• Cindy W. Hodnett

Upholstery dares to take chances

HIGH POINT - Many showrooms at market this spring are proving that manufacturers are ready to go where they haven't been in a few years.
     From a fabric palette that includes everything from vintage-inspired prints and electric hues to new customization programs and a variety of ship options, upholstery suppliers are upbeat and excited about the market, and their positive outlook is shining through on the floor via daring showstopper pieces.
     One of the must-see market showstoppers is Parker Southern's Longhorn sofa. Lodge meets high fashion in this piece with embossed turquoise leather details, longhorn front arms and a skull accent on the back. The piece retails for $7,899.
     "This is an extension of our line as we have always had leathers and fabrics that lean to the western/cowboy styling," said Kim McRee, marketing director. "This item is definitely a niche that can attract the buyer for a lodge home or ranch out west."
     Another showstopper is Capri, Dorya's navy blue lacquered sofa that retails for about $12,968.
     "This is an extension of our Contemporain collection," said Megan Perry Yorgancioglu, creative director. "It fills the need for customers looking for a unique wood-framed sofa and can be done in any of our 20 lacquered finishes. It is a formal, yet functional and transitional piece."
     Pearson is showing customized upholstery pieces along with its standard upholstery line.
     "Our heritage is as a custom upholstery line," said Jennifer McConnell, vice president of design. "Pearson upholstered pieces have always been available in any of our finishes, fabrics or in a customer's own material (COM), and we have traditionally offered a wealth of trim, cushion filler and length, skirt and feet options. In recent years, we have received far more requests for truly oneoff pieces."
     Kincaid's focus for spring market is "more than you think." Company officials said the new Studio Select upholstered collection has been created on a smaller scale and is ideal for smaller living spaces. Kincaid is also expanding its line of Sunbrella fabrics.
     "Our retailers who have adopted the Sunbrella program are reporting great results," said Max Dyer, vice president of marketing. "Consumers are looking for easycare lifestyles, and with the new Sunbrella styling, they can have the aesthetic they want and not have to worry about messy adults, active kid or pets."
     Broyhill is adding seven stationary pieces, including Milo, a large, modern sectional.
     Norwalk's Charlotte sofa has deep T-shaped seat cushions, modified scooped track arms and tapered wood legs accompanied by two fulllength lumbar pillows for $1,899.

Younger Furniture has expanded the Avenue 62 collection to include new pieces like the Nico sofa, Simon chair and Ida ottoman.
Younger Furniture
One of Norwalk’s
One of Norwalk’s introductions is the Charlotte sofa with a simple profile and vibrant nod to spring’s pink/ berry color trend.

     "The Charlotte is an extension of our product line and gives buyers an elegant, fashion- forward sofa with luxurious comfort," said Reyna Moore, vice president of marketing and merchandising. "All you have to do is sit on this sofa and you can see that it has a winning combination of style and comfort."
     Henredon's Serpentine sofa is a showstopper that works in formal settings as well as sophisticated casual areas. It starts at $5,600.
     "Buyers are eager for upholstered pieces with elegant shapes in smaller scale and proportion, while still maintaining the clean lines," said Marketing Director Jane Bender. "The Serpentine sofa is exciting because of the scale and unique shape of the piece. The sweeping lines of the sofa call to mind the dramatic and sinuous forms of the 1930s, and it is as beautiful from the back as it is from the front."
     Palliser's showstopper is not an individual item, but more of a buying and selling concept, according to Marketing Manager Jessica Smithson.
     "With over 200 styles and more than 300 cover options, the path to making buying decisions and placing great products on retail floors is not always easy to travel," Smithson said. "Large showroom presentations can sometimes look like a sea of furniture, and it becomes hard to focus in on the story that needs to be told for a particular program.

Parker Southern’s Longhorn sofa showcases lodge style mixed with runway fashion and retails for $7,899.
Parker Southern’s
Mayo’s 836 chaise
Mayo’s 836 chaise pays homage to the continued popularity of animal prints. It’s shown in Pegbundy fabric from Victor and Soave from Pampa.

     "What we've done is lay out our showroom in a way that presents our extensive product line and multitude of simplified, merchandised programs into segmented ‘shops.' Each program is presented in a way that allows visitors to feel that they have moved into a space that tells a different story from the last. The work, time and energy of pulling styles together in a way that makes sense to a sales associate and consumer are done," she said.
     Massoud's creative director has created several market standouts. A sofa covered with striped Maya Crabapple fabric addresses a continued demand for green. Two settees - a must-have item for every retail floor - offer casual and new traditional style.
     A French Louis XVI settee is shown in an oversized botanical design with yellow, green, purple and blue hues and has a suggested retail of $2,199. The 2221 settee offers a multihued ikat pattern in peacock blue and linden green and a more casual style. The suggested retail is $1,899.
     Sharooz is introducing the Elysee sofa with a new finish and fabric. With suggested retail of $14,575, the Elysee is definitely high-end, as well as an intriguing mix of classic and modern.
     "This is a beautiful transitional design, but made in our medium Cast Acrylic, which is a modern medium," said Parisa Niaki, national sales executive. "The arms on this design are really unique, and the frame is done with acrylic and not mixed with any other material. The design is an inspiration from a classic French piece, but the back of the sofa is a totally original design, and there is a lot of detailed work."
     Michael Thomas and Miles Talbott are adding to the Joe Ruggerio collection. There are several styles in the "Joe" line, and a large two-piece sectional starts at $4,000 retail.
     "The designs are geared toward an audience that appreciates clean lines and vibrant fabrics," said President George Jordan. "All of the fabrics are Sunbrella, and the collection addresses those accounts that want clean, sophisticated upholstery that is easy to clean and care for. Plus, the use of brighter colors is what people are asking for and this collection has it."

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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