This time of year around International Elephants Day, I cannot help but look back at my first ever safari, a photo safari I might point out, I was reminded of the rich inspiration I got from the endless ways that “Safari” lifestyle impacts our world of both fashion and interiors.
We are all constantly looking for clothes that feel good, fit comfortably and are “classic” styles…that never wear out or go out of style. Banana Republic began their company in just that “fashion” and Ralph Lauren has certainly taken cues from the safari lifestyle, just in a more luxurious light. As I traveled for ten days throughout Eastern Africa and celebrated my then 11 year anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor, I absorbed ideas, colors, impressions for projects both “interior design” speaking as well as for product design, hardwood, carpet and rugs. We launched an entire collection at Shaw prior to my first Safari with patterns, colors and style names drawn directly from the African continent.
Feel free to look through these images and to see more, click to my Pinterest Boards “Safari Away”.
The Tanzania trip was so impactful to me on so many levels, I simply can’t wait to share more pics and impressions from our next adventure, Nairobi and the Rift Valley with my sweetheart husband Don. You can almost hear the musical soundtrack from Out of Africa already playing in the background. Stay tuned for more impressions of our East African adventures at www.EmilyMorrowHome.com
Floor Covering Weekly, Style & Design: “Wood is Good” http://www.floorcoveringweekly.com/main/style-design/wood-is-good-15876.aspx
A few years ago, I was invited to serve on a panel to judge final projects of senior interior design students, many of whom were directed to use sustainable materials.
While evaluating the projects, one student was reprimanded by the professor for not specifying “reclaimed” wood, bamboo or cork but rather a new North American hardwood floor. While I congratulated the student for choosing wood floors — it was responsibly procured from North American forests and made in the U.S.A. — the professor’s misinformed argument was that wood is not in plentiful supply. Here in the U.S., however, that is not true.
While there seems to be a basic understanding among consumers that hardwood can help increase a home’s value, like the professor, there remains a degree of confusion when it comes to some hardwood basics — such as the difference between engineered hardwood, solid hardwood, laminate or resilient as well as what makes one flooring type more sustainable than another. When responsibly harvested and procured, wood is indeed a sustainable choice. (For more information, visit the National Wood Flooring Association at nwfa.org and the Forestry Stewardship Council at us.fsc.org/en-us.)
While industry terms can often be too technical for consumers, the state-of-the-art technology now being used to create flooring is also causing some confusion — almost any surface can be made, for example, to look like wood, including laminate, vinyl and even tile.
What consumers do know is the look, feel and even the smell of hardwood is appealing and they admire the craftsmanship that has created beautiful interiors for centuries. Pictured below is a look at hardwood floors showcased in some of France’s most renowned buildings, such as Versailles.
If you have a chance to go to the link for Michael Green’s talk about building skyscrapers of wood at TED 2013, you’ll be rewarded. It’s a brief and inspiring talk that will leave you with a renewed love and appreciation for the beauty of wood as a building material.
We’ve talked a lot about the warmth, character and quality that wood brings to interiors, but what we haven’t considered enough is the fact that its’s truly good to use wood..good, as in good for us. In his TED talk, Michael Green says “Wood gives Mother Nature fingerprints in our buildings…and makes our buildings connect with us through nature”…”that it’s the only building material that is grown by the sun…and has an amazing capacity to store carbon.”
I hope many will find gratification in knowing that our North American forests are responsibly forested, are providing jobs and building materials that are not only beautiful but are so “good” in infinite ways. It’s no wonder we see consumers and designers drawn to all things wood or wood-inspired. Wood, it does us all good!
Looking through all the endless iterations of hardwood flooring, hardwood “looks” and all the porcelain tiles can cause one to get inspiration overload, especially if you’re looking at it from “outside” our industry. Even professional designers sometimes are overwhelmed by the variety and need some guidance to what’s hot. Let’s test your knowledge on the various designs in hardwood installations that are trending today.
For instance, did you know that the herringbone was used a far back as in Roman times as road pavers? I’ve referenced in previous design articles that the Palace of Versailles fueled my love and appreciation for the herringbone floors as it speaks to the timelessness and classic beauty of not only hardwood floors but also of herringbone hardwood floors. In researching for some of this material, my husband and in-house expert of hardwood flooring Don Finkell questioned what I meant by my claim that “herringbone” was stronger than other types of installation types. He, an architect, and I, an interior designer and part of a multigenerational family commercial construction business, decided this was a fair statement and did a deep dive into the reasons “why”.
