Photo above: When you're in the "Home Furnishing Capital of the World" you will run into the World's Largest Chest of Drawers. Built in the 1920's by the High Point Chamber of Commerce.
Interior and product designers, color specialists and forecasters provide an insider’s guide to the most important trends in color and style High Point Market, which is taking place this week in North Carolina. High Point is one of the largest home furnishings trade shows in the U.S. attended by retailers, designers and editors.
The High Point Market Authority's annual Spring Fashion Report features insights from top interior and product designers, color specialists and trend forecasters.
According to the report, the Spring 2010 palette is bright, energizing everything from accessories to upholstery. “We all know that the Pantone color of the year is bright turquoise,” says Catherine Smoak, principal, Jigsaw Solutions. “Strong, intense blues like peacock, teal and royal were predominant at the Oscars. It’s almost like people are saying, ‘I’m tired of standing back; I’m going to make a statement!’ ”
“We expect to see brighter colors in general this Spring, simply because they are happier,” says Erin Davis, designer at Global Views. “It’s the lipstick theory. In difficult times a woman will buy a bright red lipstick because it’s an inexpensive way to punch up her look. Buying something small and colorful and fun for a room provides the same kind of lift.”
“I think when retailers over-react to times of challenge they go safe,” says Caroline Hipple, chief energy officer, HB2 Resources, “so consumers look around now and see a sea of brown and beige. There’s a way to use color to infuse some spirit, some life and some energy, and our job as merchants—wholesale and retail—is to teach people how to put texture and color together to enliven and uplift their spirits.”
Hipple is helping upholstered resource Norwalk Furniture inject some life and energy into their color selections this Spring, by taking a mix-and-match approach. “In each of five palettes, we’ll have a great chenille for example, a couple of great weights of linen, a great leather color, a great ultra-suede, an affordable velvet and a more luxurious velvet, with three to four shades within each palette.”
Also on the boards at Norwalk this Market, Designer Candace Olson is unveiling six new upholstered furniture collections, highlighted by two strong color statements: “a wonderful cognac fawn with a peacock teal mist, and then what we refer to as the play of light, a very usable graphite story accented with black and gold.”
The report names "Selective Indulgence" as another trend, which is the idea of acquiring beautiful things. “I think with everything going on in the world, people feel unsettled,” Smoak says. “While I’m not a fan of the term cocooning,’ we are seeing a retreat into the home and with that I’m sensing a return to elegance, and civility, really.”
After a few years of economic turmoil, consumers, it seems, are yearning for something a little more special. “Obviously, budget is a consideration,” relates Rachel Ashwell, founder of the iconic Shabby Chic® brand, who is launching a new line of licensed home furnishings products this Market at Guildmaster and Miles Talbott. “People have gotten used to spending differently, in a more respectful way, and I do think that they are looking for long-lasting things. Fads are not going to have a big future in the home furnishings industry.”
“There seems to be a growing appreciation for having something of quality, and something beautiful to look at,” agrees Barbara Plott, president of Added Oomph, who specializes in European antiques and has filled her showroom in High Point this season with garden urns and statuary, and grand architectural elements such as chateau doors from the early 1800s. “In buying antiques, the appeal for some is the sense of history in the pieces.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to some newer furniture designs, “people are getting frustrated with the fact that so much production has moved to the East, and overall product quality has been lost,” remarks Megan Yorgancioglu, creative director at Dorya, a high-end interiors brand that produces fine furniture entirely by hand and is showing for the first time at the High Point Market this Spring. “There are so few companies left that are truly hand-made. Something rare has been lost in the world.”
“It’s this whole idea of objects that are disposable, made from computer-generated plastic materials that don’t require hand craftsmanship, hard work and incredible skill to produce,” notes acclaimed furniture expert Leslie Keno, who with his twin brother Leigh, is introducing a furniture collection based on the brothers’ love of antiques and vintage modern furniture at Theodore Alexander.
“There’s a yearning now for having pieces in the home that will be heirlooms some day, pieces you can pass on to future generations,” says Leigh Keno.
Acclaimed Southern architect Bobby McAlpine is reinterpreting and redefining traditional English antique designs to expand the McAlpine Home Collection of case goods and home accents this Market. Designed for MacRae and showcased alongside McAlpine Home Collection upholstery pieces in the Lee Industries showroom, McAlpine’s new line includes highboys, consoles, wing chairs, chests, desks and dining tables. “The collection has definite historical reference and reverence—and irreverence in execution,” McAlpine says. “These are ‘new antiques,’ not your grandmother’s, but yours—and your great grandchildren’s.”
