Home office bucks conventional
Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, July 31, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Home office can be tricky these days.
Suppliers here report a category of increasingly versatile pieces that need either function, fashion or size to help them adapt to rooms not designated solely home office.
Anna Ogden, Four Hands creative director, says the idea of home office is becoming less rigid - sideboards and sofa tables it sells are being merchandised or used as desks.
Take, for example, the popular Irondale bookcase. The piece has a 12-inch-long shelf that allows it to serve double duty as a home office piece.
Ogden said the company began noticing office picking up about five years ago and started to address it with a more open-minded approach. Here at market, she said, the company's mix of contemporary styles allows retailers to see how the category can be shown in unexpected ways.
"We're trying to appeal to the less conventional side. People want something less predictable," Ogden said.
This Four Hands Irondale bookcase is a good example of a stylish crossover piece. It offers functional storage for books, but also a surface extended by 12 inches helping it to also serve as a desk.
She added that the company has about 50 office items in its line, most of which are crossover SKUs that can have other uses besides just a desk. Business has been good this week, she said, adding that the company continues to get requests from retailers to develop lifestyle galleries based on the look of the company's showroom at market - down to the music playing.
Companies like Classic Home also are responding to the need for stylish multi-functional pieces. Robert Soussana, vice president of furniture design, said that a long narrow dining table can lose the dining chairs, pick up a big funky chair and become a home office piece. A curio as a bookcase can be a home office piece and make a statement in a room, he said.
"It's not what you'd expect in home office, but it's more a reflection of yourself than a predetermined idea," Soussana said. "Making home office into what it could be is up to the individual."
In the category, dry rub, lime wash, rustic pine and aged oak finishes are all doing well at retail, Soussana said.
Classic Home officials report a busy market early in the week. With recent retail expansions in the news, it's also having success with a 3,000-square-foot lifestyle boutique concept introduced recently in its showroom that retailers can use as a format to help them set up the increasingly popular display format.
The boutique aims to give retailers an easy grasp of how to show in-stock goods. Dealers can even order sidewalls to help separate the displays, Soussana said.
Twin-Star's Tresanti line has a hit this week with a concept that takes a note from the Murphy bed - the classic bed that folds up into a wall to add more space to a room. The Murphy desk has a center door on pistons and pulls down slowly to make a desk.
A hidden drawer and built-in power strip also sit behind the pull-down door, creating added storage. It also has two three-prong outlets and two USB charging ports. Its bottom storage cabinet features a slide-out shelf for printers, and a file drawer with metal rack. The front scale of the piece is narrow and, overall, its silhouette is reminiscent of a home entertainment pier.
Retailers have been looking for multi-functional space-saving pieces like the Murphy. This unconventional desk has gotten the best response of this week's introductions, according to Brian Brigham, director of marketing and public relations.
Brigham added that another popular feature of home office pieces at this week's market are melamine tops since they've become so realistic and are commonly mistaken for real wood.
Walker Edison is reporting success here with drop-shippable goods, especially in the rustic reclaimed wood style. The style translates well to online consumers since it offers a fresh look at a promotional price point, according to Lance Ferguson, eastern regional sales manager.
Walker Edison is showing about five new home office pieces to help refresh its offerings in the category, Ferguson said. The company continues to have success reaching retailers wanting to enter online sales and who need suppliers with a breadth of experience in the category.
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