• Cindy W. Hodnett

Contemporary design, demystified

Upholstery sources dispel myths about popular style

HIGH POINT - Seven out of 10 consumers incorporate contemporary styles into their décor, according to Furniture/Today and HGTV's Consumers Views Survey. In upholstered furniture, the style's market share is substantial in every category, from stationary sofas to home theater seating.
     Yet despite the popularity of contemporary furniture designs, there are misconceptions about the style. Manufacturers, fabric suppliers and retailers recently weighed in on some of the myths surrounding contemporary design, which we have grouped into three categories.

     Myth No. 1: Contemporary furniture is uncomfortable and not family-friendly.
     "The biggest misconception from both retailers and consumers is that contemporary furniture is expensive, uncomfortable and not durable," said Vincent Scocuzza, national sales manager for NicolettiCalia, an upholstery manufacturer based in Italy.
     "So far, the contemporary market has been a niche market serviced only by few very high-end Italian companies who were offering a minimalistic look, sometimes not appreciated or understood by consumers.
     "What we are doing is a little different; we are adapting the look to make the furniture more accessible to more people. To make the furniture more comfortable, we have kept the backs low, thus preserving the look, but we have added the ratchet system, which allows the consumer to decide when to sit more comfortably or when to make the furniture look more minimalistic."

Eurosace introduced its contemporary sofa line in January at the Las Vegas Market. Company representatives said the made-in-Spain line struck a chord with buyers.
"We sold over $100,000 of goods," said Alan Lerner, Eurosace's CEO. "We only decided to attend the show two weeks prior and were originally shooting to debut at High Point. We decided to launch early due to interest from vendors planning to attend the show."
Lerner said that the factory in Spain allows Eurosace to achieve a level of quality usually associated with high end contemporary at a lower price point than is available from Italian manufacturers.
"It's long been viewed that Italy has the best contemporary lines in the market," he said. "The downside to this is that many of them don't offer a more ‘relaxed' version of their models.

Natuzzi’s Bolero
Natuzzi’s Bolero sofa combines contemporary style and comfort.
Zicana’s new line of accent chairs featuring precious stones is described by company CEO Francesco Marasco as “New Age, sleek and simple.”
Zicana’s new line
Eurosace, a made-in-Spain contemporary brand, had a strong market in Las Vegas and featured sofas including the Napoli.

     "The innovative feature that led us to our manufacturer was the reclining mechanism you find in many of our models. This mechanism allows the seat cushion to extend out up to 18 inches to accommodate people of all sizes. This system can be motorized or manual and allows you to recline without flipping up a footrest. This not only added to the contemporary look and design of our sofas, but it is also more functional as it provides total support across the entire seat as it reclines," Lerner said.
     Brad Cates, senior vice president for Natuzzi Americas, said buyers are often surprised by the comfort of contemporary.
     "When I am in a store and working with consumers, they often have the impression that contemporary product is low, hard and uncomfortable," he said. "With Natuzzi, we show them that the product is very comfortable and very adaptable to their lifestyle."

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