Mid-Century Maestro:
The Textiles of Boris Kroll

October 2 – December 7, 2013
NYSID Gallery

Mid-Century Maestro: The Textiles of Boris Kroll

For six decades, beginning in the 1930s, Boris Kroll and his eponymous firm were celebrated for distinctive collections of high-quality woven fabrics for the design industry. A self-taught weaver, Kroll was perhaps best known for combining advanced weaving technology with a bold color sensibility to create his trademark jacquard-woven geometric patterns, in intense hues ranging from brilliant crimsons to deep blues and greens. After Kroll's death in 1991, the firm was purchased by Scalamandré, one of the country's most prestigious producers of fine fabrics, wall coverings, and accessory products. This exhibition will showcase, for the first time, the extraordinary range and sophistication of the Boris Kroll collections in a display of historic textiles from the company's archives, along with photographs and documentary materials to bring its rich history to life.

The History of Boris Kroll

Born in Buffalo in 1913, Boris Kroll showed an early aptitude for color and pattern — especially in textiles. At the age of 16, he moved to New York City to work for his brother’s furniture factory, where he became fully engaged with yarns, weaves, and fabrics. Inspired by the newly bright and modern woman’s apparel of the day, Kroll was determined to bring these contemporary stylings into the world of interiors.

In 1936, he opened Kroll Handwovens, which grew into Boris Kroll Fabrics. In 1949, the company, housed in a state-of-the-art 250,000 square-foot factory, which became a thriving industry leader in the textile manufacturing hub of Paterson, New Jersey. It was the only American textile house that produced everything from fiber to finished fabric. The processes of dying and coning to testing, weaving, and inspecting was made side-by-side, which allowed for exemplary quality control and gave Kroll the luxury of being able to experiment.

And experiment he did. Kroll set out to create the first waterproof upholstery fabric in the mid 1940s. This discovery and revolutionary, successful production method was only the first of many innovations for Boris Kroll Fabrics. In the 1970s, Kroll pioneered the use of the Jaquard loom in a new way to execute his large-scale tapestry designs, intended to brighten large expanses of walls in public settings and corporate offices. One of Kroll’s most important innovations was his design of the first flame-retardant fabric, which was first used in the interiors of Continental Airlines’ Boeing 747.

Kroll’s outstanding career was acknowledged by the arts and design communities. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science in 1971. His fabrics and tapestries are in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; and were featured in a 1956 show at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, entitled Textiles USA — the first major show devoted entirely to modern American textiles. Solo exhibitions have been mounted at the Seattle Art Museum, Washington; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York; and at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York.

With a long and healthy career, Boris Kroll retired at age 75 and died two years later. While his most celebrated and iconic works were done in the 50s and 60s, they endure as a sort of Camelot of high design.


Mid-Century Maestro: The Textiles of Boris Kroll Press Release

161 East 69th Street, NYC
Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm




161 East 69th Street
New York, NY

Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm

Tuesday- Saturday, 11am - 6pm
Closed on all major holidays.
Admission is free.

Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm