“Eventually everything connects . . .” according to Charles and Ray Eames.
The fall of 2016 marked the 60th anniversary celebration of Charles and Ray Eames’ lounge chair design. It is nearly impossible to look around and not find some design element that was the work or influence of the Eames. When you see a stack of molded chairs, can you even imagine that there was a time before this curved plastic molded shape existed? Charles and Ray Eames are among the most prominent figures in the world of architecture and design who forced us to see and consider things entirely differently, oftentimes elaborating about something as simple as the number ten. “Powers of Ten”, was a short documentary film created by the Eames on seeing things differently within 10 seconds, 10 miles, across galaxies or within the human body in increments of ten. Watching it you’ll easily see that they imagined concepts and the world well ahead of their time. Charles and Ray Eames were not just a power couple of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, they were THE power couple of the 20th century, sensible visionaries who identified qualities worthy of their time and attention, and details that mattered in the making of a product.
If you have any awareness of Charles and Ray Eames, then your next thought goes to Herman Miller Furniture. In walking the halls of the Chicago Merchandise Mart during NeoCon,design eyes will no doubt be open for the subtle nuances as well as the obvious details of the Eames. There are endless other entities beyond Herman Miller who have found inspiration and have taken silent direction from the Eames work. What those elements are and why are they important in today’s time beyond the 60th anniversary of the upholstered lounge chair, are more important than you’d imagine. Those elements and details include things that are now so deeply a part of our world that we take them for granted. Molding plastic, wire and plywood veneer into beautiful curved shapes and the integration of ergonomic design in such a way that form and function morph into something uniquely elegant, are some of the ways that the Eames permanently changed our world.
We have been seeing a gradual but undeniable influx of mid century modern furnishings throughout the interior design and furniture industry for several years now. From the least expensive knock-offs of Eames molded plastic chairs at department stores like Target or Ikea to the better quality modern retailers like Design Within Reach, you’ll easily find evidence of the Eames’ legacy. Flipping through recent copies of HGTV Home magazine, Lonny Magazine and HOUZZ, the molded plastic, molded plywood and wire framed chairs, I can’t help but wonder if the designers who are selecting the furniture are choosing it for the fact that it’s tres chic or for its practical form and functional attributes that Charles or Ray originally envisioned? I think both perhaps. Some of the most interesting insights I’ve enjoyed knowing about Charles Eames is that he believed aesthetics could be a part of function and said “take your pleasure seriously”. Knowing this, we can all appreciate the ever-present Eames influence in the world around us. Each piece was obsessively studied and considered for our comfort, our pleasure and our appreciation of how it serves usl better than any other object could. Ray Eames believed that “things were not separate in our lives…just because you painted didn’t mean you didn’t were not interested in weaving…you simply would not separate things….whether it was history, music or pottery”. She studied abstract art which is not surprising in that each piece of the Eames designs have a sculptural appeal and feels as if it’s a piece of art. The two Eames mutually respected and admired one another as the great talent and design mind that they were. Charles Eames said “Anything I can do, Ray can do better.” Their own unique histories and viewpoints complemented the others’ and the result was as simple as combining “work and play” which was what they strived to do in their projects. It seems as if their work and play combination was nothing short of the alignment of the planets within the galaxy where all that they created had a lasting and meaningful impact.
DESIGN SPECTATOR: JOURNEY TO THE BIGGEST TRENDS IN 2017 The Surfaces Issue
In order to prepare for a journey, you must first know where you’ve been, where you are currently, as well as where you want to go. I love planning trips and anticipating all the various twists and turns that I might encounter so that I’m sufficiently packed and well-prepared. In thinking about 2017, it is not unlike a journey. The next big product or design idea is probably already in the development process and without doubt will emerge this market season.
Where we’ve been:
It goes without saying, the floor covering and design world have been saturated with grays, taupes, off-whites and visuals that imply “reclaimed”, whether it’s hardwood floors, resilient vinyl, porcelain tile, carpet or rugs. We’ve witnessed a shift of market dominance from soft to hard surface, the softening of soft goods, the pendulum shift back from carpet that’s “too soft”, explosion of anything that is labeled as “waterproof”, and the clear expectations of the consumer for products that “perform” underfoot while looking beautiful.
