More than Fabric: Problem Solving through Design

More than Fabric: Problem Solving through Design

With the changes the U.S.-based textiles industry has seen over the past century, Milliken knew our ability to thrive as a global innovations company depended on our ability to innovate practically on behalf of the markets and customers we served. Our innovations resonate within our industries because they are able to help solve everyday challenges. Many of Milliken’s leading innovations were developed as a way to solve a problem — using design as a key mechanism for an achievable outcome.

The Specialty Interiors business of Milliken’s Performance and Protective Textiles division is a prime example, as they are uniquely positioned to use design to bring sustainable solutions to interior environments. Designers, engineers and researchers come together to tackle a problem from multiple angles to maintain the business’ quality, color and delivery. We examine two examples of how sensible design helped to answer the call of their industries’ challenges.

Using design to challenge material framework

Sustainability, especially in the past decade, has quickly become a major consideration for consumer products and services. Milliken Specialty Interiors recognized the need to address this value point and developed a collaboration with Unifi to use their REPREVE®fiber in many of the business’ products. Made with recycled plastic bottles, REPREVE fibers enhance the sustainability of Milliken textiles by offering a relevant and universally understood way to add eco-friendly attributes that help divert plastic waste from landfills.

Milliken fabrics featuring REPREVE fiber are verified by Unifi’s U Trust®certification, which provides the number of plastic water bottles diverted from landfill for each yard of fabric. Part of the Breathe by Milliken collection, our Textured fabric, seen above, diverts 10 plastic bottles from landfill per yard of fabric. On average, Milliken fabrics featuring REPREVE fiber divert six to ten bottles from landfill. By analyzing the design of our products and making an intentional sourcing decision, Milliken Specialty Interiors answers consumers’ calls for greater sustainable impact without impacting performance.

Using design to answer a market need

Building off the market’s desire for sustainable and healthy lifestyle products, Milliken Specialty Interiors pulled together a cross-collaborative team of chemists, textile engineers, designers and customer-facing associates to create Breathe by Milliken. Designed as the answer to the demand for eco-friendly, performance-driven fabrics that customers could feel good about using in their homes, Breathe by Milliken fabrics, available through furniture manufacturers and retailers, are an eco-elegant solution — offering the durability needed within the modern home with minimal chemistry to achieve performance benefits.

Because design is a natural part of our innovation process, we are able to meet both market and customer needs through helpful, practical and sustainable solutions that have a positive impact on the world. Discover more about how we achieve this across the many industries we serve in our first annual global sustainability report.