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!
“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.
While considering which of the beautiful trends are most likely to succeed in the American homes, it is an ideal time to examine what matters the most in the world of design. Let’s consider the “curator” or design team’s design direction, overall aesthetics, the inspiration, what demographic group that the design is targeting and more.
One intriguing company in particular, Aria, is owned by Hunt Broyhill who opened the High Point showroom doors for a sneak preview of the newest market introductions. His team’s eye for design is laser-focused on what American homeowners are seeking for their homes, comfort, quality, performance and seamless design styles that work with practically everything they already own. Aria is bucking the trend of outsourcing all their manufacturing by making their furniture frames in Conover, North Carolina and is a model that seems to be shifting back stateside industry-wide. As far as why they’re being examined for “Design Spectator”, their design approach is a good correlation to what I see going on in the floor covering industry, the cross merchandising of the various flooring categories and the careful curation of specific looks, making it easy for consumers to find a well-designed look and for designers to put together projects quickly. These are responses to what American homeowners are demanding and it’s far easier to tune into the pulse of the consumers when it’s all done stateside.
Aria, like several floor covering manufacturers, sells to retailers across the United States and internationally and naturally the retailers have a great deal of input. Hunt Broyhill said Aria’s target audience is “the highest end of lowest end and the lowest end of highest end”. When asked about Aria’s design direction, Broyhill said he has the placed the design decisions into the hands of Ms. Robin Hoff. Ms. Hoff cited that they’re aware of the purchasing power of both millenials and baby boomers, each “wanting comfort and price point with the fashion, in furnishings, the pillows and accents are the accessories to the outfit. Colors include minerals, taupes, mushrooms and natural linens. Sofas for example are almost always a basic neutral where the colors and patterns are what adds emotion to the sale.” When asked about customization, their response is that there’s no need for any customization per se since the process of choosing the components is very individualized while still manufacturing friendly.
First the sofa frame, then the arms, thirdly the fabric and finally the pillows. Key trends for Aria are in step with interiors universally, gray is still essential, rock-tumbled linens, casual damasks, clean lines and overall must be lower maintenance. Performance fabrics have come a long way and have taken back a large share of what was once held by leather upholstery. Sounding very much like carpet and hard surface programs like Shaw Floors’ “Life Happens” and “Pet Protect” to name a few. The designs are not compromised by the protection and performance that’s engineered into the product.
Aria (above) makes an impressive statement on their facade drawing in record numbers of buyers this spring market. Their styling for Americans tastes is spot on.
Focusing on the most salable upholstery frames that interchange fabric colors and patterns, featured Greek key motifs, buffalo watch plaids as well as some chic acrylic legs for the smallest hint of an uber trend.
Grays, all shades from lightest dove gray to darkest charcoals, are holding their own strongly at every price point and in every “design style”.
Basic frames can create instant drama depending on the details…mega-sized exposed nail head trim, faux-fur accent pillows, or metallicized fabrics for example.
Textural, nubby solid fabrics pair nicely with many of the accent pillows, flame stitched ikats, chevrons and even other solids we a different texture. Visual interest is key while forgiveness of everyday lifestyles is essential.
Driftwood gray framed chairs mix it up beautifully with shades of Navy Blues, Wedgewood blues and whites. There’s a sense of implied patriotism when you see the whites and blues in interiors.
Hunt Broyhill (above) of Hickory, NC explains how his team research consumers’ preferences. “It’s all about having the most important design details that are still attainable.”
For the floors, most of the newly purchased furnishings are going to be placed into home interiors with beautiful hardwood floors, softened by rugs. Today consumers who are tuned into social media and the news are asking for Made in the USA products and the dealers are responding. American-owned manufacturers are a necessity, whether it’s for flooring or furniture. Wood is one material that just about any demographic group desires, considering it a safe investment and way to increase their homes value.
Hardwood floors of wider widths and longer lengths were featured in multiple vignettes at this year’s High Point market such as this one (above) in Stanley Furniture.
For “To the trade” bespoke hardwood floors, contact Emily Finkell at EF Floors & Design or via the Design Spectator blogpost. Thank you!
Design Spectator Americana Inspired Author: Emily Morrow Finkell …
Floor Covering Weekly – June 27, 2016. Design Spectator Americana Inspired. Emily Morrow Finkell
AMERICAN STYLE & DESIGN
Have you ever thought about what makes your favorite things your “favorites”? Is it a worn pair of Levi’s blue jeans, a soft Pendleton wool blanket or maybe the beautiful timeworn hardwood floors in your home? Many of our cherished items are steeped in our history of American design.
In the spirit of Miranda Priestly of “The Devil Wears Prada”, American consumers are blithely unaware that the fashions, furnishings and flooring they bring into their homes were carefully researched, designed and created to look and feel a specific way, timed perfectly for today’s American homes. There are design professionals who travel year round in search of the most fashion forward colors, the best finishes and the savviest designs to inspire Mr. or Ms. American Consumer for the magical moment they decide to go shopping for new floors?
BELOW: Cerulean blue sweater by The Gap
BELOW: The blue velvet Louis IV chair by Theodore Alexander below was a favorite at this year’s High Point market due to its classic lines.
I have been invited to countries like China and Dubai to give presentations about “American design” over the past 25 years, offering snippets about iconic design eras in the U.S., shared details about the talents of Alexa Hampton, and HGTV’s Linda Woodrum, the entrepreneurship of Ralph Lauren and Trina Turk as they created lifestyle brands. I showed photos of homes from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and more.
Ralph Lauren is the epitome of American design. From home furnishings products (shown above) to apparel, the brand captures the homegrown style of the U.S.A.
Attendees often asked me how to create American design, how to recreate the interiors they saw on TV shows like “House of Cards”, “The Good Wife” or “Modern Family”. The answer, of course, is that what makes American design American cannot be bottled or explained — it’s in our DNA, it’s who we are.
“American lifestyle design” is best exemplified by Ralph Lauren who has nearly 300 stores around the world with tens of billions in sales. “What I do is about living,” he writes in Ralph Lauren, a profusely illustrated book celebrating his company’s 40th anniversary. “It’s about living the best life you can.” http://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/ralph-lauren-colorado-ranch-slideshow
American designers pull from all around them, either from modern trends or bygone eras, gathering elements from their travels around the world, and then knitting it together into something entirely new and exciting. The story of a new product’s design inspiration is just as important as the actual product in urging consumers to buy.
BELOW LEFT TO RIGHT – Fall 2010, Shaw Floors hosted Designer Visions Panel at New York D&D Building: Alexa Hampton, CEO Mark Hampton Design; Emily Morrow, Director of Color, Style & Design for Shaw Floors; Victor Ermoli SCAD Dean of Design; and Linda Woodrum, Interior Designer for HGTV’s Smart Home & Dream Home