In line with a sense of history, a third trend at market is Authenticity and pieces that have a story to tell. “I think the times have really taught us to think about what’s authentic in our own lives, and what really matters,” Hipple says. “For me, I’ve been a fan of wabi-sabi, which is the Japanese aesthetic of the beauty of imperfection. Give me something that has a story.”
Authenticity, Hipple believes, is part of the appeal of the reclaimed woods she works with at Turning House, a company that made its Market debut last year and will unveil sixty new designs this Spring. To produce the line, Turning House uses beams and flooring from buildings built prior to 1945 in the industrial South. “We know exactly where the wood came from, whether the Landis Mill in Landis, N.C., a tobacco warehouse in Greensboro, N.C., or a distillery in Kentucky,” Hipple says. “This is old growth wood that was up to 200 or 300 years old when it was cut down.
“In this economy, more than anything, it’s very, very important to have an authentic, soul-filled, aspirational starting point,” explains Ashwell, who re-launched Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ flagship stores in Santa Monica, SoHo and London’s Notting Hill neighborhood in order to create a strong licensing program. “The stores,” she says, “are where I create the magic as a designer.”
“People really need to be inspired to take their wallet out,” agrees Jennifer Raboin, art director at Phoenix Art Group. “They don’t want to buy something that is average or commonplace. They are looking for something that is going to knock their socks off.”
The watchwords at Phoenix Art this Spring are “texture” and “dimension,” and a focus on “nature, natural, happy, bright, clean, clear and…recognizable motifs. “People have way too much to think about now. When they get home they want art to be happy, uplifting and spiritual, to bring them a little peace in an otherwise crazy, hectic day.”
Escape and relaxation is an important theme as well. “Long before the economy crashed, there was an urge to create a home experience that was a getaway,” says Kim Salmela, principle of Judy George International and lead designer for Hotel Maison, a new furniture collection inspired by luxury travel experiences. “People think ‘Why can’t life all the time be a little bit more luxurious, a little bit more glamorous, a little bit more stylish?’”
That in mind, Salmela set out to create a series of “experiences,” in bedroom, dining and living room furnishings one might experience in grand hotels. These include Metro Club (a modern masculine look inspired by the cool sophistication of an urban getaway), Hollywood Regency, Pan-Asian (think exotic woods, texture), Luxe Lodge (Aspen ski lodge meets African safari), Linen Hills (relaxed and beachy), and Villa Reale, a modern interpretation of classic European styling.
At Hooker Furniture this Spring, the idea is to take consumers on a journey of self-discovery with Melange, a 40-piece accent furniture collection merchandised around three design themes and presented in a multi-sensory shopping experience. “The themes—Modern/Classic, Pretty/Feminine and Eclectic/Multicultural—help the individual identify and define her own individual style,” explains Kim Shaver, director of marketing.
“Although the fashion world is known for its seasonal changes and quickly evolving trends, our goal with Melange (French for a mixture of incongruous elements) was to create a fresh look that was not trend-specific,” Shaver says. “The collection is inspired by apparel, housewares, art and jewelry, really everywhere but furniture in a very intentional way, and the result is something that is completely original and unique.”
In preparing for Spring, the design team at Schnadig Home also found their inspiration in travel, according to Melanie Dunn, creative director, and the results of forays into London to Pairs and Los Angeles, is a new collection—Outside In—that is “a little more European in nature. We came across a store in on a trip to London last summer with a fabulous, upscale cottage lifestyle and that was our inspiration for a new way of looking at cottage living.”
Along with a focus on creating finishes like weathered white and a gesso that Dunn calls “better than candy for designers,” the company is also unveiling a rusty metal finish with a celadon tone on several pieces that can truly be used indoors or out. With Caracole, a line developed specifically to speak to interior designers, the focus is also on creating furnishings meant to be used in more than one room.
“With Caracole, we don’t talk about dressers, or nightstands or credenzas,” Dunn explains. “We call it clothes storage. We think it’s time for a whole new way to look at furniture. Our industry has done a disservice to the consumer by saying, ‘This is a dresser,’ which means that Mrs. Jones is never going to take the piece out of her bedroom because we told her it was a dresser. But if her grandmother gives her all of her heirloom embroidered linens and she needs a piece like that in her dining room, calling it storage creates a purpose for her needs.”
The report is available for download via the following link: http://www.highpointmarket.org/pdf/Spring2010Trends.pdf.