Ikat 101: Everything to Know About Its History, Production, and Use Today

The versatile patterns created by the ikat weaving technique lend themselves to a range of interior settings today. “​​The special yarn-binding technique used to make ikat fabrics results in blurred, feathered edges of shapes and patterns.… This blurred or watery edge creates soft, ephemeral designs that blend harmoniously with other textiles in a room,” says Doriss. “The pattern and design possibilities of these textiles are endless. From simple geometrics and stripes to more complex, multicolored designs, ranging from florals to damasks to abstract geometrics, the varied nature of these textiles make them applicable for any end use.” As one example, she points out the dramatic impact of pairing a vibrant, multicolored ikat curtain with dynamic stripes and textural upholstery.

Doriss adds that while authentic ikat employs the hand-dyed, handwoven technique, modern textile production can replicate the effect using screen, roller, or digital printing; the jacquard loom; or a technique known as warp printing, in which the warp (vertical yarns) on the loom are printed, instead of resist-dyed, before weaving.

Interior designer Amy Andrews sees ikat fabrics blending in seamlessly with a modern or traditional aesthetic. “Used as an accent or a statement in a home, an ikat fabric mixes well with texture and patterns to create a layered look,” she notes. “I love incorporating ikats in my designs to bring a special curated feel to a room. The pop of patterns and colors in an ikat textile add a timeless touch.”

New York–based interior designer Tina Ramchandani agrees, saying, “To me, ikat is a whimsical, fun pattern, typically in a variety of colors. We don’t use it often, but when we do it’s to add whimsy to a space.”

Obvious applications for ikat patterns are in pillows, upholstery, and window treatments, but these colorful designs work equally as well in lampshades, table linens, or even wall coverings.

“Ikat lends itself to relaxed residential styles, but the look of its soft, blurred edges also translates into a refined and stylish wall covering for commercial environments,” explains Marybeth Shaw, chief creative officer, design and marketing at wall covering manufacturer Wolf-Gordon. “Wolf-Gordon’s pattern, Purr by Dorothy Coronas, part of our Clair PVC-free wall covering collection, features leopard spots elegantly adapted into a subtle ikat overlay with textile embossing.”

Price stresses, “When an ikat is the star element in a scheme, it can [feel] high-impact through its brilliant bold color combined with a large-scale design. Or ikats can be used as punctuations in a scheme when you consider them as works of art. I love them as lampshades!”

Catherine Ebert, owner of her DC-based design studio, agrees that ikat can be a wonderful way to introduce color and pattern aside from more traditional motifs. She says, “Ikat designs have intricate patterns often with figures and stories which lend a global, collected aesthetic to any space.” However, she cautions, “because it’s a lot of pattern, you need to think about the scale for your application.” She points out that pillows and drapery can support large-scale, lively patterns, for instance.

Likewise, Andrews mentions, “Ikat fabrics mix in well for an elevated curated feel; however, I do hold back from mixing with too many other bold patterns that may clash.” However, Fabricut design director Millie Hammond thinks that working ikat into interior design schemes can “add depth and vibrancy without overpowering a space.”

Hammond favors ikat because she says it’s “a testament to craftsmanship…. Always handmade and always slightly different from yard to yard, ikat is for that customer that wants a home rich in tradition and artistry.”

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