Woven Histories

Five prominent textile designers reflect on their early training with the master craftsman and weaver, Boris Kroll.

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The designer, master weaver, and colorist Boris Kroll is responsible for influencing an entire generation of American textile designers. Background: The Tanabata textile

Courtesy Suzanne Tick Studios and Scalamandré

During his lifetime, Boris Kroll produced millions of yards of fabric that found their way into homes, offices, cruise ships, even Air Force One. Kroll was best known for combining advanced weaving techniques with bold colors to create vivid, high-quality jacquard-woven textiles. A retrospective exhibition entitled Mid-Century Maestro: The Textiles of Boris Kroll, at the New York School of Interior Design in New York City, is currently showcasing more than 80 of these historic textiles. “Kroll was a self-taught weaver who went on to establish one of the largest textile mills in America,” says Steven Stolman, president of Scalamandré, which acquired the Boris Kroll archive from the family in 1991 following his death.

This month the company is relaunching the Boris Kroll line at the BDNY show in New York. Kroll was not only an important weaver, but he also taught an entire generation of talented textile designers: Catherine Creamer, Margaret Dunford, Nancy Geisberger, Susan Lyons, Barbara Nymark, Hazel Siegel, Suzanne Tick, and Jane Wicks. All worked at Boris Kroll Fabrics and would go on to be industry leaders. To celebrate the exhibition and the release of the line, we asked five distinguished alumni to reflect on lessons learned from the master.


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Nov 20, 2013 07:12 pm
 Posted by  DrDale

Thanks for honoring an icon of modern textiles. Though I am a rank amateur and seriously undereducated in this field, I am all too well aware that textiles are today accorded nothing like the significance they will someday be realized to possess. I am reminded of the tale told (by Charles Land, in his book "1491") of the Spanish conquistadores -- dumbfounded upon being invited to cross an Incan suspended bridge over a deep chasm. They had never seen such a thing and did not trust it. A bridge without supports, of all things!

The weaving of complex 3-dimensional structures, now just beginning to be attempted in design of computer chips, would no doubt have profited much from the lost weaving knowledge of the Incas, only known peoples ever to have invented and utilized a tactile alphabet. Perhaps the legacy of Mr. Kroll and the women speaking here will contribute to regaining some semblance of what has been lost. One can only hope.

Thanks again for this article. I would have appreciated more technical details, but perhaps that is too much to ask of a mass market popular magazine?

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