Monday, 8 August 2016

plush and pile or the worshipful company of upholders

BBC Autos magazine examines that often observed but seldom questioned universal truth of the otherwise invisible upholstery that constitutes the patterns and fabric that adorn the seats of buses, trains, trams and planes through the lens of a textile epicure from Germany (which has particularly hideous and garish designs for their fleet of public buses) who ventured forth on a series of railway journeys camouflaged in clothes tailored from the same stylish fabrics that covered her carriage: why so ugly?
What asking the question prompted was pretty fascinating. Though fashion is prone to date itself, bus seats rarely show their age and worn out upholstery, sturdy and made out of a wool called moquette, is seldom the cause for refurbishment as they can last for decades, despite constant use, abuse and rough cleaning. The patterns are designed to disrupt the gaze of the passenger, as well, drawing attention away from neglected stains. Further, because of the enormous amount of fabric generated at a go, it’s likely a passenger will encounter multiple times, anywhere in the world. It’s a bit like the laser backdrop for picture day in grade school, and realising it was not unique to one’s class. Even for newly outfitted means of mass-transport, there’s the matter of upholding tradition, that being the antique term of course for the guild of upholsters.