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Culp’s LiveSmart performance fabric covers seating in UNC’s Smith Center

Industry News, News | January 14, 2022 | By:

As a way to honor the late Rob Culp, co-founder of Culp, Inc. and his beloved alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill, the seats in the Smith Center are newly covered with fabric created by the company he started 50 years ago.

When Carolina Athletic Director, Bubba Cunningham, mentioned that it bothered him to see how dirty the seats were, Iv Culp, president and CEO  of Culp, Inc., thought to himself, “Wait a minute. This is definitely something we can fix.”

The decision was made to use Culp’s LiveSmart performance fabric, which is moisture repellent, stain resistant, fade resistant, and heavy duty.

“When they brought in the fabric to show us and demonstrate its capabilities, they literally poured Coke on the fabric, and wiped it right off with a dry rag,” said Smith Center Director Brett Botta. “Then they did the same thing with ketchup and two or three more ‘pain points’ for us, and they all wiped right off, which was pretty cool.”

“In our business, we’ve been focused on performance products for the last five years,” said Iv Culp. “Everything in upholstery, whether its home or hospitality, is looking for cleanable products. I knew that our advanced line of LiveSmart fabrics would be perfect for the job.”

The fabric was a great fit, but the key for both the Athletics Department and Culp was matching the exact pantone shade of Carolina Blue – which, like it or not, is not a very common fabric color in the upholstery world and would require some trial and error to match exactly. Enter Tammy Buckner, Culp’s senior vice president of design and marketing, who was responsible for the color matching.

“We took multiple fabric samples to the Dean Dome to make sure that when the lights were turned on, it didn’t cast any other color on television or in the arena itself,” Buckner said. “It was a long process, but we were determined to get it right.”

Beginning in March 2021, the cushions in the lower bowl and the mezzanine were removed in 2,000-2,500 seat blocks and shipped away to be re-covered. All of the cushions were back in place by October.

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