Why Bouclé is Back in Home Furnishings
Bouclé is one of those fabrics that flows easily between fashion and home use. For example, the work of both fashion designer legend Coco Chanel and architectural genius Eero Saarinen are testimony to its many attributes. The latter used it in his famous Womb Chair while the former made her famous jackets from tweed boucle in their respective mid-century designs This cozy weave has found a new audience of today’s trendsetters because of its sense of comfort and warmth. Here, Nest Casa explores this iconic textile.
What Is Bouclé?
“Bouclé” is derived from the French word boucler, which means “to buckle or curl.” It is both a curled, multi-ply yarn and a textured fabric. While primarily associated with wool, the curly-knotted appearance, thanks in part to the multiple open loops, also lends itself to other fancy fibers such as mohair and alpaca. It can also be created from other fibers, including cotton, linen, silk, rayon and Lurex. Bouclé can be enhanced with decorative elements like ribbon and sequins, which are woven into the textile—like tweed bouclé, for example.
Bouclé in Fashion and Homes
The fabric made its first significant appearance in home goods in 1948, when Finnish-born American Architect Eero Saarine introduced his famous Womb Chair—a commission from his close friend, Florence Knoll, the American architect, interior designer and furniture designer of Knoll fam, who requested a chair that one could curl up in comfortably. He took this literally: the first Womb Chair designs were covered in the curled fabric. Soon, bouclé was everywhere in upholstery.
It became popular in French fashion when Coco Chanel first included it in one of her collections in 1954 but was also suitable for everything from sweaters, especially cardigan styles, handbags, and shoes. Small accessories such as jewelry, wallets, and headpieces are also commonly made from bouclé.
The Pros and Cons of Bouclé
Because of its texture, bouclé creates depth and interest without the fuss of a pattern—which is why it appealed to the mid-century design movement. And had gained in popularity due to its use in fashion as well.
It is also durable and stain-resistant (even in lighter shades). It can also be comfortable to snuggle into, like with the original Womb Chair. Generally, when used in upholstery design, this textile can be treated to be stain-resistant as well.
However, despite the yarn’s supple nature, upholstered bouclé can be stiff and scratchy on bare skin. This is especially true when made of wool. (Blends of silk and cotton usually address this issue.) It can also be hard to clean, but steam usually does the trick.
How to Style Interiors with Boucle
In the home, bouclé is mostly used for upholstery. Like in the Womb Chair, bouclé contributes to the soft aesthetic of curved-edge seating. Additionally, bouclé is thick and sumptuous enough to be used in window treatments, especially when blocking light is desired
The more delicate blends (like silk, alpaca, and mohair) make great throw blankets or pillows, further softening beds and couches and making them even more irresistible for lounging.