabric that continues to flame 10 minutes after igniting the crib.

    Ferco seating, who produce a wide choice of seating for auditoria of all types, present a video on YouTube where two test seats are ignited – One with Crib 5 rated fabric and one without. At 2:51, the wooden crib is placed on a seat and ignited;

    The video is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxRkDekn7kk


    References

    Wikipedia, (2015). British Standards. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Standards [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015].

    Fira.co.uk, (2015). FIRA – Technical Information – Registered Article. [online] Available at: http://www.fira.co.uk/technical-information/article/32/how-is-ignition-resistance-measured [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015].

    British Standards (2006) BS 5852:2006 Methods of test for assessment of the ignitability of upholstered seating by smouldering and flaming ignition sources. London.

    Fr-one.com, (2015). FR Fabric Standard | British BS 5852 source 0, 1, 5 (Cigarette, Match) and (Crib 5). [online] Available at: http://www.fr-one.com/en/standard/british-bs-5852-source-0-1-5-cigarette-match-and-crib- [Accessed 21 Apr. 2015].

    Satra.co.uk, (2015). Spotlight – Upholstered contract furniture flammability. [online] Available at: https://www.satra.co.uk/spotlight/article_view.php?id=289 [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

    YouTube, (2015). Ferco Seating Crib 5 Seat Fire Test. [online] Available at: http://chieftainfabrics.com/24 [Accessed 21 Apr. 2015].

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  • The Good and the Bad Vinyl Fabrics

    Side by side comparison, a poorly produced vinyl fabric will ‘look’ the same as a highly engineered version.

     

    A known idiom reminds us not to be ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ and in almost any purchase or specification decision we can easily get seduced by a lower price and not fully realise the actual cost. We have all experienced this in one form or another, but is this apparent in a fabric specification decision? Surely fabric is fabric?

    Unfortunately, not all fabrics are created equally and vinyl fabric is no exception. As vinyl is a synthetic material, it can be manufactured in many ways. The marketplace has both ‘The Good and the Bad Vinyl Fabrics’. Matkovic ́ et al highlights some of the factors that contribute to good quality vinyl production which include;

    • using good quality raw materials,
    • ensuring precise control of how PU paste with the paper passes through the dryer at the correct speed of 10 mm/min,
    • how the temperature needs to be adjusted to 80℃ to allow drying of various solvents which need to evaporate.

    Not correctly managing any of these steps can have dramatic effects on the end product. Unfortunately, to look at the product, even in a side by side comparison, a poorly produced vinyl fabric will ‘look’ the same as a highly engineered version. The difference only becomes apparent after some use.
    In ‘Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications’ Sen points out that upholstery fabric is made up of layers fixed to a cotton base fabric;

    These fabrics contain a knitted base fabric, a polyurethane foam middle layer and a wear-resistant top coat…The composite is then foamed, cross-linked, and laminated to a textile base…An important requirement of the upholstery fabric is that it should have proper flame-retardant additive to reduce the ignitability of the products.

    Additional ingredients can also be added to improve the fabrics performance. For instance UV (ultraviolet) stabilisers can also be added to protect the fabric in direct sunlight. Again, from looking at a highly engineered fabric, compared to a poor grade one, there is no way of knowing if the product has UV stabilisers included and again this will not be known until the fabric starts to fade or flake after exposure to sunlight.
    Even the quantity used in each layer has a massive impact on the vinyl and the cost associated with producing it. Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications points out that;

    Upholstery-grade cloth has a thick foam layer ranging from 360 to 480 grams per meter squared, a top layer of 180 to 360 grams per meter squared.

