Using fabrics outdoors

Whilst understandably most businesses focus on the more obvious structural elements of design when embarking on an aesthetic overhaul, other materials can be left out. But the overall impression a shop front or commercial exterior gives is down to more than just bricks and mortar. Fabrics can greatly enhance the impression an exterior design creates – and in this post we explore how they can be used in harmony with other elements to significantly improve the overall look and feel of your business.

Can I use fabrics outdoors?

In years gone by fabrics formed an important part of the outside appearance of shops and commercial premises. For years awnings, signage, canopies and other large components have been crafted from various fabric materials, including linen, canvas and tarpaulin. Traditionally fabrics would wear and tear much more quickly than their metal, stone and wood counterparts – but now innovative coatings and hybrid materials make the fabrics used in exterior installations resilient and longwearing. Polyester and Polyacrylic hybrids are soft to touch yet incredibly weather- proof, whilst hardy waxed fabric comes in many colours, patterns and designs. Some fibres can be incredibly tough – for example durable sackcloth and coated linen, which can hold heavy weights and don’t buckle or disintegrate on exposure to water or dirt.

What are the advantages of using fabrics for a shop front or commercial exterior design?

Although previously flimsy fabric would be seen as a less desirable option, it can actually be cost-effective and visually appealing. Fabric also allows you to achieve a certain look – for vintage retailers, antiques shops and companies who want to present a unique image to the outside world it’s a fantastically quirky option. Contemporary firms can also greatly benefit from the addition of fabric to soften and add another texture to complement glass, metal and wood surfaces. Fabric is also eco-friendly – especially those incorporating natural fibres like hemp and other sustainable, responsibly sourced materials.

How can I incorporate fabrics?

Small and large elements alike can be created from fabrics – from the obvious (signage, awnings and coverings and umbrellas) to the not so obvious (single lettering, decorative wall hangings, floor coverings). For hospitality establishments outdoor fabrics can prove indispensible as they can be used to upholster outdoor furniture such as sofas, beds and chairs. As always it’s best to consult with your expert design team if you have specific ideas in mind, as they will let you know how best to proceed and which options are viable based on the type of property you’re in and your objectives.

For further guidance and advice regarding your upcoming exterior installation or curtain wall contact us or take a look at our leading Services.