"No Other Fabric Has Ever Whispered Touch Me Quite Like Velvet"
From the sumptuous villas of renaissance Florence to the doomed royal court at Versailles and the formal drawing rooms of Victorian London, no other fabric has ever whispered "touch me" quite like velvet.
The good news for couch potatoes, housecats and touchy-feely types everywhere is that the fabric is making a return to our homes in a big way for the first time since the revival of the 1980s, both as an upholstery material and in homewares such as cushions.
However, this time around, the material is being used with a decidedly 21st century sensibility. In upholstery, for example, velvet is being paired with sleek, minimal furniture for a contemporary look.
Technological advances mean velvets come in a wider array of colours and patterns than ever before, with emerald green and sapphire blue proving popular.
Along with bright jewel tones, Richard Misso, co-founder of interior design firm The Stylesmiths, says washed-out retro and deep royal hues are the two big directions.
"The colours to look out for are vintage tones like dusty pale blues and pinks. At the other end of the spectrum, rich navy, dark grey and blood burgundy seem to dominate."
In the past, velvet was woven from silk or cotton, meaning it was expensive and fragile. These days, it is generally a blend of natural and man-made fibres.
Frank Novembre, managing director of furniture retailer DOMO, says the new velvets are much hardier and have a wider range of applications. "We are seeing velvet feature heavily in larger pieces for the home, be it sofas, armchairs, bedheads and more," Novembre says. "Velvet is also proving popular when it comes to soft furnishings."
Velvet can be a good choice for small spaces, or rooms without much natural light, as its reflective qualities can create a sense of brightness and spaciousness.
The fabric can also soften contemporary interiors that might otherwise feel a little stark, such as those with a lot of pared-back Scandinavian furniture or hard surfaces such as concrete floors.
When incorporating velvet into your home, restraint is key.
"Velvet is perfect for accent chairs or soft furnishings, and is even better when contrasted with other materials and finishes such as leather and marble," Novembre says.
However, this time around, the material is being used with a decidedly 21st century sensibility. In upholstery,Velvet furniture works best when mixed with contrasting textures. "Large pieces of upholstery such as bedheads and sofas need to be broken up by other fabrics or rugs," says Misso. "It's all about juxtaposing and creating balance."