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Folded fabric roof for a French art gallery and winery

October 1, 2017

What could be more agreeable than a glass of French wine while viewing French art in the landscape of southern France, a landscape made famous by the 19th-century Impressionist/proto-Cubist painter Paul Cézanne? This conflux of ideal conditions melds perfectly in the recently completed Château La Coste Art Gallery, a new venue for viewing artworks while …

Multifunctional fabrics and material innovations

What spurs innovation? Does the kernel of a new idea spring forth fully formed from the brow of a genius, or does it gestate over a long, arduous path involving sweat and heavy lifting? Maybe a bit of both, if you dig into the histories of new materials or processes. Often you will find that …

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Museum of Modern Art fabric exhibition in 1956

September 1, 2017

In 1956, all of New York City’s art world was abuzz about a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It wasn’t the retrospective about the French Impressionist painter Henri Matisse, whose works were newly arrived in New York from Paris (a show that originated at the French National Museum of Modern Art), …

Thermal control technology in textiles expands to a wide variety of industries

June 29, 2017

Recent advances in thermal control for apparel have grabbed the headlines in this type of textile technology, but there are highly sophisticated materials and technologies that are less obvious, but at least as impressive, especially in building interiors and exteriors and other energy-saving applications in everyday life. Depending on the desired outcome, an approach to …

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A sculptural fabric roof for a high-end mall in Mexico

June 1, 2017

A sculptural fabric roof complements the expansion of a high-end mall. Cuernavaca is the capital of Mexico’s Morelos state, located in the lush Tepozteco Mountains just south of and bordering Mexico City. With a warm, stable climate that ranges year-round from 20–30 degrees C (68–86 degrees F), it has legitimate claim to “City of the …

Opening the door to architects

April 1, 2017

Experts discuss the best way to encourage designers to use fabric in their projects. Confession:  I am a licensed architect (please don’t hold that against me!) and I like fabric. I am also a teacher of young architects and designers and take every opportunity to introduce students to the wonders of fabric in architecture and …

Keeping up with carbon

March 1, 2017

Demand for carbon fiber stresses market ability to provide it,  but costs and efficiences are expected to improve. Although carbon fiber as a commodity has been around since the late 1960s, only in the past 10 years can there truly be considered a dynamic market of real substance with steady growth potential. Others in the …

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Inside and out

November 1, 2016

Collecting rainwater, bird-proofing facades, even deflecting airborne volcanic fragments—buildings today are integrated with fabric in nontraditional ways. Architectural fabric can be integrated into buildings in more than the common uses such as roofs, shading devices and exterior cladding. Architects are now finding ways for fabric to improve building performance with special applications and unique materials. …

New materials take portable structures to another level

October 1, 2016

For Harry Osborne, creative lead at “brand experience agency” SET Live, headquartered in London, the graphic applications and collection of temporary structures throughout the “Google on the Beach 2015” (GoB) event were an exercise in balance. “A balance between getting the most from Anthony Burril’s incredible artwork,” says Osborne, “but also satisfying the local council’s …

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Enhancing the “legitimacy” of portable structures

September 16, 2016

The concept of a portable structure seems contrary to normal expectations. A building, after all, should be grounded with a solid footing and not move! Nevertheless, Aaron Betsky, architecture critic, curator and the dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Scottsdale, Ariz., argued in a recent online opinion piece that temporary structures should …

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Faith in the details

September 6, 2016

When it comes to specifying hardware for shade structures, fabricators and clients can rely on the wisdom of “sweating the details.” “Ideally, the fabricator and architect should be working together from the schematic phase,” says Erik Jarvie, PE, sales engineer with Tension Structures, a division of Eide Industries Inc., Cerritos, Calif.  “The knowledge of a …

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There are right and wrong ways to fix a shade structure in place

September 1, 2016

As anyone with knowledge of the history of tension structures will tell you, there is a logical and long-standing connection between marine hardware and tension structure hardware. One came from the other. Or more accurately, one (tension structure hardware) is an adaptation of the other (marine hardware). And just as the extreme environmental conditions of …

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Canada is putting a new emphasis on developing smart textiles and wearable innovations

Textile is rapidly becoming the most effective wearable technology form factor,” says Tony Chahine, CEO of Myant & Co., a member of the Canadian-based Smart Textile and Wearables Innovation Alliance (STWIA). “Smart textiles and wearables have the ability to provide a holistic picture of the body, enhance everyday life and even transform the future of …

Let there be (flexible) light

May 1, 2016

As efficiencies continue to improve, more applications are found for flexible photovoltaics. For a long time, it was common knowledge that thin film and flexible photovoltaics (PV) were not practical because of their lower efficiencies compared with more traditional glass-encased PV. That is no longer the case. Efficiencies are now comparable (approaching or exceeding 20 …