Where we are:
It’s been eight years since we’ve had a change in the presidential leadership of our country, and no matter what your politics are, the change always leads to movement in things that impact our industry. We are already seeing an upswing in the stock market, optimism in new home construction, increases in existing home sales, and the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates for the first time since 2008. All these factors are going to result into some noticable new ideas coming to life.
Where we are going:
While there are so many trends for 2017 we can cover, the most interesting are ten mega-trends that we’ll readily see in floor covering.
1) If you’ve noticed there’s been an influx of marble, especially cararra and calacatta marbles, then you’ve seen the influence of “understated luxury”. The marbled effects are going to continue to grow in resilient vinyls and even reproduced in porcelain tiles.
2) For the ever-growing love for “uncluttered living”, look for more and more clean lines, little to no visible wood grain or character. This will mean less and less of the hand-scraped, chatter-marked or knotty wood visuals.
3) While it may sound like a contradiction of #2, it’s entirely different and noteworthy. There’s a huge global or “travel inspired design” movement. This flooring influence will mean oversized geometric design motifs in rugs and carpet, more and more antique persian rugs, especially layered over jute, sisal or seagrass broadloom and hardwood flooring.
4) If you’ve seen HGTV, you’ve watched Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “Fixer Upper” show and their “Urban Farmhouse” look which is a blend of rustic, reclaimed, distressed paint treatments and wood everywhere.
5)“Japanese and mid-century modern” influences are creating a hybrid design style where you’ll find traditional and modern details and clean lines. Light and neutral hardwood floors, long and wide wood planks with zero character or gloss, and neutrals will keep things light.
6) The wood has migrated up from the floor to the walls and includes many of the wood trends from 2016 into 2017 like reclaimed gray barnwood and painted white or white washed ship lap boards, *another influence by the “Fixer Upper” designer.
7) The “Danish movement” is working its way through hard and soft surfaces. We’ve seen glimpses of this in one of Shaw’s newest porcelain tile styles, “Glee” that has the look of concrete embossed with wood grain. Plaster, chalky or matte finishes have been working their way into the interiors world gradually. Initially we saw introductions of “plastery white” vases and vessels at the various interior design and home furnishings shows in Europe and the US, matte black automotive paints in luxury sports cars, and then black in virtually every category one can imagine…so when you pair two or more rather significant trends, what do you get? A mega trend that takes flight and has longevity in the marketplace. Check out the following examples of this mega trend…
For more on the “matte” and “plaster” trend…
Check out my friends from HGTV Home Nancy Fire and HGTV Dream Home Designer Bryan Patrick Flynn on YouTube as they talk about Matte Black faucets in Delta’s showroom at KBIS https://youtu.be/4wW3OGoEA0U
Ties directly into the precursor trend of black stainless steel at KitchenAid as well as a little nod to LaCornue’s luxurious black ranges.
Take note of an unfamiliar term, “hygge”, a bulky cabled yarn found in throws. The bulky cabled yarns will be difficult to translate into broadloom carpets due to manufacturing and performance challenges but handmade rugs will be sourced from Denmark. Look for translations of the “knitted visuals” among chunkier tufted and woven loop pile carpets.
8) Vibrant jewel-tones in accessories for the home require a set of “new neutrals” beyond the gray and taupes of the past 10 years. Muted earth-toned shades of terracotta, camel and sand play nicely with the jewel-tones. These neutrals will be needed in backsplash subway tiles, large format porcelain floor tiles as well as resilient vinyls, hardwood planks and even laminates.
9) Blue, all shades of blue, is continuing to make its mark in homes. Painted kitchen cabinets in lacquered navy blue, gray-blue and robin’s egg blue are becoming more and more popular after their color panache has been brought to life at Kitchen and Bath shows as well as in Designer Showhouses.
