PARIS — Industrial design is getting dressed up.

Recent innovations in textiles have prompted designers to use fabrics in new ways — from covering garden furniture to building wall partitions.

Take Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s textile “Tiles” for the Kvadrat showroom in Stockholm. The colorful compressed fabric and foam tiles can be assembled to create soundproof wall partitions. “It is an innovative method of using textiles as a medium or material, rather than just a decoration,” said Loic Bigot, owner of the trendy Tools gallery in Paris.

Bouroullec’s “Slow” chair for Vitra — steel frames covered in knitted sheaths — also illustrates innovative textile technology. The chair seems weightless compared with traditional heavy living room furniture. While currently still a prototype, the chair will be produced next year by Vitra.

Using colorful materials for a custom-made look, Hella Jongerius designed cushions, dubbed the Handles, by attaching leather grips to create handbag-like forms. Jongerius-crafted creations like the Polder couch use various fabrics in different colors to give the sofa a textured look.

Meanwhile, at Italy’s Moroso, Patricia Urquiola gives a soft touch to her Antibodi chaise longue. The lounge chair uses reversible felt and wool fabrics to form three-dimensional flower petals to create a kaleidoscopic patchwork over a chrome-plated frame.

This story first appeared in the May 26, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.