Mattress Fabrics: Ticking All the Right Boxes

Today’s mattress fabrics have something for everyone—whether you’re looking for elegant, edgy or energizing.

BY BETH ENGLISH

monks mattress ticking
In addition to colorful borders and commercial knits, Monks International offers classic looks, such as this viscose fabric with a baroque design. The company is based in Wielsbeke, Belgium.

Ticking has come a long way from basic white. These days, it seems every mattress maker and retailer wants a mattress to “pop” on the showroom floor and from the pages of a website. Whether it’s with eye-catching color and contrasting borders or a plush, soft elegance, mattress fabrics are making a statement.

And it’s not just the look and feel. Many ticking suppliers are touting the health and wellness benefits of their products, as well as performance features such as cooling technologies.

Fashion forward

Today’s bed must be fashionable, say suppliers of mattress fabrics, who are looking both to apparel and home furnishings for inspiration.

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Montreal-based Maxime Knitting has focused on translating apparel into ticking, resulting in distinct, dramatic looks.

Four years ago, a bed on the floor was simply a bed, says Lorne Romoff, vice president of sales and marketing for Montreal-based Maxime Knitting. “Today, it’s a piece of furniture. Every bed on the floor is very distinct in its appearance,” he says. “In the past, everything was a sea of white. Today, it’s totally different. As a knitter, it makes it fun.”

With fashion top of mind, Maxime has been translating apparel looks for bedding. It’s an approach that’s been successful for the company in the past year, Romoff says.

Kristel Bisschop, a sales representative for Wielsbeke, Belgium-based Monks International, has seen a similar trend. Consumers are gravitating toward beds with designer looks, say a dark base and dark border paired with fresh-looking panels. “You want to match with the furniture in your house, to match with the floor,” Bisschop says. “You don’t want a white box in your bedroom. You want a really nice piece of furniture.”

Warm and bright

Color is key. While plenty of neutrals and soft tones abound, designers are keeping track of color trends throughout apparel, home décor and other categories, then translating those into ticking.

BekaertDeslee, a newly combined company headquartered in Waregem, Belgium, that operated two booths at ISPA EXPO 2016 March 9-12 in Orlando, Florida, showcased a bed dressed in a striking, contemporary ticking in a strong, Atlas blue at the Bekaert Textiles space. Design manager Anne Bushell noted the supplier chose Atlas blue just before color guru Pantone came out with its two Colors of the Year—Rose Quartz (a pale pink) and Serenity (a light blue).

“Those colors used to be really great for the bedding industry, but I feel now the colors are more saturated,” she says. “Atlas is a little bit more edgy, more contemporary.”

Rich colors also were on display across the show floor. Innofa introduced a ticking with intense colors—a first for the Eden, North Carolina-based company. New machinery has enabled the supplier to add finer gauge fabrics with refined details to its lineup, says Innofa designer Katie Bir.

High Point, North Carolina-based Culp Inc.’s current trend book is filled historical and global influences. “The idea is just what inspires you,” says Katie Webb, Culp trend and marketing designer. “A lot of what filters down in the mattress industry is tailored, and we get into the muted palettes for obvious reasons. You start from a bold place and it gets more exciting. That’s my philosophy.”

CT Nassau, a fabric supplier headquartered in Alamance, North Carolina, focuses on rich colors such as blacks and golds in its Luxe collection and uses pops of lime green in its Contemporary collection. Its stock sewn covers also include bright colors—think turquoise and orange.

Reidsville, North Carolina-based Global Textile Alliance keeps a close watch on color trends and sees many of the shades used across runways and in home furnishings warming, says Martha Williams, Global Textile Alliance creative director.

Global Textile Alliance trend board
Global Textile Alliance asked its designers to create eight themes showcasing what the Reidsville, North Carolina-based company can do. Mid-Century Mojo joined the likes of Trellis, Impact, Nordic Chic and more.

“This year, we’re finding that there are lots of colors we can work with,” Williams says. “Lots of times in the past, they’ve been too much for our industry,” she says. “Because they are so warm and muted—more approachable to our customers—we’re finding a lot of interest.”

