The silk fiber is among the luxurious fabrics such as cashmere, mohair, and others. It is a natural fiber that comes from silkworms which feed exclusively on mulberry leaves to produce the fiber. This paper will look at the historical background of silk and its uses in interior design.
Silk is believed to have originated from china around 2640 BC. A legend explains that it was discovered by a Chinese princess when a cocoon fell into her tea. The cocoon dissolved in the tea and when she tried to pull it out she pulled a continuous thread. This is how the technique of reeling the fiber was invented in a country that was already advanced in weaving technology. The Chinese guarded the secret about silk production or sericulture and those who dared to reveal it were killed. However, the secret later leaked out to the rest of the world, and today many countries produce it (Franck 2007:2).
There are various types of silkworms and each produces a different quality of silk. The species Bombyx mori produces high-quality silk and it is a species that is exclusively found in china thus making it a dominant producer of silk. The silkworms are fed on mulberry leaves to produce the silk. After the silk has been extracted from the worms they die shortly. The Chinese have maintained their dominance by domesticating this worm which has ceased to fly and is also sightless (Silk History, 2000).
The production of silk has increased greatly and many people in the world use products made from silk. The high demand is fueled by the nature of this fiber. The fiber is elastic with strong fibers which have a beautiful sheen. Therefore it is used to make fine clothes. For example, in China, it is used to make wedding dresses because it is regarded very highly in Chinese culture (Wells, 2009).
The silk fiber is very versatile and therefore it is used in interior design. It can be used to make a variety of things. For example curtains, carpets, table cloths, bedcovers, bed sheets, wall coverings blinds, lampshades, and bed heads among many other uses. Designers and architects use silk in interior design because the fabric is very soft and does not crease easily. It also has a very beautiful shine. The qualities of silk have made it a material of choice for interior decors by many designers and architects. Jackson Lenor Larsen is an American designer who utilizes silk. He made designs for Thai Silk Company for use in furnishing fabrics. Other designers include Nina Campbell and Ellen Brook.
The material is also very comfortable to wear in both cool and warm weather. This has made it a fabric of choice by many designers for making evening gowns. The fiber drapes very well over the body and many women wear blouses made from this fabric, men are also increasingly taking into silk shirts as they are very comfortable. Other items made from this luxurious fabric are bedsheets which are very smooth to lie on as well as sleeping pajamas for both men and women due to their soft feel and warmth. Scarves are also, made from this fiber. It is also important to note that things made from silk are expensive and wearing the material portrays elegance as well as extravagance (Wells, 2009).
The silk fiber is available in many colors and is therefore suitable for many decorating purposes. The most important factor about silk is that it is a naturally sustainable fiber because it is renewable. Other designers prefer it because it is a natural fiber and hence more eco-friendly. However, the silkworms have to consume tones of mulberry leaves to produce adequate silk, so is it?
History of silk (2000).
Franck, R (2001). Silk, mohair, cashmere and other luxury fibers, Cambridge: Wood Head publishing.
Wells, J. (2009). Uses of Silk – From Silk Clothes to Silk Sheets.