“Mare textorum”, or: is there a Mediterranean textile?

In its DNA, Proposte has the mission of being the selective and international exhibition of high-end furnishing fabrics and curtains. We can boldly state that Italy is the absolute leader in this segment but it is not the only player in existence. Indeed, more than half of the exhibitors of the Cernobbio event come from other countries and, when reasoning in terms of manufacturers who work in the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, one discovers that they are definitely a majority. The question therefore arises as to whether there exists a common trait, a sign of shared history or elements of contiguity that may point to an absolutely millennial textile tradition shared among the different inhabitants of the shores of what the ancient Arabs and Romans called “The White Middle Sea” and “Mare Nostrum” (Our Sea). In seeking an answer, we put a few questions to Nabil Tazi, the manager of PIF Textile, a Moroccan textile enterprise leader in Morocco in the decorative furnishing and upholstering textiles sector.

Q. – Let’s start with a brief history of your firm; you are a family enterprise but also a large-sized company…
A. – Certainly. PIF Textile is the leader in Morocco in the production of high-end upholstery and decorative textiles, although we are not solely a textile company but rather a vertical and complete industry. PIF is an acronym from the French words for “production”, “printing” and “finishing”. Our firm was founded in 1975 and exports to over 40 countries across the world. Our philosophy is based on timeless designs for high-end products and on modern and efficient service, translating into pre- and post-sales assistance, fast sampling capacity and a ‘customer first’ approach. With our long family tradition we have always cultivated and kept long-term relationships with our customers. This for us is a highly precious value that, together with our vast inventory of yarns and products, makes us a reliable and constant partner for our clientele. Our vertical integration, based on yarn dyed and piece dyed fabrics and finishing units, plus the weaving output of 120 looms, allows us to meet any requirements coming from the home sector or the contract sector. We guarantee not only the availability of a very wide range of colours but also superior quality. Our collections can meet the demands of any kind of client, from upholstered furniture manufacturers to interior decorators and all the way to outdoor fabric dealers, including the most technical and highly performing ones for the Contract world (mostly flame retardant Trevira CS).

Q. – Which aesthetic and colour trends are you preparing for the 2020 sales season?
A. – We export our products all over the world, and therefore we are always diversifying our quality and the styles of our textile creations so as to meet the needs of the widest range of clients possible. Some of our collections could be defined as Chic & Modern, with elegant decorative patterns and very soft colours, ideal for dressing up luxury interiors or sophisticated mansions and hotels. We take special care in our weaving and finishing processes, offering sometimes for the same fabric proposed various qualities of yarn (ranging from natural fibres to the Trevira CS proposals for Contract clients) in order to show our clients that in every version, even the most technical and flame resistant ones, we can ensure feel and effects that are similar to the natural products. We also have more vivacious and trendy lines with bright colours and more distinctive graphical and decorative patterns, such as the ethno-chic or the pop–modern patterns. As regards the outdoor sector, we have obviously very technical and highly performing collections (Trevira CS) offered in a vast range of strong and solar colours, ideal for decorating outdoor spaces on cruise ships or in comfortable interiors.
Summing up, our textile tradition is closely linked to natural materials. Precisely to this end, we have developed many textile lines designed to meet the requirements of an environmentally responsible industrial and commercial dimension that uses recycled materials (cotton in our case).

Q. – Could one say that there is a “Mediterranean” fabric, or a style, a decorative fil rouge linking the textile worlds that historically look out onto the shores of this Sea located between Africa and Europe?
A. – Historically speaking, the Mediterranean area has been the cradle of human civilisation. Its art history is very rich and has influenced humanity since the beginning. A Mediterranean fabric certainly has a highly faceted dimension and authenticity. This is how we can evoke many Mediterranean arts, such as Byzantine, Roman, Greek, Moorish, Egyptian, Iberian, and so on. All of these influences have been represented by means of home fabrics and interior decorations. One can simply evoke the impact of certain regions or cities of the Mediterranean on the history of textiles, like Damascus, Toile de Jouy and many others. So I would most certainly say that there is an aesthetic fil rouge linking these textile traditions. Many textile manufacturing firms, however, cherish a sort of ‘genius loci’, of local industrial and manual skill that others struggle to achieve.

Q. – How much of the immense textile and decorative traditions of the Arab world do you propose and insert in your collections?
A. – As a Moroccan company that has contacts also with the Middle East, we sometimes receive requests for the reproduction, through our own sensitivity, of an interpretation of authentic documents that portray Arabic geometric patterns or “Zellige” mosaics. It is always a pleasure to live this kind of experience, to feel the size and impact of such a rich and gratifying decorative custom.

Q. – As regards fibres and weaving techniques, which ones do you prefer? What does the international buyer ask of you when it contacts you?
A. – The core of our firm and of our work consists in creativity and in product development. Our long-standing experience in furnishing textiles helps us in translating the clients’ needs even when the expectations are very high. It is always a gratifying challenge when we succeed in meeting the requirements of our clients. In order to obtain these successes, however, we must closely listen to their demands, comprehend and feel the cultural background they are expressing and transform them into a product that will be appreciated over time. This process requires that the partners share mutual comprehension, trust and consideration. This is the key to the success of any long-term relationship.

Q. – What do you think of Proposte and, in your opinion, which role can it play in the global market?
A. – The personality of Proposte is clear and well defined: it is the exhibition of furnishing textiles of the international elite players of our sector. This means that its role is to maintain the level as high as possible by selecting the best high-end firms so as to keep on being the “trendy event of trends” throughout the world.