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Tropical canopies

April 1, 2016

Climate and sustainability goals dictate the choice of ETFE membrane structures for the U.S. Embassy in Laos. In the capital city of Vientiane, Laos, the U.S. Embassy complex recently underwent major rebuilding and a thorough sustainability assessment. The outcome of this multi-year process produced some of the most energy-efficient, sustainable facilities to date for the …

Collecting sun and rain

March 1, 2016

A pair of dynamic fabric structures bookend the Taiwan landscape. From the northern most tip of Taiwan, where capital city Taipei is located, to the southwest coast, where Kaohsiung City, the country’s industrial center, greets the setting sun, two new installations showcase the capabilities of tensioned fabric. The north-south oriented island nation of Taiwan (population …

Inventing the game

December 1, 2015

The Last Word Inventing the game Sy Hyman, company founder and retired CEO of Herculite®, is a long-time member of IFAI and became an Honored Life Member in 2014. He shared with us some insights about the challenges of marketing laminated synthetics with a start-up company when no market existed: about learning from customers, production …

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Back to the future

November 1, 2015

From 1915 to 2015—and beyond—we’ve gone from horsepower to hovercraft, yet business basics still surround technology. If the only constant in life is change, that’s also certainly true for the specialty fabrics industry and Specialty Fabrics Review, whether from a perspective inside the industry or the view from outside. Beginning as a narrowly focused journal …

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Celebrating 100 years of Review

In its earliest incarnation, the Review began as a newsletter shortly after the National Tent & Awning Manufacturers Association was formed in 1912, and gradually took on characteristics resembling a journal of record for the industry, reporting on trends and important industry developments. It became a magazine with the November 1915 publication of The National …

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An awning of a different color

April 2, 2015

Carrying the load: Framed awnings and tensile awnings must meet different engineering and code standards. Erik Jarvie, structural engineer and sales manager for TensionStructures (a division of Eide Industries Inc., Cerritos, Calif.) lays it out straight on the curvy business of tensile awnings: “Tensile awnings typically have fabric that is under a significant amount of …

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Behind the curves

April 1, 2015

Tensile structures add exciting new dimensions —and distinct engineering challenges— to the commercial shade products market. It could be said, like the mythical Greek lion-goat-snake beast the chimera, that the tensile awning is a creature of blended ancestors. Not long ago, structures with tensile fabric characteristics started appearing in places often reserved for framed awnings …

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Tensile awnings, by design

March 16, 2015

Designing and fabricating tensile awnings calls for a special skill set. Craig Flanagan, long-time owner of Shade to Order P/L, Gateshead, NSW, Australia, knows a thing or two about producing tensile awnings and canopies. He has some recommendations for those interested in the market. “In a small factory the fabricator is the sales person, designer, …

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The art (and science) of being flexible

December 1, 2014

Some of the most innovative new materials for architectural applications are found in flexible composites: 1+1=3 Buildings are supposed to stand up strong and—believe it or not—be both flexible and durable. Despite impressions to the contrary, even buildings made of steel and concrete must be flexible to resist cracking and ultimately falling apart. The length …

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“Skinning the box”

July 1, 2014

The challenge is finding the right materials in architectural applications. Is the building cladding going to be massive and highly insulated, or is it going to be layer upon layer of thin insulating materials? Will the south and west sides be completely glazed or mostly opaque? The most important challenge in designing and constructing a …

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Economies of scope

June 1, 2014

Fabric structures designed for storage, warehousing and shelter can be as durable as brick-and-mortar structures, and far more flexible. With the construction of fabric structures consistently meeting (and often exceeding) stringent building codes, you’d think that more clients would opt for one of these highly engineered and efficient fabric-clad buildings. With clearspan or air-supported fabric …

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Going to extremes

February 1, 2014

Despite worldwide climate issues, fabric structures meet the environmental challenges. News of a 100-year “polar vortex” in the U.S. midwestern states, increasing tsunami destruction in the Caribbean and coastal Japan, typhoons in Southeast Asia—one could begin to believe that “extreme climate conditions” is an oxymoron, because it seems that the unusual is becoming the usual. …

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Positively portable structures

November 1, 2013

High-performance cladding makes transportable fabric structures unique—and practical. Native Americans have known for eons about the virtues of lightweight, flexible fabric-wrapped structures, long before Europeans arrived in North America in the 15th century. Camping enthusiasts have appreciated lightweight, portable tents for generations. Likewise, rock concert road shows have benefited from the sophisticated techniques of mobile …