1.13.2005

Soft Vinyl Weaves Through a Designer’s Vision to Redefine Flooring

There’s no denying the creative talents of nationally acclaimed designer Sandy Chilewich, but she’s also proving to be quite the entrepreneur. Her unique brand of vinyl flooring accentuates spaces from European auto shows to the showrooms of Herman Miller, Inc. And sales of her creation continue doubling each year.

She found an “aesthetic and interesting” choice in vinyl in 2001 when looking for a versatile textile to match her interest in fabric coloration and weaving. Chilewich’s passion for reinterpreting textile applications led her and husband architect Joe Sultan to design an alternative to conventional flooring. The result of their creative vision was Plynyl™ – a woven fabric made of extruded vinyl yarn with a polyester core, and bonded to a soft polyurethane cushion. “The underlying attraction of Plynyl is that it can be used everywhere in a variety of colors and thicknesses,” said Chilewich. “It also provides a more utilitarian, modern, cool surface in place of traditional carpeting.”

The founder of HUE Hosiery, a successful company she sold in 1992, earned recognition in 1999 with her Raybowl™ creations. The bowls come in a variety of colors and unique concave shapes, each featuring a fabric fit taut around a metal frame.

Plynyl’s visual qualities and durability earned Chilewich the 2001 International Contemporary Furniture Fair Award. She’s landed installations at the 9,000-square-foot New York showroom of Herman Miller, Inc., the renowned global designer and manufacturer of contemporary furnishings and interior products. Plynyl also covered 18,000 square feet of space at the Renault International Auto Show in Geneva.

Its modern, metallic look and durability under the foot traffic of an exhibit showroom also made it a material of choice for Renault shows in Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo over the past two years.
“Plynyl is tough enough for commercial use and for cars to park on it – but it is also perfect for businesses and even homes with dogs and children,” Chilewich said.

It is available in a multitude of rich woven textures and colors ranging from high-tech “metallics” to the natural look of sisal. It comes in rolls and pre-cut mats, providing unlimited design possibilities. Pre-cut Plynyl mats are ideal for residential and commercial environments because the edges are not bound and provide a thin sleek profile.

The true richness, softness and subtle natural weave texture of the fabric is on full display when Plynyl is installed in sheets as a wall-to-wall application, where it can be simply glued down to the floor as in the case of resilient flooring or carpet, with the polyurethane backing providing a non-skid surface.

Because the fabric and backing are soft, installing Plynyl over concrete or wood panel products and cutting with conventional carpet installation knives is easy. Installers can use either multi-purpose or releasable adhesives, or seam sealers, depending on the expected traffic and application. Since Plynyl is similar to vinyl composition tile in thickness, similar transition strips can be used if required. The floor covering is guaranteed to maintain its texture and appearance for 10 years.

Taking vinyl out of its traditional context, Chilewich has built a successful brand from her innovative use of the material for many consumer products, including bags, placemats and area rugs. She is now working vinyl into yet another innovation.

“The durability of the yarn, its tremendous design versatility and the fact that it is washable has inspired me to create a modern interpretation of lace and crochet for window treatments,” she said.

In partnership with Silent Gliss, a European shade manufacturer, she makes vinyl windowLACE, a semitransparent, finely woven vinyl-fiberglass screen in a variety of open work patterns.

For more information on Plynyl and Chilewich’s work, visit http://www.chilewich.com/. For Silent Gliss, visit http://www.homecollection.info/.


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Few materials can stand up to the excessive cleaning of sterile environments. Vinyl flooring is impervious to water and welded seams can prevent contaminants from being lodged in the seam area.
— Mo Stein, AIA, The Stein-Cox Group

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