Punch needling is taking interior design by storm
Punch needling or tufting: The technique goes by many names, but they all describe the same thing in essence. The method is used to produce rugs and carpets, wall hangings and other textiles, either using a machine (tufting) or by hand (punch needling). It was a big trend back in the 1970s. Closely related to rug hooking, tufting is taking off in the young design and DIY scene. Why is tufting so in again? And what can be created with the technique? Prepare to be inspired.
Brightly coloured and fluffy, like the Dot Tufted Cushion by ferm LIVING: The punch-needle trend is entering our living rooms. (Photo: ferm LIVING)
Tufting: a peek behind the technique
Tufting involves using a machine to punch pile yarn loosely through the back of a piece of fabric – the primary backing. The needles are positioned in a row as wide as the fabric. The thick yarn is held by loopers until the needle is pulled out again. This creates loops – also known as nap or tufts. Laminating involves applying a secondary backing to the fabric with adhesive to hold the loose yarn in place.
The result is called a loop-pile carpet or rug. If the loops are cut, cut pile is produced. Scissors can be used to cut contrasts and patterns into the pile by varying the height of the loops, as can be seen in the hand-tufted MARMO by Linie Design . Multicoloured motifs and playful designs can also be punched in, as the Fearless Living rug by Jean-Philippe Demeyer demonstrates.
With its pattern and shimmering elements, the hand-tufted MARMO rug by Linie Design exudes comfort with a dash of dynamism in living rooms, dining rooms or bathrooms. (Photo: Linie Design)
Tufted carpets, coverings and more
The technique of tufting can be traced back to the second century AD and has Egyptian-Roman origins. The method also has a long tradition in Japan and Russia. In addition to rugs and carpets, it can also be used to produce or decorate wall hangings, cushion covers and even furniture. These accessories – such as Comfort Power by Limited Edition – create a snug, inviting atmosphere with their soft, thick tufts or fringes while their colourful shades and playful patterns brighten up the interior design.
The Tufted Wall Deco Rug by ferm LIVING puts abstract art on the wall in fabric form. The sofa cushion Pillow 02 by Studio Proba exudes warmth and comfort, while the Dot Tufted Pouf by ferm LIVING is an eye-catching feature with its red tufted highlights. Tufting is less time-consuming than knotting or weaving, which is why many of the products are often less expensive even though they may be handmade. It’s no surprise, then, that the technique is taking off in the DIY scene.
Comfort in the dining room: The hand-tufted wall hanging adds colour and introduces abstract art into the interior design. (Photo: fermLIVING)
The punch-needle DIY trend on social media
Among DIY enthusiasts, tufting goes by the name of punch needling. The difference is that, instead of a machine, thick, hollow needles known as punch needles are used to thread the yarn through the backing fabric by hand. Employing a wide variety of materials gives the technique real charm. What’s more, it provides plenty of avenues for creativity. On Instagram, SKATE NEEDLE features images such as hand-tufted skateboard covers. AL’S PLACE on the other hand follows the trend for playful interior design and creates mirrors with wavy frames from yarn.
It’s not just hobby artists who are picking up on the trend – young designers are discovering tufting, too. Caroline Kaufman’s hand-tufted rugs are an impressive example. Punch needling is closely related to rug hooking, which is probably the most popular technique at the moment. Bunka Shishu , the Japanese version of tufting, is also trending. It is characterised by artistic, floral patterns. The technique employs traditional silk thread and thinner needles. It therefore produces much finer embroideries whose minute details resemble oil paintings.
Punch-needle design: sustainable and unique
Like many other DIY trends, punch needling saw its popularity surge worldwide during the lockdowns because it is a beautiful, creative activity, perfect for passing the time at home. What’s more, the technique meets the desire for more sustainability as it is an opportunity to work with natural materials such as linen, bamboo and (used) wool or with yarn made from recycled PET bottles. Artists and hobby tufters express their individual personalities with unique punch-needle designs and creative colour combinations.
The trend for natural materials and one-of-a-kind pieces is also taking off in the interiors industry: Minimalist, linear designs are gradually giving way to organic forms . Colours and patterns are experiencing a renaissance. Recycled or untreated materials and limited-edition, handmade furniture and accessories are increasingly defining the market. It’s hardly surprising that artistic punch-needle designs seem to be catching on in the interior design world, too. One beautiful example of the trend is the hand-tufted Flora rug by Nani Marquina with its elaborate, floral patterns.
Handmade accessories, like Nani Marquina's Flora rugs, in bright colors make for unique, highly coveted punch needle eye-catchers. (Photo: Nani Marquina)
Tufting and other trends at imm cologne
The centuries-old technique of tufting has recently enthralled the world of DIY interior design. And growing numbers of designers are producing hand-tufted rugs and other punch-needle products. The organic, colourful shapes, diverse materials and individual creations tie in perfectly with the trend for sustainable, unique design objects and furnishings. Stay up to date on trends, tips and inspiration from the interior design industry: Sign up here for our magazine newsletter !