Presence felt


UAE: Boston-based designers Kelly Smith and Traci Roloff established FilzFelt in 2008, allowing the partners to apply their passion for the German-milled textile to create FilzFelt’s product line of floor coverings, hanging panels, drapery and by-the-yard textiles.

As new products typically rely on modern technology, FilzFelt looks to tradition. Although an old man-made textile, wool felt is ideal for demanding commercial and residential design applications.

Wool’s tradition as a super fibre boasts manifold attributes, including inherent elasticity, water, soil and flame resistance, as well as thermal and acoustical insulation. Wool has excellent dye capabilities for highly saturated, lightfast hues. Entirely natural, renewable and biodegradable, wool felt qualifies for LEED certification as a rapidly renewable material.


Pantone Matching System colours range from heathered greys to punchy mango and deep aubergine. Thicknesses vary between 2mm to 10mm, depending on the application. FilzFelt’s thickness and density offers structural integrity in hanging installations without the need for more support.

While FilzFelt’s fabric is milled and dyed in Germany, the finishing processes of CNC cutting, stitching and fabrication is completed in its American workrooms.

Smith said: “We pride ourselves on working with true craftspeople. We regularly visit each manufacturing location and make a point to know the people who produce FilzFelt products.” The company is also proudly represented by Knoll and Spinneybeck.

Whereas FilzFelt’s material inspiration looks to the past, its design translation is decidedly modern: bold, geometric shapes cut from the fabric using CNC machinery and create a repetitious play of positive and negative space in hanging panels, drapery and floor covering.

Aside from its standard lines, FilzFelt’s custom design capabilities are vast. A bespoke wall panel installation created for architect Michael Hsu’s University Park project in Austin, Texas features a view of the city skyline. With the intent to have a handcrafted aesthetic, the FilzFelt workroom added a touch of decorative hand stitching to outline particular buildings.

FilzFelt recently collaborated with renowned product designer Ayse Birsel, launching the Ayse Birsel Collection in June at NeoCon 2013. Smith described it as “a modern and playful manipulation of mass, porosity, and scale which translates well to products for both contract and residential markets.”

Known for her unique design methodology, Birsel developed graphic designs based on circles and rectangles to create intricate patterns rendered in the physical form of each object.

Smith added: “We love that she respected FilzFelt as a brand and as a material…The designs fit into the existing FilzFelt product line, while experimenting with pattern and scale and maintaining humour and whimsy, which is what we’re all about.”

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