Twice yearly, like lemmings, we descend on High Point, North Carolina for the biannual furniture market; we being furniture retailers, e-tailers, designers, architects, sales reps and furniture showrooms. The population of this once-populous town, decimated by offshore production, virtually doubles, swelling from 100,000 to almost 200,000. It’s a real scene. We’re all sporting our market finery, proving we are with-it, on-it and oh-so relevant. But what we are really doing is seeking—seeking trends, directions, comfort and the answers to “what’s next?”
Here, straight from the market runway, the good, the bad, and the boho.
GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS
When I started in the furniture business almost 20 years ago, Vanguard Furniture actually had an entire section in its vast showroom for chairs that rocked and rolled. Then—pfftttt—motion was gone, nowhere to be found. Well, swivels, rockers, recliners and rock-swivels, are back. Big time. Once again showrooms are consecrating areas specifically for motion. And progress has been made. I mean, just go to the movies where you can recline all the way to supine. These are not your father’s La-Z-boys; think sleek contemporary and space saving. That’s right—the “wall hugger” or Wallaway recliners can be placed directly against the wall. Mounted on a track they move forward—innovative and yet still insanely comfortable. I welcome the redux. It makes dual convo-ing and TV-viewing a little more agreeable.
Macramé today: The boho trend of the ‘70s is having a retro revival. We saw texture in lots of iterations—rope, string, twine, twigs, sticks, vines. (I had flashbacks of early married life when I had another ‘70s icon, a wood light fixture from Conran’s; it was pretty great looking as almost everything from Conran’s was.) Today’s macramé-esque versions, whether literal or merely a nod to handcrafted, take various forms from tables, lights, lamps, room dividers ranging from hipster bohemian woven low slung chairs to the patently ridiculous cat’s cradle-like room divider.
Stuff, objects, collections were everywhere. I mean everywhere. Even in the sleekest of showrooms. And unlike Noah, things marched in three by three: three hanging lights, three vases, three wood bowls. It felt good and didn’t look overdone. Collections tended towards natural elements (see macramé) from insects to owls, to shells. Cut flowers were not in evidence, supplanted by branches, big and bold. That’s an easy-to-translate trend, particularly to shake up and sophisticate holiday arrangements.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
Art was oversized, overblown, most often in the form of photography with an emphasis on celebrities. I don’t know many Larchmonters who’d want a 4’ x 5’ Jagger over the mantle. Maybe, if he’s the baby daddy.
And then this happened: Instead of all-new furniture, all the time, out of nowhere, entire spaces were turned over to antiques and antique dealers. Déjà vu all over again. And the return to well-proportioned walnut dining chairs and soft brass bibelots was welcome. Personally, I can’t bear to look at another white brass, white nickel anything or regurgitated grey grey grey. Rather, I covet an interesting melange of thises and thats, eras and looks, new and old for my clients.
COLOR ME WOW
Blue and green were everywhere, in every intensity and hue. Blue and green are the most commonly perceived colors in nature: the sea and the sky. And they happen to look beautiful together, nature’s companions. Walls were lacquered indigo or teal—intense, rich mid-value tones. Other rooms and spaces were positively Ralph (Lauren, that is) with blue guncheck plaids partnered with denim ticking stripes. Emerald also stood out as a real gem—in lamps, fabrics, rugs, and even furniture.
Naïve, folk art-ish flowers bloomed across rugs, pillows and fabrics. While a refreshing change, I found the designs, for the most part, too primitive and clumsy for my art-snob tastes. I mean, no one really drew these; rather, some studio artist cut-and-pasted these in the name of design. It all felt vaguely Austrian to me. I could almost hear Heidi calling out, “grandfather, grandfather.”
Light fixtures and lamps galore were metal, metal, metal. While variations of the timeless pharmacy lamp were everywhere, the big surprise was the pole lamp, a standing lamp with multiple heads positioned up and down said pole. Remember those? I know my parents had one in the den behind a pair of Swedish modern chairs.
Lighting, like the rest of the market finds, was refreshing in that there seemed to be more range, more latitude, more forgiveness in the choices offered. There was not one single overwhelming dominating—domineering—trend. You know, none of those decorating moments where if you don’t have the exact right thing, you feel like a design failure. Rather the vibe was free to be, you and me. A ‘70s refrain that feels right, right now.