Herringbone is a very stable installation type to use for hardwood floors (or road pavers) by design, wherein each of the sides push against the others at an angle and allow for expansion and contraction under weight or traffic. For example, the length of the wood “paver” was not overly large and easier to cut and work with than large planks for laborers or skilled artisans. There’s even more reason why herringbone and other parquetry was used. Practical reasons oftentimes explain the presence of certain things found in historic construction of homes and buildings. The angular installation of the herringbone allows for uneven subfloors or earthen road beds. It can undulate over the highs and lows with little concern for trip-hazards. Today and always, herringbone floors speaks to elegance or pattern play and always makes an interior feel extraordinary. We can find it and its “cousins” chevron and double herringbone all around us, in backsplash tiles, in textiles, inside fireplaces and more.
With that in mind, here we are with the low-down on all that and more. Hardwood flooring has never had so much “sex appeal”, and curb appeal, as it does today. Every type of material is mimicking the lovely “bois” pattern…and patterns that are similar to wood grain, such as zebra, chevron and watermarked, are very much in vogue in both interiors and fashion. We can’t help ourselves when it comes to zigs and zags in wood and fabric. Herringbone for instance goes back to ancient Egypt where woven twill fabrics were discovered (Herringbone: Dropping Knowledge | GQ ) and its impossible not to notice the herringbone wood in iconic architecture like The Palace at Versailles. Currently there are endless herringbone and chevron flooring designs in VCT, rigid core product, porcelain, laminate and of course hardwood itself. For the winning look, hardwood takes first place although the other look-alikes offer consumers a high-end look at a great price point.
Why are we seeing so many interior designers and homeowners install herringbone hardwood? It is an excellent way for designers to set their projects and portfolios apart from the other designers, and homeowners love the look. Herringbone hardwood flooring makes a large design statement of elegance and timelessness at first glance… it’s certainly not a “spec house” look found in all your neighborhood’s other homes. Furthermore, herringbone floors are just busy enough, especially in open floor plans, that they create depth, dimension and visual excitement. In small spaces like entries and foyers, the zig-zag design visually leads the eye across the threshold into the desired space. What professional designers and skilled installers know is this, herringbone flooring can add to the value of the home, and depending on the quality of the product itself and the direction of the installation, it can actually wear better longer due to the fact that the traffic is going over the strongest parts of the board.
In looking at all the most beautiful herringbone installations published in shelter and design magazines, it’s apparent that the installers are genuine artists in how they are using depths of color, lightness and darkness, and direction to make the installations fit the style of the interior. From a traditional English manor home, a Bel Air, California residence to a modern Scandinavian apartment, the floor’s metamorphosis is inspiring. The creative magic happens because you can intermix the planks and produce any style or pattern dependent upon your installer’s ability.
One important thing to make note of when looking at floors as a life-long career, you’ll see all levels of quality of flooring. Ask yourself why carpet got a bad wrap or why people covered the hardwood floors in the 70’s only to uncover them in the 90’s…American consumers love change and are far too quick to trash something that would be cherished and well-maintained in Europe, so we’re losing that sense of what “quality” flooring looks and feels like. We have, generally speaking, opted for cheaper imports simply for the sake of something new when we could have spent just a little more money and or time, invested in superior American-made hardwood flooring that can last a lifetime, or multiple lifetimes, if you so desire.
It’s easy to be captivated by the wide range of installation configurations in hardwood but, without doubt, the biggest story is in the herringbone and chevron. I’ve observed design influencers around the world being wooed by the opulence of well-made, well designed hardwood boards, oftentimes getting down on their knees to feel the wood grain’s texture, contoured edges and overall finish. Listening in on design professionals discussing how they could include hardwood boards in their design plan makes it all worthwhile and gives me hope that hardwood will never go out of style. The look, the feel, the sound and especially the scent of hardwood can’t be duplicated by any other type of flooring in the world.
“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.
As someone who considers myself “mature”, certainly well beyond believing in mythical creatures, the Easter bunny and magic tricks, I admittedly have become a believer in a kind of “magic”…not the kind that where rabbits come out of hats but a more refined kind of magic, the “magic” that happen when the greatest talents in the design world create something we all see and recognize as something beyond the ordinary. It takes that certain something, je ne sais quoi, to come up with a “winner” and ever more of that certain something to have a successfully selling product.
