• Cindy W. Hodnett

Leather upholstery designers embrace color

HIGH POINT - Ask any fashionista to tell you what represents the Rolls Royce of handbags and you'll probably hear Hermes mentioned. The venerable Parisian couture and accessories company has millions of loyal fans, and although the $12,000 price tag of a Birkin means it's not in the budget for most people, the craftsmanship of the leather is duly appreciated by those familiar with the brand.
     Leather fashion accessories are viewed as an investment by many consumers, as is leather furniture. And like the Hermes signature bags, leather upholstery has become a designer's darling, featuring a rainbow of colors and styles.
     At the spring High Point Market, leather upholstery was often featured in bright colors and in intriguing fabric- leather combinations. The color story corresponds with what many interior designers are espousing, and the fabric leather combinations provide form and function to retailers and ultimately, consumers.
     "I always say, ‘Use color to express yourself,'" said Karim Rashid, a luxury goods, furniture and lighting designer and interior architect. "Don't be afraid of that bright orange chair. Color is beautiful and it's all about self-expression. Be yourself.
     "Balance is definitely necessary," Rashid added. "Bright colors and neons are very popular right now, particularly when paired with neutrals or whites. I think the most important thing is to know what works for you."
     Along with color, the diversity of styles available in leather is attracting consumers. At April's Saloné del Mobile in Milan, Poltrona Frau introduced Letizia, a recreation of a 1954 armchair designed by Gastone Rinaldi; the Gran Torino, a modular sofa that combines leather and fabric; and the Mammy Blue, a leather, hide and beech wood armchair.
     In High Point, Bradington- Young's 522 Faye sofa in a turquoise leather and fabric combination was a strong placement. In addition to the distinctive design application, the combination offers cost advantages, according to company representative Kim Shaver.
     "This concept of combining fabric and leather on a piece met with huge success," Shaver said. "It is not only a style statement, but a strategic way to address the rising cost of leather as it requires less leather per item, yet still offers the cachet of leather. This particular sofa will be offered at retail in four to five preselected fabric-leather combinations."
     Eurosace made its High Point debut in April and reported strong order activity. The company offered a Made in Spain story with its European silhouettes.
     "We have a variety of new products that we will introduce which are aimed to retail under $3,000, but will still give the customers a variety of custom features and high quality," said Eurosace's Alan Lerner. "These models will be in Las Vegas and showcased at the October market in High Point.
     "The economic crisis in Spain has actually affected our company in many positive ways," he said. "It forced our factory to expand into other markets, including the U.S. Our factory has even recently decided to warehouse inventory stateside to compete with shorter lead times that large retailers require. Our goal is to produce fashion-forward designs that marry style and function using unexpected mechanisms in low, clean silhouettes."

Poltrona Frau
Poltrona Frau officials said the Letizia, a 1950s recreation, and Mammy Blue, a leather-hide combination, were hits with buyers at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
From Hancock & Moore, the Flirt chair showcases embossed croc leather in raspberry with silver nail head trim accents.
From Hancock & Moore,


Eurosace said response was strong to its Made in Spain upholstery in High Point. The company says it plans to introduce new models that will retail for less than $3,000.
Bradington-Young introduced the Faye sofa in turquoise leather and fabric at the April High Point Market.
Hancock & Moore pairs an abstract Baroque print with exposed wood and emerald green suede in the Serpentine chair.
Hancock & Moore
Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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