10) Last but certainly not least, the final mega-trend is “open living spaces” in the home. The ability for families to eat, cook, work and entertain in an open floor plan gives everyone the flexibility to adapt the purpose and use of any given space of the home. With an open floor plan, flooring must cross seamlessly from one area to another harmoniously. Designers, architects as well as design-savvy homeowners need to be able to find floor covering that is long, wide and visually open. Patterned carpets that will be most successful will look “woven” or have patterns that are wide open, large in scale with little to no contrast. Designers of open living spaces allow the homeowners the opportunity to define spaces. For example, conversation areas need to have grouped seating that is clearly defined by rugs layered on gorgeous hardwood or natural stone floors. Traffic within the open layout home flows strategically according to the arrangement of furniture and flooring.
In summary, each of these ten megatrends offer homeowners an important solution and that’s that they give variety, the ability to change or adapt the way they express their personal style in the home.
It’s no secret that today’s marketplace is not what it used to be. You don’t have to go very far to see reminders that Dalton, Georgia was known as the “Bedspread Capital of the Universe” as cited in local newspapers from 1940. Look at how far we’ve come. We’ve evolved through wartime rations of nylon and fuel, the economic uncertainty of a few recessions, and thanks to so many entrepreneurs who believe in Dalton as something “special”, it has not only survived, it has emerged as the floor covering capital of the world that it is today and is filled with some of the most innovative companies in the world and has attracted some of the greatest design talents from around the world as a result. As both a native Daltonian and former director of styling, I can’t help but feel the excitement in the air as new skus are being finalized. You can almost feel the ground vibrating with the hum of the hundreds of tufting machines as they run new greige for upcoming introductions. With most of the big named manufacturers being located within a 20 mile radius of Dalton, I am taking advantage of my insider’s knowledge and enjoying some “behind the scenes” tours to get a sense of what’s just around the bend in floor covering.
This past week I spent some time looking behind closed doors of Shaw Floors and Mohawk at what’s new and exciting in their world of design, both in carpet and hard surfaces. Naturally, I can’t talk about the exact nature of the prototypes but what I can talk about are very successful 2016 styles which are catalysts for the next round of styles. According to Nicki Rayburn, Shaw’s Director of Public Relations & Communications and Deborah Houston, Creative Director, at Shaw and industry wide, there’s been a deliberate shift towards any flooring that fits into a casual lifestyle. Nubby, chunky loops and barber-poled tweeds create visual dimensions in carpet styles like “Nautique” and “Dunes” that are also very forgiving for busy homeowners. Large scale patterns continue to move onto the scene as many consumers are opting for room size rugs that can be sourced easily in programs like Shaw’s Cut-A-Rug Collection. Based on the continuing success of Shaw’s Caress Patterns, there are even more of the well-styled ornamental geometrics. Don’t be surprised to see big dense florals that harken back to the 80’s and time-worn distressed patterns as well.
Brittney Stanley, one of Mohawk’s residential designers, stated that “although almost everyone is still all about gray, they are seeing the changes in colors happening almost instantly. Grays have become warmer and their 2016 palettes are chock full of their newest neutral called greige.” *Greige is the term used for tufted and unbacked carpet fabric.
“Greige is what we consider the perfect neutral. It is the most versatile neutral which works with gray, tan or taupe.”
2017 Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year – Poised Taupe
Taken from our 2017 colormix™ forecast – our commercial neutrals showcase the best of 2017, anchored by our . . .
http://www.sherwin-williams.com/painting-contractors/color/ . . .
As far as pattern trends go, Mohawk is enjoying a great deal of success with its record-breaking 2015 style “Sculptured Touch” from Aladdin and another top selling pattern “Artistic Charm” from Karastan. Each style is a tufted “linen strie” tonal pattern and the most recent launch “Artistic Charm” has owned the #1 position in sales ranking since samples went out in March or April. Beyond patterns the industry has certainly been enjoying widespread success in flecks and tweeds at all price points. The dated “spotty” flecks of the nea-shag friezes are gone and have been made to feel new and balanced with the smoother textures with near-100% space dye coverage in grays, taupes and browns. Brittney Stanley of Mohawk cited Karastan’s “Rustic Revival” and “Softly Elegant I & II” from Aladdin as perfect examples of what is selling well in this visual.
