In the 1930s, the London Underground referred to the potentially nauseating effect of a loudly designed fabric on a seat in a moving subway car as “dazzle.” Even if you haven’t felt the uncontrollable urge to vomit from the sight of a wild seat pattern, you have an idea of which ones have such potential.
It can’t be easy creating a good textile for public transit. Bus, train, and subway seats must do far more than look attractive. They have to stay fresh-looking as thousands of people sit on them daily, all the while trying to deter or mask the attentions of vandals. With all these boxes to tick, it’s no wonder that so many of the fabrics used on public transit are, quite frankly, pretty damned weird. Often the textiles chosen—usually, but not exclusively moquette—have an eye-grating brightness and busyness that would make the average person faint (or at least laugh) if they saw the same pattern used for a shirt or curtains.