Over my twenty-something years of meeting and or collaborating with the very best in the design world, there’s one common thread that I have finally deduced that they all share. I’ve met some greats: Kevin Sharkey, as in Senior Vice President and Executive Editorial Director, Decorating, and Executive Creative Director, Merchandising for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.; Alexa Hampton, owner and designer of Mark Hampton Design, LLC and designer of a variety of licensed products under her own name; and those design talents you might not have heard of but certainly know their work in the many items we use daily without even thinking. Each one carry with them an experience and wisdom that comes from working both hard and smart, those who have been born with a natural gift, an ability or an eye, with a passion and a drive to create something beautiful. These are the “magicians” of our world, the artists, interior designers, fashion designers and product designers. They bring beauty out of nothing one can see with the naked eye and make it into something indispensible to us as consumers. Walking through the various expos, furniture and design shows as often as I do, I’ve seen with my own eyes the incredibly brilliant outcomes of the magic from some very talented design minds. Some very great products and designs are licensed under very well known names, assuring the consumers that the credibility and integrity of the designs are at their best ,while others were conceived by unnamed product designers for the licensees, and yet others are the result of companies who mine for design either by outside consultants or their own internal product design teams. Regardless of the method, the outcome is always exciting to see.
During this spring’s High Point Market, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with Alexander Julian as he spoke about his life’s work and career in designing fashion for menswear, womenswear as well as home furnishings, specifically Universal Furniture. Alex, as he is known by his friends and colleagues, said he always wanted to be an artist but he said his hands could not draw the colors and patterns that were in his head, so he turned to product design to explain it… it is commercial art…”art is my teacher”. The world between fashion and furnishings is interesting from his perspective. He said that he looks at many of the same things for inspiration, nature, art, texture, color, how it feels et cetera, “but the advantages of furniture is that it’s not gender specific, one must appeal to women and men simultaneously… How you feather your nest…fashion is the common denominator, it’s in the simple details, button for example” as he gestures towards the console table with tortoise shell button inspired pulls.
After all the questions and answers were over, I overheard one of the designers say as they were leaving the meeting room, “Wow, he actually didn’t tell us anything tangible about how he does what he does…but he certainly does it well. Do you think he knows, really what it is that he does, what it is that makes him special and sought after?” This question caused me to think about the mystery of the creative process and the genius of great design. It is something that can only be described as “magic”.
What does it take to make magic? It requires years of study, observation, trials as well as failures, and most importantly, it requires successes with the right combinations of people and partners. It also reminded me of the incredibly hardworking and talented design mavens who work for the companies that pay license fees to “celebrity designers”, many of whom I know personally and respect them greatly. Currey and Company as well as Universal Furniture are two that immediately come to mind. Janine Wagers, Creative Director at Universal Furniture, was frequently lauded by Alexander Julian for her amazing design work within their endlessly stunning vignettes and rooms at High Point. Currey and Company’s Brownlee Currey and Curtis Adams, Creative Director also showcased newest looks under the Bunny Williams name. All of their creations, collaboratively with Bunny Williams or solely by their own internal designers, the freshness and inspiration is immediately apparent to anyone who follows design.
Success comes from an idea that has been brought to life by lots of nurturing, endless support that has been reworked, tweaked, financially backed by someone who’s willing to go to bat for it, go the distance for it and most importantly that certain someone who’s willing to buy it, buy enough of it to make sense on a financial level. This seems so simple from afar. If you’ve seen the movie “Joy”, the story of the miracle mop by Joy Mangano, it’s the hollywood version of how someone took their great idea to market. In the floor covering, fashion or furniture industry, one can’t just operate in “onesie-twosie” sized successes, but regularly in bulk, rolls, pallets and truck loads in order to succeed and stay in business. We’re in exciting times with our improving economy, fewer regulations and less red tape for new businesses and entrepreneurs to be able to flourish. It’s hard to believe that the first the first generation of Apple’s iPhone was announced on January 9, 2007. Now we can’t imagine our lives without a smart phone. What new products, new categories will be see come to life in the next few years that we will soon wonder how we could ever live without?
In a world where consumers can find literally every option ever considered, where does a flooring professional start when trying to identify a style for your customer’s floor if they haven’t already done so?
As an interior designer who is now entering my fifth decade, I’ve fine-tuned some techniques that have helped clients discern what they like over the years, as well as create their very own “look.” This is essential for most people unless they’re one of those individuals who strives for a cookie-cutter interior. But more often than not, homeowners want to have a home that reflects who they are, as well as their passions and interests. Pulling together the “likes” into something that has a cohesive and fluid effect on the eyes is what makes design a challenge.
You may ask, “How do I begin?”
The first step is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works. Historically, I would ask clients to flip through the pages of magazines and catalogs and tear out or mark certain pages, noting the specifics of what they liked. The modern day approach to doing this same thing is utilized by millions of people, creating boards and collections online using apps such as Pinterest and HOUZZ.
