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Get to know the husband and wife team behind the Chilewich brand.
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. Since 2000, Chilewich has designed innovative textiles for numerous applications.
Sandy launched placemats and floor mats with her original signature textiles in 2000. Her designs have transformed the way tables are dressed in homes and in restaurants around the world. Her floor mats provide a clean modern alternative underfoot.
If you had asked Joe Sultan when he was a practicing architect with his own firm in New York City, what he would be doing today, he would never have said he would be the CEO of Chilewich | Sultan LLC, a textile design company best known for contemporary place settings and modern flooring.
Though Joe didn't realize it then, his fate lay with the textile industry. His father and uncles owned and operated a company based in NYC, selling tablecloths and placemats. He worked for them after school and during vacations from the time he was a child through his teens.
Discover milestones from Sandy Chilewich and Chilewich Sultan LLC'S history.
Sandy co-founds HUE legwear with Kathy Moskal. HUE is credited with revitalizing a commodity-driven industry with their innovations in color, knitting design, merchandising and packaging. After thirteen successful years at the helm of HUE, Sandy and Kathy decide to sell the brand in 1991. Sandy and Kathy stay on as co-presidents until 1994. HUE continues to be a thriving hosiery design brand today.
After HUE, Sandy continues to explore her fascination with materials and textiles. In 1997, she introduces the highly successful RayBowl™. The containers feature a metal frame covered with stretch netting typically used in lingerie and incorporate a simple, inventive mechanism to hold the fabric in a concave plane. The design was awarded utility patents and numerous awards. MoMA Design Store launches their e-commerce website with Sandy's RayBowls™ during the same year.
In a quest to find other suitable fabrics to incorporate into the RayBowl™, Sandy stumbled upon woven extruded yarns 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, Sandy saw an opportunity for a new business. In 2000, Sandy introduces her first home products to the market, including placemats, floormats and totes.
In 2001, the Chilewich Contract Division launches as a commercial flooring company with the introduction of woven textiles for Wall-to-Wall (W2W) and Tile Flooring. Joe Sultan, Sandy Chilewich's architect husband, spearheaded the development of backings suitable for commercial use with the existing Chilewich woven textiles collection. Plynyl® W2W and tile flooring, with their soft and resilient polyurethane cushion and richly woven textures and colors, were recognized as truly innovative flooring products when they were first introduced. At the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) Chilewich's new flooring designs won the Editor’s Award in the Carpeting and Flooring Category.
Craft, Tom Colicchio's world renowned establishment, is the very first restaurant to use Chilewich textiles on their tables in 2002. Sandy Chilewich is credited with having the vision to replace traditional linen tablecloths with her original woven textiles. Around the world Chilewich is chosen by better hotels and restaurants for their dining spaces, and the Chilewich Hospitality Division is consequently launched.
Joe Sultan officially joins Chilewich, having worked extensively on the development of the Contract Division's products. Shortly thereafter, the name of the company changes to "Chilewich Sultan LLC" to reflect the addition of Joe Sultan as a partner and CEO.
Chilewich celebrates its ten year association with the internationally renowned Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Design Store. To honor the collaboration, which began with Sandy Chilewich's now iconic RayBowl®, an event was held at the store in the heart of SoHo, NYC. Sandy said of the collaboration: "The RayBowl® was my initial foray into the home accessories sector and MoMA stores were the first to bring it to market. Their support has been particularly instrumental over the last ten years." Both MoMA SoHo and 53rd Street had a historic view of Chilewich weaves in their windows for four weeks in honor of the celebration.
Chilewich enters into its first licensing arrangement with The Shade Store. Chilewich + The Shade Store came together to produce an exclusive collection of custom Roller Shades, Vertical and Panel Systems that add a stylish, sophisticated accent to any interior.
Griffin + Chilewich partner on a collection of accessories for iPhones. A durable and impact-resistant Griffin-engineered polycarbonate shell provides the foundation for the Elan Form Chilewich for iPhone 3GS. Chilewich's Mini Basketweave is wrapped around the shell, resulting in a case that is both rugged and beautiful.
