Chella Luxury Performance Textiles are excellent for outdoor and indoor use alike. Medallion fabric, created by Scott Bodenner in collaboration with Kathryn Rathke, is featured in both settings. The interior also features Finishing Trim, which was created in collaboration with KleinReid.
Outside Looks That Are Really "In"
Chella’s Scott Bodenner Brings an Interior Aesthetic to the Great Outdoors
by Diane Capuano Franklin
Throw out every preconceived notion that you may have about outdoor fabric. Chella's Luxury Performance Textiles (http://www.chellatextiles.com) defy those notions with a new direction for outdoor fabric that is fresh, innovative and exciting.
Though Chella’s diverse and innovative fabric collections are perfect for outdoor use, they look just as amazing on a living room sofa as they do on a patio divan.
Much of the credit for this incredible versatility goes to Scott Bodenner, the ultra-talented designer behind many of Chella’s award-winning selections. Chella founder Lee Menichella, who launched the company in 1999, turned to Bodenner to develop looks that allowed the company to establish a fabric offering that goes far beyond the limited selection of colors, designs and canvas-like materials that had otherwise dominated the outdoor market.
Menichella had a vision to bring luxury to the market, and with Bodenner’s contributions, Chella soon became a force to be reckoned with. The company developed a reputation for bringing numerous innovations—such as the first sustainable shine yarn embroidered on a dissolvable ground cloth and the first outdoor chenille—to a market that was craving reinvention.
Outdoor that Doesn’t Look Like Outdoor
Already an experienced designer in the world of interior fabrics, Bodenner has used his talents to help Menichella reach his goal of creating luxury outdoor fabrics that combine design genius with superior technical construction. This combination makes Chella fabrics well-suited for outdoor and indoor markets alike.
“One thing that I’ve been able to bring to the outdoor market and to Chella is an interior aesthetic,” says Bodenner, who works out of his eponymous studio in Brooklyn, N.Y. However, he also travels frequently to Chella’s Santa Barbara, Calif., headquarters.
It’s been more than a dozen years since Bodenner first started doing design work for Chella. “When I started working with Chella, stuff for outdoor really looked like stuff for outdoor—you know, bright stripes, lots of tough colors,” he explains. “But our thought was that we could create outdoor fabrics that could be used indoors as well.”
The buying public has been receptive to this concept, as evidenced by that fact that Chella’s sales are split between outdoor and indoor use. The indoor demand for Chella fabrics is especially pronounced in sunny climes such as Florida and California, where homes with large windows make indoor furniture susceptible to harmful UV rays.
“If you’re in a place that has a lot of sun, even normal windows can cause sun fading on upholstery,” Bodenner concedes. Not so with Chella’s outdoor fabrics, however, which were built to withstand harmful UV rays.
But Chella fabrics are also ideal in markets that are not known for their sun—places like Door County, Wis., where Bodenner grew up, and New York City, where Bodenner lives now. He cites the example of a dear friend, who upholstered her interior sofa with a Chella outdoor fabric more than a decade ago. Since then, his friend has had two daughters, and the fabric has withstood the demands of family life just fine.
“The fabric is like a tailored slipcover that she can remove. She washes it every once in a while, and it still looks fantastic, and that’s with two little girls being little girls on a sofa,” Bodenner explains. “That’s a benefit from Chella. The performance really delivers.”
Chella’s performance is what makes the fabric ideal for outdoor use. Whether the fabric is used on the patio of a private residence or the pool and spa area of a major hotel, it will easily withstand the rigors of sun, rain and fluctuating temperatures.
“My challenge when creating a fabric for Chella is that it has to look elegant, but it also has to able to withstand everything the great outdoors can throw at it,” Bodenner says.
The elegance comes from Bodenner’s ability to create sophisticated modern designs that also display an appreciation for techniques and craftsmanship from the past. A perfect example is Framework, which won a 2012 award from Interior Design magazine and is the first sustainable shine yarn on a dissolvable ground cloth that we mentioned earlier. The shiny yarn is a radical departure for outdoor work, while the dissolved embroidery gives the fabric a distinct open look. The design itself consists of a grid pattern connected by X’s.
“It functions as a shiny sort of sheer large-scale mesh,” Bodenner explains. “It uses a very antiquated technique that I think looks super-modern.”
Yet another amazing piece of work came from Bodenner’s collaboration with KleinReid. The firm’s two talented ceramicists, James Klein and David Reid, provided the forms for unique mahogany trimmings that include tassels and tiebacks.
“They designed these tassels, which were then hand-turned out of scrap mahogany by Nicaraguan Quakers,” Bodenner told YDR. Yes, you read that right—Nicaraguan Quakers. “Madness, right?” Bodenner says.
And after Nicaraguan Quakers did their thing, the finished trim was assembled in Texas. “Because it’s mahogany, it works great in the outdoor market. It can be doused with chlorine water, dry, get wet, dry, get wet—and it’s no problem,” Bodenner reports.
In another collaborative effort, Bodenner worked with illustrator Kathryn Rathke to create a beautiful Chella fabric known as Medallion. “Kathryn is a genius illustrator whose sensitive portraiture shows up everywhere,” Bodenner says. Her ultra-modern Medallion design looks great in colorways ranging from Cobalt and Peacock blues to more subtle Alabaster and Sand Dune.
Diverse Background = Distiller of Culture
A diverse, culturally rich background has allowed Bodenner to develop his unique design aesthetic. Born in Hawaii and raised in the Midwest, Bodenner headed eastward for his higher-level education. He studied textile design with a specialty in weaving at the Rhode Island School of Design. After finishing his studies, he worked briefly for Jack Larsen and then spent five years working for a prestigious mill in Germany. Back in the States, he opened the Scott Bodenner Studio, developing an impressive list of clients. He did work for two Swiss mills, which honed his skills in working in the printed medium as well as jacquards.
“Hopefully, I bring all of that experience into my work,” Bodenner says. “I think a designer’s job is try to be a distiller of culture—to try to bring things together and make them into something that is new and appealing.”
Bodenner is always receptive to a dose of inspiration, whether it comes from walking the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood, looking through his collection of antique fabrics, or wandering the exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
“You never know where inspiration is going to come from,” Bodenner concedes, “so you always have to be ready for it and always looking.”