Embroidery, like other forms of needlework, has always been a source of innovation in American decorative arts, and Bush has simply continued the tradition by updating its materials and application. Her Xorel Embroider brings decorative stitchery to places we’re not accustomed to finding it, like hospitals and office buildings.
The highly durable wall covering and upholstery fabric appears to be embroidered, but the yarn, like the surface it has been stitched on, is polyethylene—–utilitarian, washable, and enduring.
It is, of course, not couture work, but the yarn has a delicacy and decorative detail, and its single, double, and more intricate stitching riffs on high-end handwork. Bush says it was her hope to bring a sense of craft, a genuine texture and surface interest, and a graphic quality to a high-performance surfacing material. “It kind of has a tattoo-ish feeling,” she says of Sway, an oversize, slightly off-center pattern that leaves a lot of negative space. Other designs with botanical motifs resemble improvisational pencil drawings. And the more recent Xorel Stripe takes its cues from men’s dress shirts, a source Florence Knoll might have looked to herself.