    Producing vinyl fabric below these tolerances, which is common practice in cheaper grade vinyls, will naturally result in an inferior product, yet may remain unknown to the buyer. Typically, cheaper vinyl manufacturers use less expensive ‘fillers’ and as Sen further points out, ‘the primary role of a filler in PVC is reduction in cost’. Extensive use of filler in the production of a fabric will again have no initial visual indication.
    Again, performance would only become apparent when in situ.
    One major furniture store in the UK, DFS, came under heavy criticism for supplying poor quality furniture recently. The knock on effect was damage to the DFS brand and an investigation by BBC TV who pointed out that due to the poor quality fabric being used in their leather and faux leather sofas, they failed the necessary standards for UK fire safety regulations and were therefore shown as illegal for sale in the UK. Secondary costs such as the re-upholstery and transport are never factored in along with the damage caused to the brand and negative publicity generated. As a specifier, supplier or manufacturer of furniture, is it worth the risk? If you visit a restaurant, store or office and notice poor quality upholstered furniture where the colour is fading, rubbing off or the material is flaking, what impression does this create? What does this communicate about the organisation or brand?

    As highlighted in Mix Magazine March 2015 edition, as dealerships evolve and respond to a marketplace that views furniture as part of brand identity, contract furniture companies, are under constant pressures to deliver quality products with the correct margins. They can easily be seduced by a lower fabric price. However, for their customers, they are the centre of knowledge and excellence and must examine their client’s needs objectively and supply a coherent solution. Thinking ‘fabric is fabric’ can easily lead to poor quality selection with the end result being threefold:
    damaging the relationship with the client,
    weakening the ‘consultant’ position,
    having to absorb the additional cost of having to collect, transport, re-upholstery and re-deliver.

    • damaging the relationship with the client,
    • weakening the ‘consultant’ position,
    • having to absorb the additional cost of having to collect, transport, re-upholstery and re-deliver.

    All of which epitomises ‘penny wise, pound foolish’.


    References

    Matkovic, V, Cubric, I, and Skenderi, Z. (2014) ‘Thermal resistance of polyurethane-coated knitted fabrics before and after weathering’, Textile Research Journal, November 2014 vol. 84 no. 19. pp. 2015-2025.

    Sen, A. K (2007) Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications, Second Edition, Florida, USA:CRC Press, pp.148

    BBC, (2015). Your Money Their Tricks – DFS sales tactics – BBC One. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/r5pvRcspQH8jjJ5JJpNkvq/dfs-sales-tactics [Accessed 16 Apr. 2015].

    Furniturenews.net, (2015). Furniture retailers implicated in BBC’s fire regulation investigation. [online] Available at: http://www.furniturenews.net/news/articles/2014/01/1675215348-furniture-retailers-implicated-bbcs-fire-regulation-investigation [Accessed 16 Apr. 2015].

    Mixinteriors.com, (2015). Spotlight: The Dealer Market | March 2015. [online] Available at: http://www.mixinteriors.com/march-x2015/i/630/desc/spotlight-the-dealer-market/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2015].

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  • OVS Via Dante – experiential retail store for the 21st century customer

    A recent study of the European e-commerce industry conducted by RetailMeNot and the Centre for Retail Research, suggests that e-commerce sales will increase by 18.4% in 2015, while offline retail sales will decrease by 1.4%. With e-commerce chewing into brick and mortar sales year on year, PwC reports that “most traditional retailers are facing the biggest challenge in their histories: How do they meet consumers’ expectations of a seamless shopping experience?”

    The answer lies in cross-channel integration. VP of Marketing & Business Development at Shipwire, Nate Gilmore says “retailers with a tightly integrated online and offline experience are winning by perfecting the buyer experience on the buyer’s terms.” Some of the examples include

    1. ‘Health kiosks’ within Lloyds Pharmacy stores. The kiosks are “interactive touchscreens and printers that allow customers to browse its entire product line, place orders and pay for goods via credit card”, says Christopher Ratcliff, Deputy Editor at Econsultancy.
    2. Macy’s iOS app Shopkick that alerts the customers who enter the store about deals and items they may be interested in.
    3. The OVS Digital Experience corner within the OVS flagship store in Via Dante. It gives customers an omni-channel experience that includes “a new virtual changing room, sales assistants supporting clients with iPads, multi-media totems and click-and-collect services” says Maria Cristina Pavarini, Senior Features Editor at Sportswear International.

    We have looked at how the OVS Via Dante store serves as an example of how e-commerce, digital marketing and retail can be successfully merged to deliver a unique customer experience.

