04/09/2024 • 3 min read

Digital Knitting: Bringing Fashion to Furniture

Creating endless design possibilities for the future

by Haworth, Inc.

Most people think of cozy sweaters and bulky scarves when it comes knitting, but the craft’s rich history dates back to 11th-century Egypt. The technique of making fabric from a strand of yarn and two thin sticks has undergone a high-tech transformation in recent years. Shoe brands like Nike, for its Flyknit shoes, and fashion labels such as Rothy’s and Ministry of Supply, are all using digital knitting technology to create high-end, high-performance, comfortable, and breathable knit designs.

Technical knitting, while dominating consumer goods, is new to contract office furniture markets. “What Nike and Adidas did to the tennis shoe can be done for office furniture and interior design,” says Liz Johnson, Principal Designer in Haworth’s Industrial Design Studio. “A desk chair can offer an experience similar to that of a favorite running shoe, with beautiful knit patterns, high-performance fibers, and supportive structures designed in just the right places to benefit the user.”

With speed and efficiency, a designer’s sketch can be quickly translated into knitted material applied to seating, lounge furniture, panels, and more. In the future, it will be impossible to imagine life without this technology. That’s why Haworth is continuing to innovate and find ways to use the technology to enhance comfort, performance, and aesthetics across a variety of products.

Innovative Solutions

Similar to woven fabrics, knit combinations are endless, especially with advancements in yarn and fiber technology. Haworth, for example, works with partner Camira to develop specialized yarns based on desired performance attributes.

Haworth Digital Knits are designed and shaped to fit the exact curves and contours of the individual furniture form. Additional benefits include targeted strength and stretch only where they are needed. For example, Haworth designed tighter knit structures in the pelvic and lumbar regions of knit back task chairs, while using more open and flexible stitches in the thoracic region of the back. Therefore, perfect pattern alignment, passive ergonomic support, and breathability can be achieved without the use of additional textiles, fill, or foam. The result is a product that conforms to any user’s body, providing ultimate comfort.

Zero Waste

Sustainable practices within state-of-the-art digital knitting technology drive three basic inputs: yarn, electricity, and a gentle steam finish. The knit is designed, produced, and tensioned to precise specifications, giving it a consistent look and fit every time. For Haworth task chairs that are knit-to-fit, there is no waste of materials using digital knitting. Overhead is reduced, as well as the time and manufacturing complexity compared to the traditional methods of upholstering products.  

Knits are embedded in our lives, and all that we touch and wear. At the same time, Haworth continues to build engaging and people-centric workspaces and ancillary spaces, focusing on well-being, environmental, and sustainable standards for all materials to ensure the protection of our Earth and human health.

More on Digital Knits

Discover more about digital knitting innovation at Haworth.


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