Rose Fleming, a designer for New York-based Elfa, also notes that colors are warming, and designers are seeing a marriage of browns and silvers, which become bronze or stone. “So people can take their existing lines and marry them together,” she says.

A new way of doing things

New machinery is making more looks possible than ever before. At its Deslee booth at ISPA EXPO, BekaertDeslee showed off intricate designs, including lacelike patterns, made possible by new weaving technology. Named for Deslee’s founder, Maurice Deslee, the Maurice D. collection provides both color and stretch, says Ben Ducatteeuw, managing director of the company’s Innovation and Design Center.

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Intricate woven patterns, such as this lace-inspired fabric, are part of Waregem, Belgium-based BekaertDeslee’s new Maurice D. collection, named after Maurice Deslee, who founded Deslee in 1928.

“The concept is to bring the older jacquard weaving technology through a fresh jacket of innovation and design, like a piece of art,” he says. Deslee also offers the woven-inspired Finesse collection, a high-definition knit that’s soft and detailed.

According to company President Dennis St. Louis, Creative Ticking recently invested in new knitting machinery, allowing it to create “brush effect” designs utilizing multiple yarn colors without affecting the fabric’s contrasting background shade. Creative Ticking is a division of Beverly Knits Co., with headquarters in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Similarly, BekaertDeslee showcased striking “blister” knits using two colors in textural poufs that don’t show through the fabric’s neutral background.

You’ve got the look

Move over florals of yesteryear. Today’s, patterns are full of drama. Many mattress fabric suppliers are focusing on contemporary themes, in addition to more traditional designs. Other popular concepts include minimalist, architectural, menswear, sportswear and global.

Innofa’s Bir says contemporary looks continue to trend for the company. Panel medallions are still around, but are more geometric, she says.

Camilla Franklin, design director for BekaertDeslee, says the supplier is focusing on “the drama of the classics—the scale, the layout, the composition of the entire cover on the bed.”  In addition to its Contemporary collection, BekaertDeslee offers traditional looks with ornate motifs and warm, neutral colors, as well as a more feminine collection called Rose and Spade.

Lava Textiles mattress ticking
Lava, with world headquarters in Wielsbeke, Belgium, and U.S. headquarters in Waterloo, South Carolina, highlights texture and movement in its latest mattress fabrics.

Lava, with world headquarters in Wielsbeke, Belgium, and U.S. headquarters in Waterloo, South Carolina, is promoting fabrics from four trend areas—traditional, global, modern and minimal.

“All of the designs have a lot of movement in them,” says Ann Weaver, vice president of Lava USA. “It really doesn’t matter which category they fall in. If you look at these designs, you’ll see a lot of movement, a lot of texture in the background and a lot of different design elements in the background.”

Toronto-based Fine Cotton Factory is moving in a slightly different direction—animation. Three different collections subtly depict either large-scale images, such as a close-up of a gladiator leaning in to kiss a woman from the Sensual collection, or patterns that represent ideas, such as the bond between mother and child in the Fine Nursery collection.

Adam Lava, vice president and a company principal of Chicago-based A. Lava & Son Co., notes that fabrics are becoming more colorful and more intricate.

More than a soft touch

While some fabrics communicate comfort, others shout performance, looking to the athletic industry as an inspiration for their design and function.

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Athletic wear inspired the lime green mesh performance fabric in Creative Ticking’s Sport Support bed. The company is based in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Creative Ticking offers a host of products that showcase performance and technology. It recently created the Sport Support concept bed featuring spacer fabric that breathes and four-way stretch fabric that conforms to bedding foam. An Air Vent topper with air vents permeating the fabric allows heat to dissipate. The fabric also is treated with Cool Breeze, a phase-change technology. The fabric’s black, white and lime green accents are reminiscent of athletic wear.

“As the mattress industry gets more into health initiatives to provide a better night’s sleep, they want mattresses that breathe and they want mattresses that have performance characteristics,” St. Louis says.

“The new fabrics were inspired by work done by our parent company, Beverly Knits, which develops products with and for well-known national brands for performance and outdoor fabrics. We get the technology from them and cross-pollinate that technology into mattress fabrics we develop and design.”

Getting technical

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In addition to a line of fabrics based on animation, Toronto-based Fine Cotton Factory offers a patent-pending yarn made with copper.

Other fabric suppliers are using materials and finishes to provide psychological—and sometimes science-based—benefits to the sleeper. Some Fine Cotton Factory fabrics contain copper-infused yarn and phase-change components.

The patent-pending copper-infused yarn, CuTEC,  offers a number of benefits ranging from odor control to improved hygiene to overall skin wellness, says Skip Kann, Fine Cotton Factory director of special projects. Meanwhile, the phase-change cooling fabric, Cygnet, stays 4 degrees to 8 degrees cooler than ambient air, according to the company.

Boyteks Mattress Ticking, based in Kayseri, Turkey, includes several lines of products designed to solve health and other problems, says Gökmen Kara, Boyteks marketing manager. These include anti-microbial Aura Fresh and mineral-imbued Biorithmic, as well as other collections, such as MediCycle and Regeneration, that the company says “improve circulation” and cause “cell renewal.” For people who want to add a little spark to their love lives, there’s Romance, a fabric that includes herbs with aphrodisiac properties, such as cinnamon, ginger and ylang-ylang, Kara says.

Istanbul, Turkey-based Aydin Tekstil hopes to provide sleepers with sweet dreams by using fabric finishes that claim to reduce stress. “Our goal is to inspire people to sleep well,” says Berhan Kaya, Aydin Tekstil regional sales director. Some of the company’s fabrics feature Vitamin E, aromatherapy and anti-microbial finishes.

Duvalli SA, which is headquartered in Santa Maria de Feira, Portugal, has success with a line of fabrics incorporating finishes that the company says keep mosquitoes, mites and bacteria at bay.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h

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Sunds Textiles A/S, based in Sunds, Denmark, offers a thick 3-D meshlike knit, which provides breathability and elasticity.

Several ticking suppliers BedTimes spoke with note the importance of all-over stretch for today’s beds. The boxed mattress phenomenon, in particular, has made a wrinkle-free solution important to manufacturers.

Innofa has a stretchy new knit that looks just like damask, while BekaertDeslee offers a double-faced knit fabric, which looks like woven upholstery fabric. Ducatteeuw says that makes it ideal for some border and foundation fabric programs.

Sunds Textiles A/S, based in Sunds, Denmark, has created a super-thick 3-D meshlike knit, which provides breathability and elasticity. “This is a more expensive product, but everybody who deals with foam loves the stretch,” says Steffen Romer, Sunds vice president of sales. “The fabric needs to follow the foam.”

Even bed borders—traditionally the domain of stiff wovens or sturdy upholstery fabrics—are getting wrapped in stretchy knits. Elfa’s Fleming says the company’s knit borders featuring textural, geometric looks are popular and work especially well with latex and foam mattress constructions.

Still, there are plenty of woven border fabrics to be found. Elfa has taken the menswear look to another level by adding embroidering or flocking—a texture once commonly found on wallpapers—to textured patterns. “The texture is everything for us—texture and loft, dimension and a lot of interest in the fibers,” Fleming says.

Handmade looks for the mass market

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Fabrics made from heathered yarn, such as this ticking from Eden, North Carolina-based Innofa USA, bring a casual, comfortable touch to the mattress.

The idea of having furniture and accessories that appear to be handmade appeals to many consumers, says Martha Williams, creative director of Global Textile Alliance, which has headquarters in Reidsville, North Carolina. If something looks handcrafted, even if it is mass produced, it’s seen as more authentic and more valuable, she says.

Using heathered yarns is one way suppliers are creating a handmade feel. These yarns add a casual, comfortable touch to the mattress. Waregem, Belgium-based BekaertDeslee uses a blend of blue, gray and white heathered yarns to create homespun appeal in both knit and woven ticking. Innofa, headquartered in Eden, North Carolina, also offers fabrics with heathered yarns.

At New York-based Elfa, charcoal bamboo rayon yarns in knits satisfy the desire for comfortable materials. “They kind of have that soft, heathered comfy look—like you want to curl up on it,” says Rose Fleming, an Elfa designer. 

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