Cool in summer, warm in winter, tough but soft and, most importantly, produced with minimal impact on the environment, linen might be 36,000 years old, but the world’s oldest fabric is also its most futuristic. Its excellence is celebrated in the V&A exhibition Fashioned From Nature, which examines the history of materials, both natural and man-made, and how they have influenced clothing throughout the centuries. From delicate 17th century Flemish lace to designer JW Andersons’ 21st century dress, linen has always been in fashion, but the role it plays in interiors is just as valuable.

We use linen in the Houses on sofas, lampshades, curtains and cushions, as Soho House Design Director Linda Boronkay explains: 'We love to use linens in our more relaxed schemes such as Soho Farmhouse or the recently refurbished Shoreditch House Rooftop. We will use a lot in the new Farmhouse extension as well which is opening towards the end of the year. The reason why we love this material is the lightness, purity and softness it brings to a scheme, we tend to use paler colours that reflect the inherent nature of this fabric and we love to mix different weave textures to play with its versatility. Linens are usually a good price point too and they are a perfect material for curtains or creating a loose cover for sofas or armchairs that can easily transform an old piece.'


Linen is made from the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). Flax is made of bundles of strong, absorbent fibres that grow between an outer layer of tissue and a woody central core. As the potentially allergic outer part of the fibre is removed during production and the remaining fibres have a compact formation that stops dust particles from embedding, linen is seen as a ‘clean’ fabric which is why it’s widely used in hospitals and is good for allergy sufferers. It’s also resistant to moths and carpet beetles and naturally thermo-regulating – moisture wicking in the heat and insulating against the cold.

Eco-friendly

Linen is one of the most eco-friendly fabrics around. Flax uses far less water than cotton to produce because it doesn’t require irrigation, relying on rainfall and groundwater instead. Minimal pesticides are needed to farm it, so there's less pressure on local ecosystems. There is a use for every part of the flax plant, so nothing is wasted and because linen has excellent colour absorption properties, low-environmental impact dyes can be used.

80% of the world’s flax is produced in Western Europe meaning its supply chain is short and transparent. Our Loft sofa is covered in Belgian linen and our designers can be sure that it’s been made responsibly.

Bold colours and prints

'Linen is one of the oldest natural fabrics in the world, so we know from history that it is clean, smooth and very durable and has so many uses. It actually becomes softer the more it's washed, which lends itself well to clothing and homewares. In its natural state it's a pale, neutral colour since it's made from plants. Like cotton, people have been really experimenting with dyes and application of the fabric; since it's very versatile you can pretty much apply anything to it, like printing bold colours and designs, applique, embroidery and embellishment, so you can really have fun with creating unique designs on a base that is going to last and wash well.' Kirsty Orr, Product Development Manager

Texture

‘For me, linen’s texture is its key attraction; it’s quite smooth and cool to the touch, which makes it perfect all year round, but especially ideal for the summer months. Linen is one of the strongest, most durable fabrics and available in some amazing colours and patterns, which really helps bring your upholstery to life’. Carl Weller, New Product Developer

Long lasting

‘The natural qualities of linen give a soft and warm glow to lighting. Lamp shades covered in the fabric are not only long lasting, they give a comforting sense of nostalgia as this retro fabric has come back into vogue.’ Lucio Longoni, New Product Developer

Soho Farmhouse

Escape the city with a stay at our club in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside