“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.
“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice.
This is one of my favorite quotes on color…and what a great way to explain how colors impact us, regardless of our age, gender, nationality or ever the era we live in. It’s been so clearly proven that since living creatures first walked the earth, color has always played a critical role in both our existence and survival. Over the years, we have evolved in our sophistication of the endless ways we can apply color in our daily lives, and now have a long view of hindsight to draw upon. Over the centuries, we can see patterns in the shifts and subtleties of color as it pertains to fashion and interiors. With these color patterns mapped out, we can better understand what trends are just around the corner and what is going to drive them.
Back in 2009 Benjamin Moore published some intriguing color research titled “Colors of the Centuries” which compared and contrasted the even and the odd numbered decades and the color patterns that developed over those decades. bm-colors-of-the-centuries . Their research begins in 1880 and shows how the colors of the roaring twenties were dramatically different from those of the depression and the decades that followed as well as the reasons why they were so different. For example in the 1940’s the color palette included cooler colors of blue and gray while the 50’s saw warmer colors come into vogue with high contrast black and white accents. The 60’s are so easy to imagine with the overly-vibrant tie-dyed psychedelic colors as well as the rebellious culture that drove those colors. From there, the 70’s moved into the earthy browns, golds, oranges and avocado greens. Think “Brady Bunch” colors which conjures up memories of shag carpets and wood paneled walls. While working in the floor covering industry, it has always been fascinating to find swatches of carpet from various decades. Practically everyone shares a fascination with the shifts and changes in both color and style regardless of whether or not they lived through it. Generations that followed like the millennials have only cable tv re-runs to be able to see what those eras looked like but have a genuine affinity for “mid century modern” and other “retro” design styles we are seeing thrive in today’s interiors and furniture markets.
Today’s marketplace is proving to be a very colorful one, although in gradual increments. While color trends generally can be found to begin in the european design shows like Maison et Objet and IMM, we can easily see the progression from there to our markets here in the USA. Look at the images from Missoni’s showroom three years ago and then find those same colors at our very own markets here in the US. Story boards featuring the gray finishes for furniture, fabric and flooring from three or four years ago are “spot on” for today’s US market. Accents of bright yellow, indigo blue or even shades of green and aqua are finding a home here as they’ve worked into the american tastes by way of various inspirational sources, be it social media, design blogs, websites and cable design shows. We don’t have to go far to tap into a rich source of color or design information simply by opening a fashion or shelter magazine. Oftentimes the very magazine cover of any given month can give immediate insights into the colors that are key colors for that particular season or year.
Now that we see we are safely out of the recession and in a healthy thriving market with the stock market surpassing a historical 20,000 mark, consumers are finding they can make their personal statements at home and in their wardrobes. Once safe “gray and navy blue” wardrobes are getting a huge host of companion colors. These accent colors comings and goings are thrilling to watch especially in observing how quickly trend upwards or spiral out of the picture. Those that have staying power you can be assured will look amazing with the still ever-present grays, taupes and mushrooms…as well as the newer desert neutrals of camel, golden sand, cinnamon, mocha and terracotta tan.
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.