These sites in particular provide your customer with the opportunity to see projects and homes from all around the world and share images with you as they look for flooring recommendations that match their style. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an idea board is worth a gazillion words, especially when trying to articulate a look or style that’s hard to define.
Today’s design styles are a hybrid mixture of various genres mixed and updated to the point of an all-new look. Take the midcentury modern look as an example. It has morphed into an updated livable version, having mass appeal to many demographic groups.
If you don’t have an eye for design yourself, once your client has curated the looks into idea boards, share them with someone you trust who has a great design eye to give you some feedback, including manufacturers and distributors you work with closely. It is beneficial to bring in someone with a fresh perspective at various points in the design process who can help you see more than just the floor, but also the whole picture of an interior. It might be that a certain color emerges in the mix, or a design motif, like palm leaves for example. Then you can begin to tie together the floor with your clients’ overall scheme.
Flooring is often the last decision people make when working on a renovation project, but my recommendation is that it be the first consideration. If you begin a project with a firm foundation, in this instance, a well-chosen floor, then all the other decisions become easier. Hardwood floors are still considered the “premium” flooring material even in a world of waterproof and wood lookalikes. Like a beautiful diamond among cubic zirconia, there’s nothing quite like the real thing – the look, the feel, and even the sound is unique as you walk across real hardwood floors.
Consider this: There are endless options of hardwood floors out there to choose from and what a customer brings into their home matters not only for the years of enjoyment and the value added to the home, but also in terms of keeping the materials “healthy” to live on. Sticking with responsibly sourced and responsibly made hardwood floors is the safest way to ensure you’re utilizing materials that not only meet, but exceed, any and all governmentally required standards.
Here are other suggestions that can be shared with your customers who look to you for advice on bringing their overall design plan to life:
Layering with a mixture of old and new objects is essential. None of these pieces have to be expensive, but should be chosen carefully and thoughtfully. Finding a “happiness meter” for the level of color and pattern used is a lot like preparing a delicious menu for dinner. You never want too many salty, spicy, or sweet things all at once, but rather a balanced variety of tastes that complement one another, not compete for the tastebuds’ pleasure. The human eye reads an interior in much the same way as we enjoy a good meal.
Don’t be afraid of color
Color is an effective and also an inexpensive way to guide the eye throughout an interior from the moment you walk in the door as well as the progression through to the innermost spaces. The color you wear the most is typically the color you feel the best in. Does the customer own an article of clothing that they absolutely love for its color or pattern? That can be a clue as to what color they should introduce as a starting point. Personally, I love black, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I have an all-black home. I do however use black lamp shades and accessories that are good for bringing in a little drama and definition to a space. I also have a favorite scarf with varying shades of blue that looks similar to some blue and white porcelain vases that I once had in storage. Suffice it to say, out of storage they came, and the blue and white porcelain pieces became the common thread from which my design scheme grew.
Find a balance
If the customer has some art or a collection of special items they would like to showcase, recommend keeping the walls as “quiet” as possible so they don’t overpower the space. Light gray, creamy off-white, or light taupe walls are perfect backdrops for bringing in furniture, art, or accessories that are bold either in color or pattern.
Don’t forget adjacent spaces
If there’s a specific upholstery or drapery fabric they plan on using, advise choosing two or three colors from that fabric, which can become the key colors for the adjacent spaces. The adjacent spaces matter a great deal in maintaining a sense of harmony between the rooms. How a customer feels as they transition from the foyer to the family room to the kitchen is important. Most homes feature an open floor plan and offer a particular challenge as to where and when the homeowner should transition to a different paint color. There are coordinating paint schemes offered by many of the nationally known paint companies that allow you to select colors that are specifically chosen to work beautifully together. If colors don’t work well together, even a design rookie can sense something is off, but when it’s right, you almost don’t notice anything; it just feels right.
Know your focal point
Identify the room’s focal point, the dominant area, perhaps architecturally, by placement of bold color or a large piece of furniture. It’s important to keep that in mind all along; don’t try to fight it, but use it as an advantage. We have minimalist as well as maximalist styles, battling for our attention. If you’re one who believes less is more, but bring something home from every special vacation as a memento, then you’re going to have a challenge in balancing your two conflicting worlds. There are endless ways to bring the two into harmony.
In closing, if the customer loves something enough, it’s possible to find a way to make it work. It’s all in the mixing, not in the matching, that makes a house a home.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design, LLC in Dalton, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at email@example.com.
“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.
It’s that time of year when all the color experts are huddling together making their final decisions, taking the last votes on what will be THE 2017 Color of the Year. It seems as if there are so many colors of the month, color alerts and colors of the year that it’s hard to discern which ones really are the most relevant.
