Jacquard Defined

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Embroidered and jacquard textiles and decorative accents showcasing embossed designs or unique patinas are one answer. We’re taking a look at this distinctive weaving technique – its history and the decorative benefits of introducing it into your home.

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Aztec Jacquard Cushion from DG37, available online at Zanui.

Textiles add allure and textured nuances, creating a sophisticated style of ornamentation. From feminine florals to ornate + decadent damasks, jacquard designs are effective in bold hues or softer neutrals.

The man and the history

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A jacquard loom (left) and showing the punch cards feeding into it (right), sourced people.duke.edu.

The term jacquard refers to a mechanism that regulates the weaving on a loom. Joseph Marie Jacquard invented this mechanism circa 1801. At the time it revolutionised pattern weaving, allowing for infinite variety in design.

Nice one, Joseph! 😉

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Ingrid Bath Mat from KAS, available online at Zanui.

Prior to this, weaving elaborate designs was a labour-intensive and manual process. In addition to the weaver who would operate the loom, a draw boy would be required to handpick and feed in the warp ends of the yarn.

And time means money!

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Stamping the punch cards (left) and the punch cards up close (right), sourced Wikipedia and people.duke.edu.

Noting the repetitive nature of this art, Joseph Marie Jacquard set about combining the skillful systems of his contemporaries to create a more effective process. Jacquard utilised a series of punch cards to determine the selection of warp-ends.

This was done on a small scale and then repeated across the width of the loom.

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Salia Knit Cushion from DG37, available online at Zanui.

His thought process with its reliance on programmable sequences has led some to regale his work as an important precursor to modern computing!

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Rapee cushions: Missy Cushion, Nation Cushion, Monsoon Cushion and Paloma Cushion, available online at Zanui.

Why jacquard?

Greater precision of pattern and outline, as well as its timesaving properties, proved profitable advantages of this type of weaving. From mechanical models, these looms progressed to electronic as late as the 1980s.

Despite this evolution, the looms are still more costly to maintain and require a higher level of expertise. This is often reflected in the price point.

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Namibia Cushion from Rapee, available in black, grey, mustard and red online at Zanui.

Today the jacquard technique is commonly used across knitted patterns, brocades, damasks and the like. These intricate designs look gorgeous on throw pillows and cushions, and prevent your sofa from looking too… flat!

Add a little liveliness to your aesthetic. We adore these gorgeous examples – all available online at Zanui!

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Rapee cushions: Sahara Cushion and Punch Cushion, available online at Zanui.

Soft and sedated or bold and beautiful… Which ones do you like? 🙂

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.