Myth busting | Breaking the viscose barrier

In an age of innovation and technical development the viscose fibre truly stands the test of time. Embracing natural beauty, versatility and innovation viscose/rayon uses science to convert a natural component into a high quality yarn for weave. Known across the world as different names, the term viscose is widely used in Europe, whilst more commonly known as rayon across America.

Known as a regenerated or manufactured fibre, while still being composed of a natural component, viscose is different to the typically natural products such as linen and cotton as it undergoes a manufacturing process. This process sees cellulose fibres from wood or cotton dissolved in an alkali to make a solution called viscose. This is then extruded through a nozzle or spinneret into an acid bath to reconvert the viscose into cellulose.

Viscose was the very first regenerated fibre to be manufactured sighting the first commercial production in the early 1900s. It was originally sold as an artificial silk due to its super soft handle and subtle sheen.

Below we explore what makes viscose yarn unique, how to appropriately care for it and why this versatile creation should be celebrated and not feared.

Mokum Sahel

Inherent Fibre Characteristics

Viscose is widely used across the fashion apparel and interior soft furnishing industries due to the inherent characteristic emulating that of a natural fibre but being more cost effective to produce.

In interior textiles the viscose fibre is typically used in either a blended yarn or as a mixed composition scenario to ensure strength and stability of the final product.

A fabric that contains a viscose component can have the same fabric dye processes, finishes and printing applications as other natural fibres.

That being said, it is important to understand the inherent characteristics of this yarn to truly understand how this will perform in your home.

As with all natural fibres, Viscose has a unique personality. When developing textiles we interpret these characteristics to carefully determine care instructions and the recommended usage in each individual fabric quality.


  • Soft Handle
  • Luxurious appearance and subtle natural lustre.
  • Viscose yarn absorbs and holds dye well. Especially when piece dyed, a viscose product has the ability to reflect vibrant and bold colour.
  • Can be engineered to resemble other natural fibres such as linen cotton and silk, while in most instances, can be more cost effective.
  • Absorbent fibre and less durable when wet. We recommend that fabric qualities with a high percentage of viscose yarn are not washed or spot cleaned with water. Due to the absorbent nature of the yarn, spot cleaning can result in watermarks occurring.
  • Dry Cleanable. In most cases we recommend a professional dry clean for compositions with a high amount of viscose.
  • Low thermal retention. This characteristic mostly applies to the fashion apparel industry. Being a cellulose based fibre, it does not retain heat as well. 
  • As with all natural fibre, viscose can be susceptible to fading in direct sunlight due to the extreme UV conditions in Australasia we recommend you are mindful of where natural fibres are  situated in the home. In a drapery situation we always recommend a quality lining.
  • For interior textiles, a fabric with a component of viscose yarn is extremely versatile and can be used in drapery, upholstery and accessory applications. We don’t typically recommend viscose fabrics to be used for bedding due to the fibre generally being dry clean only.

Catherine Martin for Mokum Bespoke 

Common Misconceptions

Based on historic incidences of poor quality viscose yarns, there is a common misconception in the market that viscose is not appropriate for upholstery application.

Despite its reputation, viscose is in fact an extremely popular upholstery fibre due to its unrivalled soft luxurious handle and subtle sheen. It’s important however, as with all natural fibres, to understand the fibre’s inherent characteristics and to have the necessary knowledge around appropriate care and maintenance.

When high quality viscose yarns are blended with other natural and synthetic yarns the fabric’s durability is improved whilst maintaining the desired soft handle of using viscose.
When used in constructions which yield a generous pile, it is important to understand that a viscose pile needs to be viewed much like a velvet; it will likely shade and sway over time but it is an inherent characteristic of a viscose pile and therefore should not be viewed as a product failure.

Mokum Handloom

Care and Maintenance Tips and Tricks

The appropriate maintenance of soft furnishings depends on the fibre content, type of weave and the way in which the fabric has been coloured and finished. Proper care and maintenance will significantly improve the life span of the fabric.

Each individual fabric qualities care and maintenance requirements will be different. This is carefully considered and tested when we develop a new product. Please take note of the care instruction provided with your fabric.

