Textiles: The Evolution of Carnegie Xorel

Bob Goldman, founder of family-owned textile company Carnegie and father of current president Cliff Goldman, immediately understood the potential of a unique, lustrous yarn that he discovered at a mill in Germany in the mid-1970s. But figuring out how to turn it into something useful for the commercial interior design industry was another matter. “Nothing like it had ever been used,” he remembers. “We spent several years learning how to weave it.” In Europe, the fiber was being used for industrial purposes, but Goldman wanted to use it to create decorative fabric wallcoverings. Up to that point, the only durable options available to architects and designers to cover vertical surfaces in commercial spaces were vinyl and paint.

“We ran 44 different tests,” continues the senior Goldman, so Carnegie could guarantee that the woven fabric that was developed was extremely durable and cleanable. “You couldn’t destroy it,” he recalls. “It was virtually indestructible.” But the biggest issue to Carnegie, an early pioneer in what we now call environmental design, was that it was safe and would not off-gas harmful vapors.

In 1981, when Goldman was satisfied on the safety front, Carnegie launched Xorel, the original durable woven wallcovering that still maintains its leadership position today and is largely responsible for the company that Carnegie has become. “The creation of Xorel has led us to focus on developing problem-solving materials that have the smallest environmental impact throughout all our product lines,” says Cliff Goldman. “Being immersed in the intricacies of this textile development has affected the overall culture of our product development team.” According to Goldman, research and development that leads to the constant improvement of materials is central to Carnegie’s company philosophy. “The path we have followed with Xorel has been critical to the successful outcomes in our other product lines and has led to continued growth,” he says.

The first Xorel collection was limited to plain weaves in short color lines, says Bob Goldman, but its textural quality introduced something altogether new to the industry, and its “big, strong environmental story” resonated with designers. “Within two years, Xorel was the gold standard in the industry,” he notes, adding that the next big issue was “How do we create different designs?” Eventually, that question would be answered with woven jacquards, embossed and embroidered versions, custom design capabilities, graphic patterns, fire retardancy, and a vastly expanded color line.

Cliff Goldman credits Heather Bush, Carnegie’s executive vice president of creative, with most of the design excitement surrounding Xorel. “Since joining Carnegie in 1997, Heather has been instrumental in the creative growth of the Xorel product line,” he says. “She brings a unique mastery of the technical aspects of the material along with a talented aesthetic vision.” Bush oversees the entire equation of Xorel from end-use application and color development to technologies for backings. “Her recent work with embossing and embroidery has brought the product to a new design level, which was unimaginable 30 years ago,” says Goldman.

“Our challenge is to continually expand Xorel’s aesthetic repertoire through new yarn developments, backing technologies, and decorative artistry,” he adds, noting that Xorel speaks the same language that Carnegie strongly endorses as a company: high performance, aesthetically evolving, and environmentally sensible.
Xorel by Carnegie Turns 30
A difficult birth but a fine family upbringing characterize the evolution of Carnegie’s Xorel brand of woven wallcoverings, which turns 30 years old this year
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