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Into The Wash

Shibori, the Ancient Art of Japanese Tie-Dye


If you haven’t already heard, there’s an “old-meets-new” trend happening in the world of design, fashion and home decor called shibori. Shibori is an ancient Japanese resist-dyeing technique that is currently experiencing a resurgence thanks to world-renowned fashion and home decor designers like Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Eileen Fisher, and Dior.

So, what’s all the excitement about tie dyeing? Though the Japanese word, shibori, is commonly translated “tie-dyed”, (or from the verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press”) this description hardly gives justice to the various and beautifully hand-crafted techniques involved in creating shibori designs.

More than just a Blue Rug

Traditionally, shibori is a process that involves folding, crumpling, stitching, binding, twisting, knotting and dyeing fabric  . It’s a slow, creative exploration of shape-resisted designs that lean into imperfection with a dash of chance and accidental magic. The decorative effect is a one-of-a-kind pattern in a myriad of indigo shades, that offers a relaxed, yet fashion-forward texture to an ensemble or space.

Ironically, and according to Oriana DiNella, New York-based designer and owner of Orishibori, “It feels like a rebellion against the fashion movement, where everything seems so fast and disposable.” 

Shibori patterns vary greatly, but often enjoy soft, blurry-edges in circular waves, free-flowing stripes, repeating linear lines, or star-bursts of indigo blue and crisp white. The maker works in harmony with the textile, which is often cotton, silk, wool or linen. By folding, twisting, sewing portions in tight gathers, knotting, or compressing the fabric between boards, there are areas created where the ink cannot reach, thus creating the shibori pattern. Spaces that are undyed can be left as is or embellished by hand-brushing on dyes, embroidery, or the application of gold or silver foil onto the fabric.

"Shibori patterns vary greatly, but often enjoy soft, blurry-edges in circular waves, free-flowing stripes, repeating linear lines, or star-bursts of indigo blue and crisp white."

Ruggable's New Shibori-inspired Collection

We’re excited to share our new Ruggable Coastal Collection, named after the Japanese words for one, two, three (Ichi, Ni, San). This line includes three washable rugs inspired by the shibori technique, adding an element of human-made design into this line.

Our Art Director, Zane Kearney, created the patterns on our shibori rugs using a take on the Itajime technique, or sandwiching pleated fabric between two pieces of wood. After formulating a few test colors to get the correct shade of indigo, Zane folded lightweight cotton shirting into accordion pleats and held it in place using acrylic rulers and rubber bands. The result is a beautiful work of shibori-inspired art that features patterns with an organic, yet deliberate look and feel.

How to Incorporate Shibori Into your Home

Today shibori designs can be seen on the pages of high-fashion and decor magazines, runways, and online retail shops. From napkins, fabric, pillows, and baskets to iPhone cases, wallpaper and rugs, this indigo-forward, tie-dyeing trend is a sophisticated and effortless design choice that’s both timely and timeless.

“Compared to the tie-dyes of a generation ago,” founder and creative director Shanan Campanero states, “today's shibori-inspired works feature patterns that are more careful, deliberate and traditional.” Not surprising, these hand-crafted designs can be costly, so the emergence of screen printing and computer graphics techniques forged the way for consumers to have access to more patterns and products.

Shibori designs is a wonderful way to broaden your decorative repertoire and can be placed in any number of spaces. In addition to the traditionally placed tie-dye furnishings in Bohemian-inspired rooms, modern homes can be infused with texture and interest by way of a shibori natural rug, upholstered sofa, throw or pillows. Shibori patterned rugs, poufs, and wall hangings can bring on-trend style to transitional and coastal interiors. Updating a vintage chair or sofa with shibori fabric, along with a few tie-dyed throw pillows is a clever way to sneak in a relaxed print or two into traditional or contemporary homes.

Shibori En Vogue

Recent fashion and decor designers have been inspired by and are making an edgy statement with shibori, such as Stella Mccartney and Stella Jean with celebrity Zendaya who is wearing a shibori ensemble from her spring/summer 2018 collection. Vera Wang's bedding collection embraces the beautiful bleeding and fluidity of shibori patterns, while Ralph Lauren's features his use of shibori in swimwear and clothing. From the runway, we see Issey Miyake’s design genius using shibori-printed textiles in his modern interpretation of the kimono-style dress,  along with the laid-back, moody vibe of Laura Siegel’s spring 2018 ready-to-wear line.

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  • Krista says:
    11.29.18 at 03:49pm

    Hi. Do you have any rugs that are in a circular shape instead of the traditional rectangular or square?

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