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A Day in the Life: Scott Kravet

Scott Kravet carries on his family’s legacy by scouring the globe for design inspiration, then watching it take on a whole new life

Written and produced by Tori Mellott

Scott Kravet has been described as the Indiana Jones of the fabric world—bouncing from continent to continent, combing the world for rare documents and antique textiles to fortify Kravet Inc.’s already impressive archive. Just like Spielberg’s Indy, Scott gets into all sorts of jaw-dropping situations.

He’s purchased truckloads of exotic fabrics—stowed in the attic of a sixth-generation mill in France—from a guy who speaks 16 languages. He’s found himself in a bunker in Budapest with Coptic fabrics dating from the third century. He’s relentless in his passion for fabric—abroad and at home. He moves lithely among the company’s Kravet, Brunschwig & Fils, and Lee Jofa brands—and holds the final say on every design. Intense? Yes. And this textile adventurer is up to the task.

8 am From the minute we meet up with Scott at Kravet’s headquarters in Bethpage, New York, it’s go-go-go.

Originated by Judith Straeten, Brunschwig & Fils’ archivist and curator for nearly 30 years, a card catalog system akin to the Dewey Decimal System documents fabrics. It’s still used today.

Multitasking like a parent of quadruplets, Scott bustles around HQ. As we zigzag down long corridors that connect offices, conference rooms, and the company cafeteria, Scott tells the story of how in 1918 his great-grandfather, a tailor from Russia, started the family business—now celebrating its 100th year. We turn a corner and stop in front of an unassuming white door. Enthusiastically, Scott asks, “OK, are you ready?”

We’ve reached Kravet’s magnificent textile archive, used both to reproduce historic motifs and to inspire new designs.

We lose track of the hours inside this textile lover’s version of a candy shop as Scott encourages us to open drawers and cabinets brimming with archival documents.

He pulls out ancient textiles and urges us to touch these delicate treasures, to experience their rare beauty.

11 am We pile in the car, bound for Manhattan. True to Scott style, though, we take an intriguing detour through the Nassau County Art Museum, where his mother was a longtime docent.

11:30 am We hop on I-495 to the city, grab a hot dog on the fly, and finish munching just as we pull up to the Kravet design studio on West 21st Street. It’s time for a tour of the new collections. Scott explains the nuances of each brand that lives under the Kravet umbrella.

“Lee Jofa is English in heritage and rooted in tradition, but we also offer the Groundworks division, a contemporary side featuring Kelly Wearstler, Hunt Slonem, and Thomas O’Brien,” he says. “The Lee Jofa aesthetic is more akin to an American palette. And Brunschwig—its archives are by far my favorite. They bring a world-class dimension so deep, historic, and truly Francophilic.”

In addition to the fabrics,  Scott says, the company’s collaborators set Kravet apart. “They bring us true originality,” he says. “For example, Barbara Barry watercolors her images while traveling the world, and in turn, we reinterpret those creations into textiles. That’s unique.”

Scott takes a look at Kravet’s new Greenwich collection.

3:45 pm We buzz uptown to the Lee Jofa and Brunschwig showroom. 

Scott chats with Brunschwig & Fils Design Director Danielle St. George about the Brunschwig & Fils Cevennes collection.

Scott pokes his head into the sample room to check on the unsung heroes of the operation. “If it weren’t for these guys, the designers wouldn’t get their samples,” he says.

5 pm Scott has to zip back to Long Island to attend a family function, but there’s time for a quick stop at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse.

He’s taken with Philip Mitchell’s living room—and points to its plethora of Lee Jofa fabrics and trims. 

There’s time for just one last question as he whizzes out the door: What keeps this dynamo so passionate about his job, so enthralled with fine fabrics? “Every day I collaborate with different studios and different personalities,” he says. “That’s what keeps it exciting.”

And with a wave, he’s off once again, headed for a new adventure.

Photography: Lesley Unruh