So hot right now: Ikat for interiors

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012

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One of the big style trends of the moment is the use of ikat (pronounced eee-cat) and the stylised concepts of this technique.

Ikat is a traditional dying technique where a dye-resistant binding is used to wrap the thread in
order to create the design. Incredibly time consuming and done by hand, it adds a variation to the finished weave that results in a type of blurred effect - gorgeous colours literally running into each other. The similar technique of tie-dye also uses dye resistant binding but after the fabric has been woven.

The name is derived from the Malaysian word mengikat which means to tie, knot, bind or wind around.

The style has now been taken into other areas of design. Fabrics, in particular, are showing this look now in print, embroidery and even cut velvets, and have a similar effect to a flame stitch.

Ikats can be checks, stripes, circles, damasks or small 'ditty' patterns - the common thread is the fuzzy edges which create a stunning design but with a certain softness. Some of the earliest
fabric artifacts found in most parts of the world seem to include such yarn dying techniques, which date back to the 7th century or so.

This huge ikat look has made the leap to incorporate more flamboyant colours - taking the best of today's jewel colours and blending them with the more natural dye colours. It is interesting that this is a similar take on the 'water coloured' ink jet fabric designs that are hot off the press.

When decorating with ikat designs, as with most patterned fabrics, it is important to be brave. Layer patterns of different scale together but keep to a relatively coordinated colour palette - a little as if you were dressing yourself. Try them in bedheads, fabulous throws, cushions and eye-catching ottomans. A screen can look great - and will add just a touch of Asia. Even stretching a gorgeous ikat over a canvas will add an instant piece of art.

Ikats sit beautifully with textured velvets, appliquéd and embroidered linens and almost anything with a quirky, artisan feel.


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