• Thomas Russell

Angular forms bring more modern approach

AmericanA.R.T. Furniture’s American Chapter collection features a mix of pecan, flaky oak and hickory veneers.
HIGH POINT — For the past few markets, case goods manufacturers have been leaning toward more casual styles offering drier finishes that highlight wood grain patterns.

This market, that trend continues but with more clean-lined and angular forms that offer a more contemporary and even modern approach.

The looks are punctuated not only with straight lines and clipped corners, but also with metal accents and lighter finishes that offer a two-tone approach on many tables and case pieces. With a few exceptions, there are still mostly dry, low-sheen finishes in the market, as well as some drier white plaster looks seen on bases that offer a contrast to the natural wood tops.

Metallic silver and copper tone finishes offer a contrasting look to the wood mix, appearing on the legs of some cases and tables, while splashes of color continue to be offered on select pieces within larger collections.

These design elements were seen at more than a dozen case goods style leaders showing at the last week’s Premarket in High Point.

The modern design aesthetic was seen in Bernhardt’s two main collections, Decorage and Axiom, which offer a mix of clean-lined, angular shapes as well as some geometric interest on classic forms. Made with wire-brushed quartered white oak veneers in a cerused mink finish, the 45-piece Decorage features clipped corners and stainless steel accents in a Silver Mist finish, as well as marble inlays on select pieces.

The 50-piece Axiom has contemporary and soft modern forms seen in its two finishes: White Anigre and Silver Anigre, a reference to its use of engineered quartered anigre veneers. The collection also features hand-applied plaster to pieces such as a buffet, sideboard, dresser and a round dining table. This contrasts with the brushed silver frames of case pieces and metal stretchers and acrylic hardware on select pieces.

Universal Furniture’s 30-piece Zephyr collection has casual contemporary design elements that offer a contrast between polished stainless steel accents and softly hammered concave vertical hardware with wire-brushed oak veneers in a light taupe finish called Solana, contrasting with a darker Polaris finish. Mixed media elements also play a role, including the use of Danish chord on the headboard of a panel bed and Carrera marble on the tops of cocktail and end tables. Another panel bed in the collection features channel tufted leather, further softening the clean contemporary shapes.

Hooker Furniture also uses mixed media elements — ranging from granite tops on case pieces to Danish chord on a dining chair — as well as open grain wood finishes to soften the modern approach to Miramar, which features three individual lifestyle looks within the collection. Made with mixtures of materials such as flaky oak veneers and oak solids, the collection also features solid wood drawer boxes with under mount wood glides.

“In modern design, simplicity is imperative,” said Pat Watson, vice president of merchandising at Hooker Furniture, in reference to both the simple forms and casual sandblasted and wire-brushed finishes.

“You have to think of how to make the most of every element you use.”

Falling within the company’s middle price points, Watson said the collection offers a premium design and materials story at a better price point.

The company’s 40-piece Crafted collection also offers a clean-lined approach to dining tables and cases but with a darker, higher sheen oak finish — mimicking the coloration of an old whisky barrel — on oak veneers.

The company takes a more feminine approach with Modern Romance, featuring wire-brushed oak veneers on the tops of round and rectangular dining tables and bases in a white plaster finish. A lacquered linen finish seen on the top of a kidney-shaped desk is also paired with the white plaster finish on the base.

Kincaid’s Linear collection also uses clean-lined forms for a soft modern design aesthetic. The 30-piece collection is made with solid white oak and is shown in a gray cerused finish that offers an interplay of “shadow and light” tones as seen at different angles. The soft modern design is also seen in plinth style bases on case pieces and even in the shapes of handcrafted hardware.

Tradition with a twist

StanleyThis dining table is part of Stanley Furniture’s new Butterbay Hill collection. It is made with mahogany veneers and features a Georgian mahogany finish on the top and an Estate white finish on the base.
Collections with more traditional design influences still bear soft casual finishes that help illustrate the wood story.

A second Kincaid collection called Stone Street, for example, has neoclassical design inspired by old European architecture but with a more casual look and feel thanks to the use of sandblasted solid New Zealand pine. The casual design elements also are seen in the pillowed texture of the headboard of a wood panel bed with recessed touch lighting and in the textured grain patterns throughout the collection.

“We’ve taken a style we’ve known at Kincaid and treated the finish differently,” said Max Dyer, vice president of marketing for parent company La-Z-Boy case goods.

At sister company American Drew, the new 40-piece Newbury collection has English cottage design elements with updated features such as woven cane on the headboard of a panel bed and a wire-brushed effect on thick oak veneers. The main finish is called Sun-washed Driftwood, and there is an accent finish called Denim, allowing the retailer to offer a splash of color on the retail floor.

Inspired by resorts in Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas, Stanley Furniture’s new 89-piece Butterbay Hill mixes Chinese Chippendale, Campaign, Caribbean contemporary and British West Indies design elements, offering a mix of traditional forms with new, fresh finishes over mahogany veneers.

There are two main finishes in the collection, a Georgian Mahogany and Estate White. These are complemented by several other colorful tones that include Lime Zest, Tortoise Shell, Hibiscus, Chambray, British Khaki and a gold leaf tone called Oracabessa, named after a small town in Saint Mary, Jamaica.

“In bedroom, living room and dining room, if you want that punch of color, there are a bunch of different ways to do that,” Randy Wells, vice president of creative, said of the opportunities for retailers to mix the color palette on their floors.

A.R.T.’s 40-piece American Chapter has American traditional design elements inspired by the whisky and bourbon distilleries and equestrian heritage of Lexington, Ky. Made with a mix of pecan, flaky oak and hickory veneers, it has a two-tone deep brown finish that offers a rich contrast to the many gray tones in the market.

“We saw there was some gray fatigue, so we went to a casual brown earth tone we felt would be appropriate,” said Adam Tilley, senior vice president of product and marketing at A.R.T. Furniture, adding that the finish has a waxy patina that adds to the casual nature of the collection.

This casual design aesthetic is further seen in the high-low treatment of veneers seen on the headboard, footboard and side rails of a panel bed, on a chest of drawers and the solid birch top of a kitchen island.

At Legacy Classic Furniture, there are two new collections in the licensed Rachael Ray line. The 30-piece Monteverdi is a casual Tuscan-inspired collection made with double wire-brushed cypress veneers and pine solids in a heavily distressed finish.

A second collection, Hygge (pronounced Hooga), is a 25-piece Danish modern-inspired collection made with oak veneers. It features beds from $499 to $599 and a table and four chair sets retailing at $1,199, making it styled and priced for the target Millennial consumer.

“We think this is a style that the Millennial will embrace,” said Legacy Classic President Don Essenberg. “It is fresh. And for the Millennial, you want to make it affordable.”

Wood resource SLF’s new 26-piece Bohemian bedroom and dining collection is designed to attract the young single female with its soft whimsical shapes and materials including a canopy bed with rope accents and a metal bed with curved wood panel insets. Wood pieces are shown in a soft dove gray painted finish, and some also feature white accents. A French-inspired wood panel bed features an inset upholstered headboard.

Klaussner’s latest licensed William Mangum collection, Reflections, offered a modern twist on Arts & Crafts styling, seen in its use of metal accents on beds and dining tables and its use of wire brushed birch veneers and poplar solids on pieces featuring mild distressing including burnished edges.

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, Furniture Today

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.


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