Let’s start with some of the higher profile color experts…names and entities we all have heard of…Pantone, Color Marketing Group, Benjamin Moore Paint and Sherwin Williams paint…then zero in to the floor covering industry’s only color of the year to date, Shaw Floors.
The underlying purpose for designating any color of the year is to give a platform on which one can speak about the virtues, importance, and marketability of that particular color for a brand or product. With that in mind, I personally believe a COTY should be one that is currently running line and not something too far out in forecasting timeline that it looks or feels “lost” among the other colors in the marketplace at time of launch. It is difficult to explain why “Brand X” might choose a color to an “interiors” audience when it was most likely selected solely with “cosmetics” or “runway fashion” in mind. It’s another thing altogether when a company chooses gray, taupe or white because there’s been an abundance of those neutrals for years. There are still more Colors of the Year in taupe or gray because there are still so many new lines of furniture and accessories being launched at European and US furnishing markets which means they are still not only viable but quite salable as well.
For 2016, Pantone released two colors rather than just one, “Rose Quartz” and “Serenity” after years of their singular sensations, “Marsala” 2015, “Radiant Orchid” in 2014, “Emerald” in 2013, “Tangerine Tango” in 2012…and so on. The big names in paint like Benjamin Moore featured “Simply White” for their 2016 color and their pick in 2015 was “Guilford Green”, a silvery shade of sage. Sherwin Williams moved from their 2016 pick of “Alabaster,” and it’s “an understated and alluring hue of white,” according to Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing, to 2017 “Poised Taupe”…all basically neutral-neutrals.http://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/news/a6941/sherwin-williams-color-of-the-year-2017/.
Last year Sherwin-Williams chose “Alabaster” white as the Color of the Year and the 2017 winner is “Poised Taupe”. According to Sue Wadden, the director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams,”It’s like gray and brown had a baby”. http://www.today.com/home/pantone-spring-2017-colors-t103095
Shaw Floors began pronouncing their Color of the Year in fall of 2013 just in time for the 2014 January markets. The first was a very big color story then and now, “English Royal Navy”, and was featured on multiple shelter catalogs and publications as well as in the Shaw Floors Smart Home designs by Linda Woodrum interior designer for HGTV Smart Homes and Dream Homes. Shaw Floor’s choice in 2014 of “Navy Blue” was to signify the company’s long-standing “reliability, stability and commitment to remain a leader in fashion for the floors” which was critical then and now, then it was a world that was just healing from the recession. Since then, “Lady In Grey” was their choice for 2015 and White Hot for 2016…and our sources have stated that the 2017 choice will “definitely be colorful, not neutral”. I’m making some predictions as to what their new COTY will be: Either a mint green, leafy green or sea glass blue-green, all shown very prominently at High Point Spring 2016 in trend setting showrooms like Global Views showroom and Bungalow 5.
What if the Design Spectator selected a Color of the Year for 2017? What would it be and why? Based on my travels and research at all of the international home furnishing shows and interior design expos, it is without a doubt a more colorful world than it was a year ago…a world where one cannot live without turning the corner of any given storefront window or shelter catalog and seeing this hue…that hue is blue…and even more specifically, “Nouveau Bleu”. Inspired both by great works of art as well as the recent discovery of a new color, the first new blue in over 200 years, known by scientists as “YInMn Blue”, “Nouveau Bleu” is vibrant and can work with dozens of other color families beautifully. After touring a few of my favorite art museums, the Metropolitan, the Louvre and most recently The National Gallery Museum in DC, I found myself immediately drawn to the great works of art by Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne and Gaughin who worked with incredibly vivid colors, especially blue. The interiors and the fashion worlds certainly are finding inspiration within the same color palettes as the artists. When polled on “favorite colors” blue often tops the list and it’s no surprise why. It feels good the very split second you see it.
Without any reservations, the Design Spectator’s Color of the Year for 2017 is “Nouveau Bleu”…. Based on my travels and research at all of the international home furnishing shows and interior design expos, today is without a doubt a more colorful time in our world…a world where one cannot live without this hue…and that hue, “Nouveau Bleu” was inspired both by great works of art as well as the recent discovery of a new color, the first new blue in over 200 years, known by scientists as “YInMn Blue”. After several tours of my favorite art museums, the Metropolitan, the Louvre, The National Gallery Museum and Musee d’Orsay, I found myself immediately drawn to the great works of art by Van Gogh and many others who worked with incredibly vibrant shades of blue. The interiors world is certainly finding inspiration within the same color palettes as the artists Van Gogh, Gaughin, Renior among others
For the first time Pantone introduces two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as the PANTONE Color of the Year 2016. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.
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.