  • Pile shading/ sway marks will more often than not will lift on their own or can be gently brushed and moved to reinvigorate the pile.
  • We recommend a professional dry clean for compositions with a high percentage of viscose. We do not recommend to wash or spot clean with water these qualities, as there is a chance they could watermark.
  • More often than not, on upholstery qualities that are unable to be washed or spot cleaned, we will apply a stain repellent finish to the fabric for ease of care.
  • Treating a stain, by spot cleaning with a clean, dry white cloth will often remove the stain.
  • A superior quality lining is always recommended for drapery applications. 
  • Due to the absorbent nature of the yarn there this likely to be some movement in curtain length. This occurs due to seasonal temperature change and the absorption and release of atmosphere moisture from the yarn. We recommend that fabrics with high natural or regenerated fibre content to puddle the drape for a more relaxed aesthetic. 
    The puddling amount is at the discretion of the manufacturer and client, however a good base allowance would be 100mm over a 2000mm drop.

James Dunlop Contexture

Viscose Fabric Recommendations

BROADWAY55% LI, 35% VI, 10% PL
A show-stopping wide-width design, Broadway is of course named after the famous theatre district of New York. Available in a range of sixteen gorgeous colours with a crush finish creating texture and drama.
LUNOS | 30% LI, 70% VI
Beauty in simplicity is true with the essential plain Lunos. Suitable for lightweight upholstery, drapery and accessories, it has a stunning soft handle with the tactility created through its linen and viscose composition. The colour palette reflects mineral and seasonal tones with a bold strength of colour in the blue shades. The nature of the piece dying technique can involve a slight variation of colour, adding to the organic beauty of the weave.
SOHO65%LI, 35%VI
A much loved essential plain; design Soho weaves high quality linen and viscose yarn into a durable upholstery weight fabric. The colour palette of Soho has been recoloured and enhanced to highlight its rustic palette incorporating new fashion colours. Relaunching July 2020.
Design Contexture embraces the complexity of layering and texture, weaving chenille yarn into an abstract pattern formation resulting in a luxuriously tactile upholstery design. Perfect as a statement piece in the home or as an accessory.
INVERSION75% VI, 15% CO, 10% LI
A small-scale textural plain which sits alongside design Terrain. The construction emphasises the colour contrast of the yarns, creating texture and dimension to the design. Inversion has a tonal colour palette influenced by autumnal tones and is a perfect base to suit classic and contemporary interiors.

Craftsmanship and tactility continue to gain importance in interior design. A focus on texture encourages mindfulness, slowness and reflection. Handloom is an exquisite example of artisanal textile craft. This divine heavy textile is hand woven in India and will be loved by those who appreciate the beauty of its inherent imperfection.

BESPOKE54% VI, 34% CO, 12% PL
Our divine textured velvet was inspired by a desire to create the ultimate luxury velvet, one with both a linen velvet aesthetic and a soft and sumptuous handle. Bespoke was carefully constructed with a viscose pile creating a lustrous, plush finish and antiqued surface. Custom dyed to deliver an extensive, fashion forward palette; Bespoke offers an array of beautiful neutrals and opulent theatrical tones. The palette includes Catherine Martin’s signature red, in honour of Bazmark’s famed Red Velvet Trilogy: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge.

SAHEL54% VI, 29% CO, 17% LI
A luminous chenille upholstery woven in a blend of natural and synthetic fibres for enhanced performance. With its soft handle and timeless colour palette, Sahel is a true Mokum classic.

HOLLYWOOD52% VI, 32% PL, 16% CO
Glamourous yet understated, this Mokum classic has been refined and refreshed. The luxurious chenille upholstery is woven using the finest Italian yarn to create a subtle texture, soft handle and elegant tailored finish that suits both contemporary and classic interiors. Hollywood now offers a curated palette of sophisticated neutrals; where nuanced light naturals sit against grey based mid tones and dramatic dark neutrals.





Amber Green






Homegrown | David Shaw Furniture

People & Places

Homegrown is a series highlighting some of our local and loved creative businesses in the community who have been designing and crafting on the local and international stage. 

Today we get an insight into well-known New Zealand furniture design and manufacturer, David Shaw Furniture, their history, culture and vision driving their team.  David left school at 16 to pursue his passion behind furniture design and manufacture.