Welcome to our Q&A style blog with Camira Fabrics, a supplier to Sygnus. We asked about cleaning and treating office/workplace based seating, especially at this time, as well as asking about anti-microbial fabrics, fabrics per workplace setting, shades of fabric, when to replace or upholster, fire regulations and their HiP award.  
What tips do you have for cleaning and treating office/workplace based seating, especially at this time? 
Textiles are not actually seen as a major carrier of the virus, as it does not survive as well on soft surfaces, such as fabrics, as it does on frequently touched hard surfaces such as plastics, laminates, metal and glass. However, we do advise customers that the risk can be reduced even further through cleaning and disinfection protocols. 
Probably the most important thing to stress is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. As we’ve seen, when panic spreads during a pandemic, the difference between the two can seem hard to define. This is why we’ve made it our mission to make this easier for our customers to understand with our Guide to Cleaning & Disinfecting Fabrics. 
 
Tell us more about anti-microbial fabrics and the benefits? 
As we all know, COVID-19 has caused global turmoil and placed new emphasis on issues of hygiene and sanitation. While it’s impossible to apply social distancing to the furniture we sit on, what we can do is make our upholstery as safe and as easy to clean as possible when it comes to infection control. With this in mind, we expect antimicrobial and bleach cleanable fabrics to surge in popularity as workplaces look to adopt fabrics which address current concerns and install “personal protective equipment” in the form of privacy screens and panels. 
At Camira, we’ve curated our collection of performance fabrics and vinyls for the contract market here, along with our guide to bleach-cleanable fabrics suitable for panel application. 
 
Are there types of fabrics that you would recommend or consider based on the various workplaces? For example, offices, schools, showrooms and so on? 
All our fabrics are designed for commercial interiors such as offices, schools and colleges, hospitality and leisure. They all meet severe contract abrasion so stand up to heavy traffic contract use, plus meet wide ranging flammability and environmental standards. As much as fabrics will need to play their part in the new era of public health hygiene, they will also need to play a pivotal role in ensuring spaces feel familiar and reassuring.With this in mind, we envisage designers will look to source products that offer balance and bring a sense of calm to commercial interiors whilst having new specification opportunities for the home office with true domestic appeal. 
Whether our customers are looking to specify fabrics for offices, schools or showrooms, we anticipate the mantra ‘less is more’ to be an overarching trend as we go back to basics; embracing the restraints that have become part of our new normality. We anticipate streamlined yet tasteful neutral palettes to be adopted, allowing customers to coordinate with existing collections and schemes. For us, this means focusing on creating timeless, quality products that ensure longevity. Sustainable thinking and materiality will take on even more importance. As we develop our collections for 2020/2021, we are underpinning these with the very notion outlined above. 
 
What are the most popular colours of shades of fabrics used within the workplace? 
Historically, blue, black and grey have been the most dominant colours within the UK contract sector. We are definitely seeing more requests for muted, calming tones as well as pops of bolder brights too but, ultimately, workplace fabrics tend to be more conservative than those selected for hospitality and bigger brand projects, for example. 
 
How can you tell if your seating (fabric) needs to be replaced or whether it can be upholstered before buying new? 
All of our fabrics come with a 10 year guarantee of wearability, meaning that they are designed to look good and perform for many years. The majority of our fabrics actually last much longer, particularly wool fabrics. What tends to happen is that fabrics get dirty and look tired through lack of maintenance long before they actually wear out. And if they’re not properly looked after, this can lead to premature wear through where inground dirt can act as an abradant. It’s important to clean and maintain fabrics properly. 
 
Do fabrics used on office chairs and soft seating need to be compliant with fire regulations? 
Here in the UK, all fabrics used in the contract sector must meet Contract cigarette and match standards (EN 1021: 1&2). In public spaces and public buildings, the higher level Crib 5 Medium Hazard level (BS 7176) is required. 
With the move to increased home working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming apparent that many contract office furniture manufacturers and dealers are targeting the home market using their existing furniture ranges and fabrics. UK domestic flammability regulations differ from contract standards, so we recommend proceeding with caution in order to understand the requirements of the Regulations and to establish the suitability of specific fabrics. Just because a fabric passes crib 5 Medium Hazard flammability (BS 7176), or indeed Contract cigarette and match standards (EN 1021: 1&2), it does not necessarily mean that it will meet domestic regulations. To find out more, click here. 
 
And how can someone tell if their furniture is protected? 
Domestic furniture in the UK must be clearly labelled with a display swing ticket at the point of sale as well as a permanent label affixed to the furniture. Contract furniture doesn’t need to be labelled, so from a fabric perspective it can actually be very difficult to tell which flammability performance level a fabric meets from its appearance alone. Flammability certifications for all of our products are available to download from our website. Our customer service team are happy to advise and we recommend customers check with the furniture manufacturer to determine suitability for end use. 
 
Congratulations on your HiP award. Tell us more about your “green materials”? 
Now in its seventh year, the HiP Awards honour the most innovative products and design-thinkers in the commercial interiors industry, which is why we were delighted to see Oceanic selected for this highly sought after accolade. 
Recognised for its sustainable design credentials, which are part of a wider partnership with the SEAQUAL Initiative to combat plastic marine waste, Oceanic is our very first fabric to contain recycled plastic marine waste. 
In terms of our wider range of “green materials”, sustainability is part of our DNA. We have always been a pioneer of innovation when it comes to a sustainable understanding of textiles and we’re proud to say we’ve been producing recycled fabrics for 20 years, as well as innovating a new category of fabrics made from natural wool and bast fibres, such as nettle, hemp and flax. 
Looking to the future, we continue to innovate in naturally sustainable materials, not only expanding our wool-bast fibre fabric portfolio, but introducing new recycled fabrics, new materials and new concepts. We are also pushing the boundaries in our technical knitting capability to be able to use recycled polyester in the innovative ShrinKnit process using patented Shrinx technology. And we continue to look to create a circular business model whereby we take back our wool off-cuts from furniture upholstery and upcycle it into a commercial furnishing fabric. 
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