Designers share what's selling at Las Vegas Market
Furniture Today Staff -- Furniture Today, August 1, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Every market has style trends, and it is important to understand current color and decor influences. But the bottom line is that design must also make money, and consumer preference is one of the most important factors to consider in the equation.
As buyers navigate the Las Vegas Market this week, they will see a smorgasbord of fabric, frames and product. To help them navigate the offerings, Furniture/Today interviewed four designers - Angelo Surmelis, Barclay Butera, Christopher Guy and Bobby Berk - about what their clients are asking for when it comes to new furniture.
F/T: Are people buying more sofas, chairs, sectionals? Yes, each project is specific to the client, but are they recovering sofas and buying new chairs, buying all new or mixing and matching? And is one style winning out over another?
Berk: Our biggest category in upholstery is sectionals. I'd say we sell eight sectionals for every two sofas. People love sofas with chaises because they are versatile. Couples can cuddle on them or not, depending on the day.
Guy: I can say that across the world, patterns are being substituted for textures, in a more neutral tone with just a hint of color. The market requirements in U.S. cities are quickly moving to a warm contemporary, rather than a clean-cut European feel. One thing though is sure - the traditional look is obsolete unless given a thorough makeover. Changing the color of traditional dark furnishings to a lighter tone, in particular white, plus a purer fabric theme, can excite the current buying audience.
Butera: New, fresh sofas continue to be a major priority for our clients. Since most of my projects are complete design renovations, new construction and floor-to-ceiling makeovers, we strongly encourage our clients to begin with the sofa first. I do adhere to a high-low mix of furnishings and accessories, but I always advise clients to buy the very best sofa they can afford. It's an investment that will reward them over and over!
Surmelis: My clients are buying more chairs. They are using them as accessories and giving their rooms an instant color and pattern lift. When they do replace bigger ticket items, it's usually because they are interested in changing design direction and they want the larger pieces to lead the way. (Click here to see Surmelis' video interview with Ray Allegrezza.)
F/T: For retailers who are looking for a way to excite consumers, what products and styles are going to promote a sense of "gotta have it" with consumers? What can retailers put on the floor to get people in the store?
Surmelis: You can never go wrong with taking chances. Even when you feel there was a misstep, you've gained a perspective you didn't have before. When I opened our first angelo:HOME store in downtown L.A., one of my biggest goals was to be able to experiment with everything. If it was for your home, I wanted to participate in that arena. Try new colors, patterns and looks. It's more than surprising what you can learn from those chances and the things that you may think are not going to work are sometimes the ones that are a "must have" for the customer. You don't have to make a broad stroke - just ones that show your customer things that they weren't expecting from you. I don't like being bored, and I certainly don't think my customer does either.
Butera: I do think retailers need to take more chances. When I first began in this business, there were jaws dropping at my combinations of animal print, plaids, stripes and beyond. Glamour always sells for us, and color. I love color, but not in a crazy way - instead, in a very classic, timeless, yet fearless approach. It's all in the way you put it together, and you bet - you have to take risks to grow. My look evolves with every project.
Berk: We try to make furniture the grandkids will fight over, but keep price points affordable for the masses. There is definitely a level of quality phenomenon happening right now, and everyone should be able to have fun with furniture for their home.
Guy: There is currently a notable style change taking place across the world of interiors. Carving and traditional pieces are being interpreted in new ways, which, as a company, we started about six years ago once it became clear that traditional room settings were fast falling out of favor globally. To give added umph to our line, we created many original art pieces in varying materials to complement our expanded Mademoiselle line, which was designed as if I was commissioned by Coco Chanel for her imaginary 21st century home. The younger professionals today demand a more eclectic feel which can comfortably mix the old with the new.
F/T: And how can retailers show new products that will seem fresh and exciting to younger buyers who don't want to imitate their mother's living room?
Butera: Know your customer! Clients do not come to Barclay Butera showrooms for minimalism, if you catch my drift. They know there are going to be layers upon layers of fabrics, textures, magnificent upholstery and classic-with-a-twist case goods. I am constantly refreshing our retail spaces with new finds from European flea markets and with cool things I find at trade markets - vintage pieces and beyond. Retailers need to experiment with wood finishes, various metals, fresh lighting. We do major overhaul flips on our stores every couple of months, but in between, we continue to swap our color stories, change upholstery for the season and the like. Oh, and matching upholstery and case goods? The kiss of death.
Berk: You can have color, but just not overwhelming. And tell your green story if you have one. It's very important to a lot of consumers. To me, being "green" shouldn't even be a question - it's a common courtesy to everyone else that lives on the planet.
Surmelis: There's a fine line between new and exciting and not relatable to real life living. It's not that we don't want to see things that are familiar - we do. We just want to see them in a new way. Combining new design ideas with things that represent the best of comfort and warmth in our homes is a recipe that works well for most customers. In my experience, most of my clients aren't looking to be avant garde - they're looking for things that feel fresh, but practical and still have a sense that they can easily work with the hand-me-down pieces that they have.