    March 2015 issue of Design: Retail Magazine featured the store as one of 10 retailers worldwide “who are challenging the paradigm with thoughtful, inspiring and new ideas.” The three-storey boutique spreads over 900 square metres with a large wall mirror with light cuts connecting the floors. The new architectural design by Vincenzo De Cotiis Architects brings together new expressive codes such as the small, free‐standing furnishing units, and pre‐existing features on the first floor that have been taken back to their original colours.

    Source: milandesignagenda.com

    The OVS Digital Experience corner is situated on the first floor. It was designed by agencies NARAI and Nuvò. The interactive Kiosk enables customers to read the bar code of an item of interest and immediately verify its availability, along with sizes and colours. Additionally, they can purchase and pay by credit card, and ship the product home or pick it up at the check outs, says Monica Gagliardi,e-commerce and CRM Manager of the Gruppo Coin. OVS partnered up with Google Enterprise to make this a reality.

    Source: behance.net

    Totem concept render. Source: behance.net

    OVS Via Dante store provides an experience that cannot be delivered by e-commerce. Its success confirms the opinion of Neil Masterton, design director of ARM Architecture who believes “retail isn’t exactly about functionalism, it isn’t specifically about ease and isn’t specifically about straightforwardness… what people want in retail is actually a set of different kinds of urban experiences.”

    This article is based on the official information surrounding the OVS Via Dante store.

  • Extended Lionella Range

    Lionella ‘Airforce Blue’ faux leather fabric launched in March 2015

    Chieftain Fabrics has been a market leader since incorporating in 1954. Chieftain has achieved many ‘firsts’ in the industry such as computer aided colour matching and developing one of the first antimicrobial vinyl fabrics.

    In May 2015 Chieftain will add twenty colours to the existing Lionella range, making Chieftain’s portfolio one of the largest on the market. The extended Lionella range is the closest alternative to natural hide available and is now offered in forty colours from ‘Airforce Blue’ to ‘Hulk Green’ and all shades in between.

    Managing Director of Chieftain Fabrics, John Kinsella;

    For quite some time the marketplace has valued Lionella although we have received feedback from users regarding the colour choice. We listened to our customers, involved them in the development process and launched the newly expanded range.

    Feedback to date has been tremendous. The expanded range now offers architects, designers and consultants further flexibility in relation to interior schemes and arrangements. For whatever brief, Lionella is beautifully executed in projects and add the luxurious touch with minimal impact to the environment during and after it’s production. John further explains

    As we move to producing more sustainable products, we are delighted to be able to make Lionella ‘Phthalate Free’ and REACH compliant without losing any of the performance characteristics that are required by our customer base

    Currently phthalates are used in a wide variety of products from building materials, personal-care products, medical devices and textiles. Phthalates can be released because they are not chemically bound to the plastics and this may lead to human exposure. Certain phthalates have been restricted recently in the EU and as a safeguard, Chieftain have began removing them totally from products.

    The new range available is phthalate free and sample cards can be ordered directly from Chieftain.

    To view the newly extended range of Lionella, visit the recently updated website at chieftainfabrics.com.

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  • Can we avoid Phthalates?

    Currently, Phthalates are almost everywhere.

    What are Phthalates?
    Phthalates are a group of chemical compounds used in the production of plastics such as PVC to make them softer and more flexible. Phthalates were first introduced in the 1920s and are used in a wide variety of products from building materials, personal-care products, medical devices to pharmaceuticals, food products, and textiles. Essentially they are contained in a multitude of everyday plastic products.
    When present in these products, phthalates can be released because they are not chemically bound to the plastics. This may lead to human exposure the net effects of this exposure remain somewhat vague.

    Where are Phthalates?
    In 2003, researchers at the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) documented:

    People are exposed to phthalates by eating and drinking foods that have been in contact with containers and products containing phthalates. To a lesser extent exposure can occur from breathing in air that contains phthalate vapors or dust contaminated with phthalate particles.

