It is time for another segment of: Meet this indie studio! This is personally my favorite type of post and I couldn’t be happier to bring you my most recent conversation with the next independent studio: Kova Textiles.
I was lucky enough to talk with Libby Kowalski, the Founder of Kova Textiles! Libby is responsible for introducing a full range of truly unique textiles to the design industry. If you have never seen these products- you MUST take a look. The innovation of these products promise to change the design world for good.
Urban Souce: How would you describe Kova textiles to someone who has never seen them before?
Libby: Kova’s textiles are unique fabrics made from vinyl coated polyester yarns. They are used as modern solar shading solutions for the discerning residential client.
Urban Souce: Tell us- what is unique about Kova textiles?
Libby: When you think of solar shading fabrics, the usual two over two or four over four basket weave patterns come to mind. KOVA weave structures and patterns go well beyond those more simplistic weave ideas. We strive to design unique patterns which will work in modern settings. Our patterns are highly designed, woven with signature yarns, such as our KovaLux™ water clear yarn, and often hand manipulated prior to heat setting.
US: Where did the name Kova come from?
Libby: That is a simple one…I took the word Nova and changed it to Kova!
US: You use metallic fibers and interesting weave patterns – can you tell us the inspiration behind these aesthetic choices?
Libby: My parents came from the Czech Republic where cut glass crystal vases and ornamental décor. Our mantle and living room was filled with these beautiful objects. As a textile designer, I wondered if anyone had ever thought about creating a yarn that would be 100% clear and yet flexible enough to be woven in a commercial mill. Since none had….I searched for a team of engineers that could help me create such a yarn
US: What is the production process like for this product?
Libby: KOVA fabrics are woven by a weaver here in the USA and then either sent back to us and manipulated in some fashion (proprietary process) and sent to a finisher for heat setting so that the vertical and horizontal yarns will create a permanent bond. This allows the fabric to be cut with scissors and an xacto knife without fraying. Since the fabrics are sealed there is no need to bind or hem the sides. Kova products are also made of environmentally responsible materials and processes.
US: What is your design background and how did this lead you into creating the Kova line?
Libby: As a child I drew a lot, but always thought that was just a “plus”, not a life’s work. So my first career was actually in biology. Later, I decided to take art classes and eventually received my BFA in Fiberarts and Printmakng from Colorado State University. My art practice continued to grow from this point. I moved to Detroit with my two children and received my MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art under the tutelage of Gerhardt Knodel and Joan Livingstone. I taught weaving and surface design at a SUNY campus while also showing my large black and white woven artworks in galleries and museums around the country and the world. On my first sabbatical, I came to NYC and discovered just how exciting the world of art and design was here. I forgot to go home! I bought a handweaving studio 23 years ago at NYC.
Since then the C T D Studio has become well known for its dobby design and jacquard capabilities; as well as its consulting services. We still handweave all of our prototypes, so a mill can see the reality of what we have designed, rather than just looking at a paper simulation. Kova was born from the design and yarn knowledge we gleaned over the years as designers in addition to my desire to create something unique, high-end and different that what was already out there. Since my left and right brain areas seem to work equally well, it made it easy to work technically with the engineers on our signature KovaLux™ water clear yarn. It has been a long and delightful career.
A sample of Libby's art work: a cloth wall hanging, entitled "The Truth We Run From is So Small Only the Promise Is Great":
US: We love getting to see a glimpse of your artwork! It also helps shed light on your design practice. As far as your work in the design world; what has been your favorite application of the Kova products?
Libby: Solar shades, wrapped panels, and laminates….
US: What is the work day like for you?
Libby: Talking with clients, directing traffic, working on the computer, attending meetings, introducing the fabrics to design firms.
US: What would you tell designers if they were looking into your product for a current project?
Libby: Urban Source sells our fabrics by the yard (3 yard minimum), or by the roll (for larger projects). We have had very good experiences with Urban Source. They really understand our fabrics and have a wonderful fabricator that does too. It makes the relationship between us work out very well.
In addition to having all our fabrics pass the NFPA 701, some of our patterns also pass the Wezenbeek double rub test at 100,000 double rubs without any abrasion. All fabrics go beyond the ACT standards for UV… Class 5 at 60 hours on the AATCC UV test. So it has great solar properties, as well as isolative properties in the winter!
US: Is there anything else you want us to know about Kova?
Libby: With Kova, I am coming out with new colorways of some of the patterns. This is a time consuming process, but is well worth the effort. Keep checking back with Urban Source for new Kova products and colorways.
Thanks, Libby, for taking the time to talk with us!
Stop by the urban Source showroom to see (and FEEL) the Kova products in person!