The Impact of Textile Technology on Modern Upholstery

May 15, 2024

by Kristen Pang

3 Existing Textile Technologies that Resolve Household Hassles.


Technology is close to reaching Back-to-the-Future levels of advancement in 2024. There have been leaps in the development of AI, such as Chatgpt, robotics with Disney’s smooth-moving animatronics, and digital currency apps like Touch and Go E-Wallet and Grab Pay. The upholstery fabric industry also has promising research projects. For example, scientists (name the group) are developing electro-fabrics to help doctors better understand coma patients with heat and pressure sensors.


But, honestly? Why should we care now?


Some textile technologies will greatly benefit our society in the future. But realistically, most of us purchase a pattern-changing dress for a party or two if we can afford it. These fancy-schmancy inventions don’t seem… practical, you know? However, textile technologies have already improved the lives of many households right under our noses!


These fabric innovations aren’t on the news - they are already on the shelves at your nearest lifestyle or furniture store.


For example, did you know that there are fabrics in the market that can stop house fires? During my stay in Australia, I bought a remote-controlled electric blanket to keep me warm during the cold nights, which has improved my sleep quality!


In this article, I will introduce 3 of the many upholstery fabric innovations that have resolved common household challenges and supported the daily activities of thousands of families and communities.

Fabrics that Extinguish House Fires. 


Have you seen that Facebook video of a Christmas tree catching fire? It’s scary to see how a fully furnished room can be engulfed in flames in under a minute. Safety is our utmost priority everywhere we go. For the sake of our loved ones, we should use all the tools at our disposal to prevent avoidable disasters.


Without textile technologies, there are two effective ways we can prevent fires at home with fabrics:


  1. Move your sofas, curtains, rugs and pillows away from all heat sources, including flammable chemicals and electrical outlets. Most fabrics will ignite immediately and become pathways for fires to travel around your house.

  2. Choose fabric materials that naturally have a slower burning process. Fabrics made from synthetic materials like acrylic, polyester and nylon are more fire-resistant than natural fabrics because they only ignite at higher temperatures. Wool and silk are exceptions, as they have been proven to slow and potentially extinguish fires under certain conditions.


These two strategies alone won’t stop house fires from spreading. Our furniture will ignite eventually. However, we can take one step further to save our house, valuables, and loved ones by purchasing fabrics with fire-resistant textile technology. 


Starlight / Collection

FR fabrics are a common choice for most commercial and public areas, including schools, governmental offices, religious places, theatres, hotels and cruise ships. They are textiles with lab-treated fibres designed to slow down, contain and even extinguish flames.


There are two types of FR fabrics: Fire Retardant and Fire Resistant fabrics. While they sound similar, they have different manufacturing processes that affect their flame-repellent properties:

  • Fire Resistant Fabrics

    Fire-resistant fabrics are made from synthetic fibres that resist ignition and melt to extinguish flames after a long time. While they are the more expensive alternative, their fire-repellent properties are guaranteed to be effective and permanent for decades.


  • Fire Retardant Fabrics

    Fire retardant fabrics can be made from any material because they are treated with flame-resistant chemicals. They can burn slower than flame-resistant fabrics and are relatively more affordable. However, some fire retardant products may lose their flame-repellent capabilities over time because their chemicals can be washed away.

I recommend seeking more adorable, inherently flame-retardant fabrics because their non-combustible chemicals will stay in the fabric for decades, even after several washes. FR-One sells inherently fire-retardant fabrics proven by European Standards (EN) and the International Maritime Standard (IMO) to have durable fire-resistant properties. It has also been certified by Oeketex to not contain any harmful chemicals, making it safe for the environment, your children and your pets! You don’t have to compromise style for safety either because FR-One’s collections have a diverse variety of fabric colours, patterns and materials.


Savvy / Collection

Ultimately, both FR fabrics are excellent options that keep your living space safe. The only thing you must check before purchasing one is their quality.


Upholstery fabric manufacturers must legally prove the product’s fire-resistant standards with a certified label. The most common international certifications you can look for are IMO, European EN and British BS. If you find any other fabric labels, you can also check them against FR-One’s detailed list of international fire-resistant standards. On a national level, any fire-resistance certification from the Department of Standards Malaysia or companies they approve is acceptable. 

VR Tools For Upholstery Fabric Shopping!


Sensational / Collection


Synergy / Collection

We already know what we want our house to look like, but once the furniture retailer asks us what shade of green we want for the armchair, we fumble over our words.


“One of the reasons people hire interior designers is because they have a hard time visualising how selected materials will look together. This is especially important in the earlier stages of a design process because we don’t do the photorealistic renderings yet.”

- Anna Kovalchenko, Interior Designer.


But guess what: Interior designers need help to describe their designs too!


Instead, they use traditional and digital visual tools to show, not tell, different design ideas. Anna Jovalchenko recommends making a mood board first. A mood board is a collection of picture references, drawings and material samples that show the room’s layout and vibes.


You can create a one-page digital mood board on your phone! Whenever you scroll through Instagram or social media, save, download or screenshot any colours, furniture, interior styles and room layouts you like and put them in one file. When it is time to get a new set of curtains or rearrange the room for the new year, you can save time with your curated portfolio.


Nevertheless, even with a portfolio, it’s hard to visualise how our ideas come together into one unified space. How can we tell whether the moss-green cushion complements the black…ish blue walls without a direct reference? How can we imagine how a small piece of sheer linen will hang from the curtain rod?


That’s why today, more interior designers, furniture companies and upholstery fabric companies are using VR technologies to experiment with different design combinations. For example, Ikea offers its customers Kreativ, an app that allows them to place a 3D model of Ikea’s furniture in their living spaces. 


Synergy / Collection

The next time you shop for upholstery fabrics, try out Twin Bru, a digital platform that allows you to easily change a fabric’s colour, pattern and material with a simple button press. Their photorealistic technology goes beyond TikTok filters and Generative AI in Photoshop because their library of digital textile samples accurately replicates the fabric’s natural flow and thread texture, giving you the most realistic simulation of the fabric in your home. You can even see how a sheet fabric absorbs the angled light from a window, creating soft lighting in a bedroom. 

Best of all, the whole swapping process happens within minutes, possibly seconds.


Of course 3D images on a screen will never replace the immersive experience of touching a fabric and feeling its soft texture. You should always examine the fabric in person before purchasing it. But if spending 5 minutes swapping between fabric options for a sofa can save an hour of shopping, why not save that extra hour for yourself and other priorities?


You can start testing out different fabrics for your home with Twin Bru’s software for free on the Acacia Fabric website:


Outnumbered / Collection

Outdoor Fabrics that block harmful UV rays!

One day, when I purchase my first house, I would love to go to the balcony, cuddle on a sofa with thick pillows and admire Mother Nature with a warm cup of peppermint tea. What a life that would be!


Unfortunately, the reality is a lot grosser than we want it to be. 

Fabrics on outdoor furniture are constantly exposed to Malaysia’s humidity, frequent rain spells, dirt, dust, sweat and germs. They will get mildew, mould, and stubborn stains if they aren’t maintained properly. Even if you can maintain them regularly, you will find yourself shopping for a new pillow cover because the sun’s UV rays have caused the fabric to wear down and lose its vibrant colour!


Yet, many homeowners are willing to put in the work if it encourages their family to spend the evening playing badminton outdoors rather than being glued to their screens. It is also an excellent investment for businesses to attract tired customers who pass by their premises. Thankfully, there is a whole submarket of fabrics with textile technologies that resolve many of these issues.


Outdoor fabrics incorporate many textile technologies we often overlook. They are UV-protected, which allows the fabric to retain its colour vibrancy for decades, water and mildew-resistant, and durable against everyday outdoor use. These fabric innovations have advanced to the point where we also have eco-friendly innovations like UV Pro Fabrics, whose 100% solution dying technique uses significantly less water than other fabric dyeing processes. The brand also has a five-year warranty on its products. 


Poolside / Collection

While outdoor fabrics only need a deep cleaning once or twice a year, you still need to occasionally give them a general clean. So aside from purchasing high-quality outdoor fabrics, DIY Expert Denise Wild recommends the following cleaning tips:


  • Get removable covers for your sofas, chairs and pillows so you can clean them in the washing machine.
  • Use a spray bottle filled with water and mild detergent or hand soap to clean upholstery fabric without removing them. 
  • Use a hand-held steamer to kill off the bacteria on cushions.
  • Use a hand-held vacuum to remove dirt.
  • Always check the care instructions or the manufacturer’s website for cleaning recommendations.


Outdoor fabrics look identical to regular upholstery fabrics because they have similar diversity in colours, patterns and materials. If there’s a mix-up, there is no harm in using indoor fabrics for outdoor furniture, but you want to take advantage of the long-lasting benefits of UV-protected fabrics.


Out / Collection

You can tell the difference by rubbing the fabric between your fingers. Outdoor fabrics are notably thicker than regular textiles. You can also pour water over the fabric sample, as outdoor fabrics will let the water flow away instead of absorbing the liquid. If you want to buy a beautiful set of pillow covers on Shopee or Lazada before the promotion ends, check its labels to see if it has characteristics like UV protection or mildew resistance. You can also check for certification labels of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and Labotex for quick quality checks.

Textile technologies in the upholstery fabric industry are much more practical and accessible than we realise. There are still more textile technologies for you to discover, such as Fabric Guard’s antimicrobial fabrics for sensitive skin conditions, Benithem’s plant-based leather for eco-friendly sofas, and YarnPro’s anti-stain fabrics for messy children! 


All Out / Collection

You don’t have to purchase these textile technologies now if your upholstery fabrics at home are good enough for your daily needs.


But the next time you are in the market for a new armchair or a fresh set of curtains, look out for the different utilities a fabric can provide. You might discover fabrics with textile technologies that make your life easier.



Admin. (2021, February 9th). Digital Twins: The Future of Fabric Libraries. Twinbru.

Admin. (2021, March 4th). 3D Fabric Rendering: A visual aid for the modern era. Twinbru.

Cityline. (2017, July 17th). 6 tips for choosing, cleaning and protecting outdoor fabrics [Video]. Youtube.

Coskun H, Oner E. (2021, October 2nd). Development of upholstery electro-fabric for smart textile applications. Journal of Industrial Textiles. doi:10.1177/15280837211048157

Fire Retardant vs Fire Resistant Fabrics(2023, December 21st). Swaelle.

FR-One. (2023 December 4th). Understanding the basics of FR fabrics.

Kovalchenko, A. (2019, May 27th). Interior Design: how to Communicate your Ideas to Clients. L’essenziale

McEntire, K. (2023, September 28th). How Can I Prevent a House Fire. Safewise

Shelly. (2023, October 31st) . Recent Innovations in Upholstery Techniques and Materials (Guide). Toolsweek.

Twin Bru. n.d. Home.

UV Pro. (n.d). Home. UV

UV Pro. (n.d). Quality. UV

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