Spotlight on Josh Ralton, Agua Fabrics
Based in London, Agua Fabrics is a leading producer of performance upholstery fabrics. The brand’s most recent collection, Tones, wowed the professional design and interiors community, with its added sense of warmth and vibrancy, incorporating mustard, burnt orange, forest green, petrol blue, and coral pink, to highlight just a few.
Exhibiting at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo this June at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Agua Fabrics will showcase its most exciting offerings to the cruise market. With the hopes of finding out more about the company’s origins and what to expect from Agua at #CSIE19, we spoke with one of the company’s directors, Josh Ralton.
Hi Josh, thanks for speaking with the team! Tell us about your current role at Agua Fabrics?
I am one of the company directors at Agua Fabrics, meaning I am responsible for all commercial and marketing activities including product development.
How did you get into the business?
I guess you could say that I was born into Agua. My great-grandfather started the business in the 1930s and we are very proud to now be a 4th generation family business. Suzanne, my mother, is the current MD of Agua and we are enjoying the continued challenge of pushing the company forward.
Can you tell us about a project you’ve been particularly proud of during your time with Agua Fabrics?
There are two projects that I am personally very proud of. They both involved us supplying several thousands of meters of fabric within just seven days. To be able to turn around that quantity of fabric in such a short period of time, and in turn help our customer, is not something that is often achieved in our industry. For one of those projects, we were also able to supply batch-specific MED certificates very quickly for the fabrics used, which shows that Agua is able to accommodate for any certification that might be required for a particular project.
We pride ourselves on understanding all the requirements for cruise ship interiors and we must stay at the forefront in the development and design of technical performance upholstery fabrics.
Are there any special considerations you must account for when supplying to and designing for the marine industry?
Firstly, and most importantly, we must be able to make the fabric collection compliant with IMO Fire Regulations. At Agua, we strive to produce on-trend and relevant fabric collections, and we understand these must look good while retaining the need for practicality. We pride ourselves on understanding all the requirements for cruise ship interiors and we must stay at the forefront in the development and design of technical performance upholstery fabrics.
More specifically, what do you have to account for when supplying fabrics to the marine industry versus hotels or other projects?
The main requirement is the need for IMO Fire Regulations. This is unique to the marine industry and a different set of fire regulations is required for other markets that we sell into. The wonderful thing with Agua is all our collections come IMO certified as standard, so it keeps it nice and simple when searching for an Agua fabric. Along with this, there is a need for fabrics to be very hard-wearing when supplying to the marine industry. Some of the environments onboard cruise ships are very demanding and our fabric collections are ideal for these settings. Finally, stock holding is key. Often you have to supply fabrics very quickly and as Agua hold stock of all our collections we are able to offer this to our marine customers.
What opportunities or challenges is Agua facing at present?
At present, I think there are countless opportunities for Agua. The cruise industry is booming and we will continue to develop the Agua brand in the market place. With several new collections being launched in 2019 targeted at cruise design I think we will continue to be used on a number of exciting projects in the coming years. We hold incredibly high levels of stock and I think this presents the opportunity to offer a very quick turnaround supplying fabrics via our global distribution chain.
It is wonderful to finally have a show dedicated to interior design within the global cruise industry.
Can you tell us about any current or future design trends in the world of cruise interiors?
Having spent some time in January visiting the interior designers in Miami, I have noticed a trend and desire for interesting yet practical collections. Velvet fabrics continue to be a favourite of designers in 2019 as well.
Finally, who are you looking to meet and what do you hope to achieve at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo 2019?
Everyone at Agua is excited for June to come around quickly. It is wonderful to finally have a show dedicated to interior design within the global cruise industry. The relevance is key to Agua and we look forward to meeting old friends and new at the show. We want to continue to make stronger connections with the interior design community worldwide along with furniture manufacturers. There is a lot of scope for the Agua brand within the cruise industry and we look forward to utilizing the show as a platform to expand.