    The Guardian points out that phthalates are next to impossible to avoid. They are in multiple household items, personal care products, fragrance, household cleaners, and food. The article notes that:

    In food, for example, even milk packaged in glass may have passed through plastic tubes on its way from the cow to the bottle, taking DEHP along with it. “Milking machines use a lot of plastic and DEHP is free and very lipophilic (fat soluble), and milk is full of lipids, so it just pulls the DEHP out of the plastic tubing and into the milk,” explains Robin Whyatt, professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Medical Center and the lead author on several landmark phthalate studies (Westervelt, 2015).

    Various other pieces of research and articles point out that phthalates are endocrine disruptors. The American Chemical Council note that disruptors ‘substances mimic a natural hormone, fooling the body into over-responding to the stimulus (e.g., a growth hormone that results in increased muscle mass), or responding at inappropriate times (e.g., producing insulin when it is not needed)’.
    Similar to phthalates, BPA which stands for bisphenol A is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. According to the Mayo Clinic,

    BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines.

    Currently, there appears to be a re-assessment as to how we manufacture and utilise plastic. The US decision on BPA may well have a knock-on effect to Phthalates in the EU. In 2012 Time magazine asked the question ‘When the evidence is scary but uncertain, what will the federal government do?’. According to the same article,

    On March 30 (2012), the FDA announced that it was rejecting a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban BPA from food packaging. “While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans,” the FDA wrote in a statement following its ruling.

    However, in 2013 a California court went against these findings, and introduced a ruling specific to the state of Califormia.

    The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it intended to add BPA to California’s Proposition 65 list of harmful chemicals and require companies to warn consumers when their products can expose them to BPA.

    Are Phthalates dangerous?
    Recent EU studies conclude that more research into the use of Phthalates is required. In 2010 Reuters compiled a ‘Special Report: The problem with phthalates’ and noted that Professor Richard Sharpe, an expert in male reproductive health at Edinburgh University, believes that “understanding whether or not phthalates play any role in human male reproductive disorders is pivotal.” Animal studies, he says “point clearly toward effects, but human studies are very mixed.”

    What is the future of Phthalates?
    Allan (2014) highlighted that the Danish Environment Minister wanted to ban all Phthalates from December 2015 but a previous decision of the European Court from 2013 obscured this and demanded them to wait for the normal procedures and decisions of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), that is currently assessing, whether there is basis for an EU-wide ban.
    Similar to what happened in the US, where California decided to interpret the results in relation to BPA and list it as a harmful chemical, individual states in the EU could take a similar approach with Phthalates and require companies to warn consumers when and where they are present.


    References:
    Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks of the European Commission (2008) ‘Phthalates in school supplies’.Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/opinions/en/phthalates-school-supplies/about-phthalates-school-supplies.htm [Accessed 24 March 2015]

    Phthalate (2015). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalate [Accessed 23 March 2015].

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003) Phthalates FactSheet. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/pdf/Pthalates_FactSheet.pdf [Accessed 23 March 2015]

    Endocrine Studies (2015). Available at: http://phthalates.americanchemistry.com/Research-Phthalates/Endocrine-Studies [Accessed 1 April 2015].

    Phthalates (2014) Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm128250.htm [Accessed 24 March 2015]

    Phthalates (2015) Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Phthalates-Information/ [Accessed 24 March 2015]

    Walsh, B. (2012) Why the FDA Hasn’t Banned Potentially Toxic BPA (Yet). Available at: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2110902,00.html [Accessed 1 April 2015].

    Westervelt, A. (2015) Phthalates are everywhere, and the health risks are worrying. How bad are they really? Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/10/phthalates-plastics-chemicals-research-analysis [Accessed 23 March 2015]

    Harrison, P. (2010) ‘Special Report: The problem with phthalates’. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/10/18/us-plastics-health-idUSTRE69H1PM20101018 [Accessed 24 March 2015]

    Chemical & Engineering News (2005) ‘EU Bans Three Phthalates From Toys, Restricts Three More ‘, Volume 83, Number 28 pp. 11

    Allan. (2014) ‘EU OVERRULES A DANISH NATIONAL BAN OF FOUR PHTHALATES’. Available at: http://nipsect.dk/eu-overrules-a-danish-national-ban-of-four-phthalates/ [Accessed 24 March 2015]

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