“I forgot to ask you about your recent trip to the Atlanta Market Show,” my mother said to me on the phone the other night. “Was it depressing?” she inquired.
“Depressing?” I replied, knowing full well she was wondering about the attendance of the event, given the current state of our sluggish economy. “Mom, you are watching way too much television. And, you are falling for all those gloom and doom predictions!” I teased her.
While the crowds of designers and buyers were somewhat smaller, I am happy to report that the interior design business is not dead at all, but very much alive and evolving in ways influenced by our very economic situation. How so, you ask? Let me enlighten you.
Color is everywhere, and becoming more saturated on everything from upholstery fabrics, to area rugs, to accessories. I believe it is our psychological associations with color that influence this trend. Colors, as well as other motifs, coming into vogue, directly reflect our attitudes and needs of the changing times. Those beige-on-beige, mono-chromatic color schemes need a little added punch these days.
Shades of yellow, for example, were prevalent at the show. Mimosa, citron, and Dijon mustard all made appearances this season. These are colors we associate with sunshine, warmth, happiness, and nurturing. And who couldn’t use some nurturing in these tough times? Whether used sparingly as an accent color in a neutral colored décor or as the primary wall color of a room, the effect is cheerful and welcoming.
Yellow was not the only hue shining at the tradeshow. Brighter blues, such as azure and cobalt, made waves like the oceans, turning up on fabrics on bedding and glazes on pottery. Deep purples such as amethyst and aubergine jumped out of the gardens and onto tablewares and dining chair fabrics. Forget all those faded hydrangea pastels of yester-year, these stronger hues demand center stage attention, evoking a richness and grandeur. And pink tones, amped-up from grandma’s faded rose bouquet to more vibrant fuscias and corals, added punch to everything from accent pillows to upholstery.
Since many people may not be indulging in trips abroad as they used to, it is not stopping them from bringing home some of the flavor of faraway places. Exotic looks are hot, especially safari-themed animal patterns like ostrich or giraffe. At the semi-annual High Point Furniture Market this past October, designer Suzanne Kasler showcased her eponymous collection for Hickory Chair Furniture. Inspired by her travels to Africa, the fabrics featured native Ikat patterns, resplendent with bold geometric designs and rendered in glorious pinks and golds on natural ecru backgrounds. “People are looking for more interesting textiles. Ethnic is now a basic category, like modern.” says John Robshaw, textile designer, as quoted in Home Accessories Today magazine.
And, as before, we have seen an ever-growing trend of environmental consciousness for recycled and renewable resources. Bamboo fiber based fabrics abounded, from sheeting to duvets. Reclaimed wood was featured on casegoods both rustic and contemporary. One particularly interesting example I found at market was the “Found Twig Lamp” in the Palecek showroom which features bundled twigs from fallen trees for the base (Accacia, Mango, and Teak) crowned with a rectilinear shade made from woven raffia. It is truly a work of art, both sculptural and eco-friendly, and great-looking to boot. This lamp would work well in a rustic styled application as well as a very modern themed room.
So, despite the bleak predictions of gloom and doom for the economy, the interior design industry is combating this mood with an optimistic energy and a host of new, uplifting-themed products to make even the worst of times more enjoyable for us at home.