The New York based designer Sandy Chilewich is founder and creative director of Chilewich | Sultan LLC, a company managed with her partner and husband Joe Sultan. For the last three decades and with two distinct businesses, Chilewich has reinterpreted underutilized and overlooked manufacturing practices. During the last 12 years Chilewich has designed innovative textiles for numerous applications. Best known for her placemats and floormats, her materials can now be seen on iPhone cases, bags and other products marked by ingenuity and elegance.
Prior to launching her namesake design studio, Chilewich, in 1997, Chilewich was a primary force at HUE, the hosiery company she cofounded with Kathy Moskal in 1978. HUE was credited with revolutionizing the legwear market with its innovations in design, packaging and merchandising. The company was sold in 1991, and Sandy stayed on as co-president until 1994. The brand continues to thrive today.
In the first years after HUE, Chilewich continued to explore her fascination with materials and textiles. She introduced the highly successful RayBowl™, her studio’s first effort, in 1997. The design, which features a metal frame covered with stretch netting typically used in lingerie, incorporates a simple, inventive mechanism to hold the fabric in a concave plane. The Raybowl, Raytray and Rayboxes were awarded utility patents and numerous awards.
In a quest for other suitable fabrics to incorporate into the RayBowl, she stumbled upon woven vinyl and fell in love with what she believed was a completely underutilized textile. It didn’t work for the bowls. However, where others saw just one material among many, Chilewich saw an opportunity for a new business. “The durability of this extruded yarn, the intrinsic sheen of the material, its tremendous design versatility, and the fact that it is washable inspired me then and continues to inspire me today," says Chilewich.
Hence the launch, in 2000, of Chilewich’s distinctive product line of vinyl placemats and floormats, which can be seen in homes and better restaurants around the world. “I am continually exploring for new materials that combine beauty and functionality,” adds Chilewich.
In 2001 Chilewich, together with her architect husband, Joe Sultan, launched their first product for Contract use. Joe developed commercial grade backings for these woven textiles and they were able to introduce Plynyl® wall-to-wall (w2w) floor tiles. Today the contract division includes backed and un-backed woven vinyl fabrics for use on walls, panels, windows and upholstery. This award winning collection is available through the trade.
Joe Sultan sold his architecture practice in 2004 and joined the company fulltime as CEO. The two have changed the firm’s corporate name to Chilewich l Sultan LLC to reflect their emergent business partnership.
Made almost exclusively in the U.S., Chilewich now finishes 95% of their products in their own manufacturing facility in Georgia. All of the award-winning products from Chilewich | Sultan LLC are sold throughout the world.