Chilewich collaborates with the creative firm, freecell, for Interior Design Magazine's Hall of Fame event. Held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the evening brings together leading tastemakers from the international architecture and design community. Chilewich textile was incorporated into the table centerpieces throughout the ballroom.
Sandy Chilewich is personally invited to design tables for a private dinner party at the acclaimed Philip Johnson Glass House in honor of their highest donors. Chefs Michel Richard and Brian Lewis provided the cuisine for the event. Sandy layers Mini Basketweave and Lattice designs with linen napkins and napkin rings to create an original table setting for the occasion.
CHANEL'S dress Spring Summer RTW 2011 collection reproducing Chilewich's Cubic Design.
Chilewich's Contract Division launches BioFelt®, a PVC-free tile backing system. The backing is made from recycled water bottles, renewable vegetable compounds, as well as post-industrial materials. The total recycled content of the tile (including TerraStrand™ and the BioFelt® backing) exceeds 55% and can contribute to achieving certifications in environmental stewardship programs worldwide. Chilewich CEO, Joe Sultan, says, "BioFelt® is the most exciting tile backing system we've ever developed. The tile has a wonderful cushioned feel to it, it's much lighter than vinyl, it’s tough and durable and can be installed with VELCRO® Brand Hook Squares – it's a truly exciting development."
Chilewich is chosen as the exclusive flooring and tabletop partner for the "Oakley Safehouse," a unique environment for athletes to escape and relax during the Olympic Games. Housed at the acclaimed Design Museum in London the two-floor space welcomed over 600 athletes and 200 VIP guests. This was the first commercial installation of Chilewich Contract's BioFelt® tile flooring system and Durdam Rocherolle, Oakley Olympic Consultant said, "We were blown away by how easy it was to install… I’ve never seen a cleaner look in an installed floor." In addition, Oakley also chose eight custom size rugs for the lounge area and over 350 tabletop designs for the restaurant area.
Chilewich makes a significant environmental development by replacing the petroleum-based plasticizers in yarns with phthalate-free, renewable vegetable compounds. Plasticizers have traditionally been made from petroleum-based compounds that are used to make PVC yarns soft. No more. These innovative new yarns and the fabrics made from them are called TerraStrand™. Every square yard of TerraStrand™ saves .02 gallons of petroleum and .41 pounds of CO2 as compared to conventional woven vinyls. 90% of all Chilewich woven textiles will be phthalate-free by 2015.
Chilewich collaborates with VSA Partners to re-design their website, incorporating all five divisions in a seamless and user-friendly platform. Sandy Chilewich describes the re-launch: "VSA Partners brought a wave of fresh air into everything that we had been doing and this could not have happened without their deep understanding and respect for who we had been. Nothing about this process was superficial and rushed." Dean Di Simone of VSA Partners elaborates: "With Sandy Chilewich at the helm, VSA Partners was presented with a collaborative context that allowed us to do our best work."
Chilewich opens the doors of its first retail store in the Flatiron District in New York City. The 820 square foot store was designed by De-Spec and features a modular 'kit-of-parts' system allowing a myriad of shapes, sizes and styles to be displayed and interchanged effortlessly. Sandy Chilewich elaborates, "We have wonderful partners around the world, but have always been a guest in someone else's retail environment to some extent. With our own store, we get to speak with our own voice for the first time." The new retail store offers the most comprehensive collection of Chilewich tabletop and flooring designs under one roof.
The Cube Collection marks an exciting return into the furniture design category for Chilewich, offering a unique, multi-purpose piece that features the brand’s trademark qualities of groundbreaking design, expert craft, and innovation in functionality. Completely proportional from every angle, each cube features a smart geometric profile, making it ideal for any type of space. Upholstered in signature Chilewich TerraStrand® textiles, Cube is at the forefront of stylish durability.
Chilewich, known for its tabletop and flooring textiles, expands on the acclaim received from the first wholesale release of bags and totes in 2000. This initial run featured an unprecedented combination of intimate fashion knowledge and innovative material, and was met with much success. A rare match of impeccable form and function, there has been a constant call for their return since the line was discontinued. Now, Chilewich expands upon the initial collection with new editions featuring remarkable variety in size and style.
Get candid with Sandy and Joe as they describe the brand's early days. Click below to view the video.