As custom window and fabric experts, we love learning about age-old design conventions that have stood the test of time, in addition to the newest home styles. We are particularly excited about this traditional textile: a fabric made from “washi.”
What is Washi, you ask?
Washi is a traditional Japanese paper. The word is derived from “wa” meaning “Japanese” and “shi” meaning paper. This term is used to describe paper that is produced by hand and made in the traditional Japanese manner with local fibers. This specialty paper has been made for thousands of years, and is now historically preserved as a specialty Japanese craft by UNESCO.
This fabric is durable, versatile and water-resistant. It is also light and airy, helping cool your home in hot, humid summers and warm in winter thanks to its humidity control, water absorption, insulation, and UV protection. Since Washi is a natural product, made from indigenous trees and shrubs, it is often chemical-free and even antibacterial.
Washi is translucent and also used in lamps and screens. Todays Washi is often machine-made, but its delicate, soft, weightless appearance make it still uniquely beautiful and desirable for home decorating.
Feng Shui and Washi
The ancient principles of feng shui, a method of spacial arrangement to govern the flow of energy in a home, is a Chinese design process that some of our clients use in their homes. In feng shui, windows are referred to as the eyes of the home and translate to your ability to see clearly in life. What a lovely metaphor!
We agree that it is so important to choose window coverings that allow light and air into the home, while still giving you privacy. In this instance, the Japanese Washi technique lends itself nicely to this Chinese tradition of feng shui.
Washi Fabric in The Pacific Northwest
Here, you can see a wonderful variety of textiles with Washi that we’ve used in The Pacific Northwest. This stylized floral pattern is made in Japan and has a linen ground and paper appliqué flowers. This fabric has a very organic feel and could be perfect in homes with a contemporary and/or Asian influence. It also has a lovely soft hand and drapes well for curtains.
A few years ago, we fabricated bedroom draperies from Washi fabric, and the job turned out beautifully. The final result was outstanding – clean, airy lines and perfectly preserved privacy. There are many shades, patterns and fabric styles available, which give this product a lot of diverse design options.
Of course, our first question was how to clean this fabric. This product is labeled as “Code S”, meaning that the recommended cleaning procedure is dry solvent only (dry cleaned). So while you can’t throw it directly in the washing machine, it’s still very durable when handled properly.