Both the Shaw and Mohawk design teams share similar approaches to market research for overarching themes and inspiration. They participate in trend forecasting organizations, in Color Marketing Group as well as attend markets and shows for inspiration. Mohawk’s Brittney Stanley said “Being able to attend Surfaces and see how well the dealers liked the new products and colors definitely made a big difference in her approach to new colors”. Typically at the end of each year, past years’ better color palettes are scrutinized, sales by color data is generated, the designers then create new trend boards according to their color families, and they pull from those color palettes throughout the coming year of development.
Shaw’s Deborah Houston said that the influence of “Urban Farmhouse design” sparked by personalities like HGTV’s Fixer Upper designer Joanna Gaines has been a very strong one. https://magnoliamarket.com/blog/. Beyond the urban farm house design influence, consumers’ are looking for ways to save their already limited time so that they can enjoy life. Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” has been on the New York Times best seller list and has been so successful that the author’s name has become a verb. People all over the country are now “Kondoe-ing” their closets due to this need to simplify and optimize how we live. http://tidyingup.com
Consumers are today much more interested in and willing than in years past to take a chance on color and pattern according to Nicki Rayburn. Rayburn said they’ve witnessed online an uptick in interest in products which are both colorful and patterned. Speaking of color, it’s noteworthy that Shaw’s most recent “Colors of the Year” have been neutrals, this year being “White Hot” White hot board.rtfd . The only hint that was given about the soon to be released 2017 COTY is that it will definitely be a colorful color.
The migration in discussion from carpet to hard surface was seamless in that they all share similarly-hued color palettes which allow consumers the ability to make flooring selections that fit harmoniously into one interior effortlessly. Katie Ford, Shaw’s Hard Surface Marketing Manager walked me through 2016’s offerings in wood, vinyl, tile and laminate. The variety of visuals that I saw are a continuation of trends that, while they are not new, they are still selling well. Adjectives like “washed, distressed, rustic, industrial, and highlighted are among the words that describe each of the hard surface categories, and in vinyl, porcelain, ceramic, and laminate, the look of wood is still quite prevalent. Case in point is a porcelain tile style by Shaw named “Glee” which features an industrial “poured concrete in barn wood” aesthetic and represents a niche-look in today’s interiors. “Glee” can be installed in a herringbone pattern and includes a rhomboid shape as well as a listello trim. While it is definitely a wood look, it’s been taken one or two steps further in something new that offers homeowners something fresh while still not being too far outside their budgetary comfort zones.
There were endless iterations of barnwood, hand-scraped, reclaimed, cerused, chiseled, wire-brushed and sawn face planks in the offerings. Epic Plus includes new introductions with an innovation that alleviates the moisture issues within the builder channel with its “stabilitech core”. New styles are “Freemont Hickory”, “Ocala”, “Coral Springs and “Riverstone”. I can squint my eyes and still see a taupe influence over many of the new colors but the move towards more “natural” looks, low to zero gloss UV finishes give the look of a high-maintenance “oil-rubbed” finish, without the hardwork.
There was a great deal of excitement around one of Shaw’s newest “Floorte” vinyl introductions that is about to make a mid year appearance. “Alto Mix Plank” is an 8” x 72” format and according to Katie Ford, “Floorte’s Alto Mix Plank is all about the bevel” so much so that the marketing team is using “bevelish puns” on their samples going out this fall.
If Dalton was once a bedspread industry that turned into a carpet industry, it’s now quickly turned into a hard surfaces industry which is layered and sprinkled with carpet strategically. I believe we will always have a need for carpet and for so many wonderful reasons…it’s soft, it’s quiet, it’s a great value and it’s far more comfortable to sit on than practically anything else. I can’t wait to see the Dalton of our future generations and have hope that this very special industry is still growing, offering great careers and incomes for the families of the future.