• Cindy W. Hodnett

Eclectic design popular in upholstery

ModerninfluencedModerninfluenced design continues to be strong in upholstery, as seen in the Julian Chichester showroom.
LAS VEGAS - In searching for a dominant look in upholstery at the Las Vegas Market, eclectic was electric ... and it was everywhere. And in terms of scale, less was more.
     There has never been a shortage of eccentricity in Las Vegas, but at the summer market "eclectic" - as in style - was expressed in full.
     Inspired by consumers turning away from matched sets, suppliers rolled the dice with a cornucopia of colors and frames, but hardly any saw the move as a gamble.
     "Ten years ago, when you were talking about eclectic furniture decor, you were talking about the high-end consumer," said Thomasville Vice President Rick Stroud. "Now, it has transcended all price points."
     In the Thomasville showroom, the Sorrento sofa, a distinctive interpretation of a deep blue and black fabric married to an updated frame, showcased the dramatic updated traditional element of eclectic. Nearby, reinvented Deco glamour highlighted a mix of transitional wood and metal accents against crisp, tailored upholstery.
     In the Christopher Guy showroom, a dramatic vignette with a pair of deep red velvet sofas against a black and- white backdrop stopped buyers in their tracks. The rich color story of the setting was at the opposite end of the spectrum from another space in the showroom that highlighted upholstery with pale lilac silk fabric paired with a brushed silver finish.
     Modern influence remained strong for many upholstery suppliers.
     Broyhill's product offerings include modern-inspired sofas, an expanded line of sectionals -many with sleek profiles- and a comprehensive assortment of accent chairs with modern lines. Company representatives said that accent chairs offer a common sense approach for reaching consumers who want to add updated modern pieces to their décor.
     "Dealers want the accents," said Stephen Feinberg, eastern sales manager for Broyhill. "We're mainstream America furniture, but you still have to have the ‘wow' factor on the retail floor."
     Lane's Dax chair, shown in olive leather as well as in an animal print in the showroom, highlighted one of the non-color design trends that is exploding in all product categories - an increased demand for smaller-scaled furniture.

Flexsteel’s Serena
showcases random spit-tack accents and
Flexsteel’s Serena sofa showcases random spit-tack accents and pays homage to craftsmanship.

     In a market seminar, Christopher J. Grubb, a designer with Arch Interiors Design Group, talked about the factors influencing the popularity of small-scale.
     "As baby boomers downsize, most find that their furniture is usually too big for the new place," Grubb said. "So multi functionality becomes very important. The den might have a sleeper sofa where before the consumer had a guest bedroom. A dining room table might double as a game table. The salesperson must be able to address multi functionality because customers often can't envision the potential."
     United Furniture Inds. presented multi functionality and convenience in a distinctive package at the company's Las Vegas showroom. A combination sofa/chaise was shown in a smaller scale, offering design flexibility as well as several seating options.
     "This model has a reversible chaise cushion, and the ‘bump' can be moved from one side to the other," said Greg Morgan, director of merchandising.
     The new smaller scale of many collections points to one of the major style movements for manufacturers. In showroom after showroom, the urban consumer is at the forefront of many product decisions.
     Designer Bobby Berk introduced his Scandinavian-inspired upholstery collection in a loft setting. Berk said that his goal with the collection was to present something "new and fresh" in a design aesthetic that is crisp, clean, modern and domestic.

Multiplo I from KelvinMultiplo I from Kelvin Giormani by Planum is one of the newest introductions to Planum’s leather line. This model has pleated back cushion details.

     He added that he is committed to providing a quality product for the consumer who has moved past the first-time furniture buyer stage.
     "This is not about flashy," Berk said. "The beauty is in the simplicity and the quality."
     Flexsteel paid homage to craftsmanship with several introductions. Large nail head trim was replaced with randomly spaced spit-tack accents on several upholstery pieces, and individual items from several collections were combined.
     "Our introductions offer an amalgam of transitional and traditional styling," said Lee Fautsch, senior vice president at Flexsteel. "We're also offering smaller scales. The type of homes being built in the U.S. is smaller in many markets, and that's a game changer. People are more conscious today of making sure that they aren't exaggerating their lifestyle, even in the furniture they buy."
     Salmon with gray, indigo with gold, ikats and suzani fabrics adorn an assortment of frames at Best Home Furnishings. As in several showrooms, channel back upholstery was featured in an updated and fresh statement on classic. On the opposite side of the style spectrum, Best showed the Beast recliner in camouflage fabric.
     "Duck Dynasty is the number one cable-rated show, and Phil, one of the key people on the show, has this same recliner in his living room," said Best's Eric Vollmer. "The Beast is a big man's recliner and will easily support a 6- foot-8 guy."

The Beast by Best Home Furnishings, as seen on the TV show “Duck Dynasty,” can accommodate a 6-foot-8 consumer.
The Beast by Best
This settee at
This settee at Mr. Brown London features lush velvet upholstery and a simple frame.

     Vollmer adds that Best's YOLO line has been very strong with buyers.
     "We've had more than 300 dealers sign up already, and we have only scratched the surface," he said. "I think chair galleries are going to continue to be incorporated as a destination within a store."
     From a fruit salad of colors in both leather and upholstery that included cherry red, shades of grape and cantaloupe and celery green, upholstery at the summer market was a bit more subdued than the recent High Point "brights," but no less dramatic.
     However, arguably one of the biggest trend stories was not specific to one color or finish. Instead, it was the increasing number of suppliers presenting all style categories - from transitional to soft contemporary to updated classic - in smaller scales. With demand for this revisited product size expected to grow as major changes in housing and lifestyles continue to shift, the new "big thing" for many manufacturers might be a smaller version of an old favorite.

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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