Soof Designs

Soof Designs

Maxwell Ryan
May 17, 2006

(This post was sent in by Insta-Reporter Justin,who ventured up to Harlem this past weekend to check out a Design Month party at Soof Designs new showroom. Thanks, Justin!)

Soof Designs new studio in Lower Harlem seems like a textile palace in a very small space. Owner Omar Rahim opened the studio last night with gracious hospitality and a plethora of luxurious Pakistani silks and Rilli's.

The linens are shown in different manifestations, such as tapestries and coverlets, each with a unique vibrancy and visual flavor that rivals the next. The Rilli is a time-honored Pakistani tradition, and they consist of two layers of cotton fabrics sandwiching a thin layer of batting for loft.

Usually, one side is gloriously decorated with printed fabrics, embroidery and patchwork while the other is one piece of either plain or printed cotton, but it is not unusual to see both sides decorated. It is easy to picture a brightly colored Rilli draped over a corner of a modern Italian sofa to break up the hard lines and add texture and warmth. In fact, draped over a headboard, chair or divider, the Rilli can be an excellent way of pulling colors together in a room, or breaking up a monotone area.

Omar had shown the Rillis used in various locations of his home-like studio and also explained how the Pakistani sometimes use them as rugs. "It seems sacrilegious, almost." he says, but continues to explain how the density of the fabric allows it to wear well.

Rillis are not as common place here, and the price tag shows it. Although the sizes are different due to their uniqueness, the average size is approximately 65 x 88 in. which should be enough for a queen size bed. But be prepared to pay for this luxury, prices for rillis range anywhere from $800 - $1500.

Omar also imports fine Jacquard Silks which were also abundant as pillows, tapestries and robes. I particularly liked the silk trimmed table linens- runners, napkins and coasters. No word on pricing for those just yet.

Perhaps the most exciting venture for Omar is his foray into furniture design and upholstery. Currently, he is developing a line of reupholstered vintage furniture, mostly art deco era pieces in teak.

I was also allowed a "sneak peak" at a concept for a sofa bed that Omar proudly uses and displays in his own living room upstairs. The concept originally came from a shipwreck, actually. Pakistan is notorious for salvage operations for ships from around the world. One of his associates called him and explained the sofa, and convinced him to build a prototype. Well, actually a few prototypes before they got it right. The sofa is simple, comfortable and actually has a semi-modern look to it. It opens to a full size bed in mere seconds and closes as easily.

Omar is excited about developing this concept for New York City, where space is usually as tight as a ship's quarters, and rightfully so. I would quickly acquire one for my own bite size apartment.

- Justine K.

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