Colors to spice up upholstery at fall market
Larry Thomas , Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, September 16, 2013
HIGH POINT - Think about the salt, pepper, butter and A-1 sauce that top off a meal of steak and potatoes and you'll have a good handle on one of Premarket's prominent trends. Yes, there were 50 shades of gray (and brown), but they were frequently accompanied by spicy fabric colors that seem to suggest more suppliers and dealers are ready to embrace vibrant visual settings.
In the Fairmont Designs showroom, two-toned wing chairs in vibrant black, blue and red graphics enlivened neutral solids with a powerful color exclamation point. But it wasn't just chairs that offered stop-you-in-your-tracks visuals; one large cream sectional was pepped up with ruby, sprout, violet, turquoise and marine hues on 10 pillows and three ottomans.
"We have a big emphasis on color," said Todd Campbell, vice president of sales for Fairmont Designs. "Dealers see the necessity now because customers are demanding color. We try to stretch and put ourselves out of the norm. This is a fashion business; you can't have all bland."
The revamped upholstery program that HGTV Home rolled out at the last High Point Market is now "solidly on retail floors," according to company officials. At Premarket, a stair step sofa display highlighted one of HGTV's focuses - assisting dealers with the marketing strategies that will help them sell their products.
"We're helping retailers envision color stories and create a bold move forward for consumers," said Kena Lenard, vice president of upholstery development and design. "And the exclusive HGTV Home fabrics were the inspiration for many of the new colors we're featuring in the case goods collection."
One introduction certain to attract attention at the October market is Rowe Furniture's Stylaire collection. Adapted from the company's midcentury archives, the new Stylaire offerings have iconic 1950s-60s style influence with 21st century materials.
"When we went back and saw the styles, we decided that we had the opportunity to go back and make something we'd done in the past even better," said David Shilesky, vice president of marketing for Rowe. "People will say that they love midcentury style, but that some of the furniture from that time period is too rigid or firm. Rowe is a comfort story, so we have taken a style appreciated by a lot of people and improved on it."
Rowe also will feature three new Sunbrella settings in the showroom. A new Sunbrella kiosk and co-branded fabric books highlight Rowe's partnership with the performance fabric supplier.
"Retailers in the marketplace recognize how much Sunbrella markets to the end consumer," he said. "We have already sent out 50 sets of our fabric books in three weeks."
The Hooker Furniture showroom featured numerous style trend settings including global travel, casual cottage, shades of green and neutral sophistication. One particularly intriguing introduction is the upholstered cocktail table in the Corsica collection. Part footstool, part ottoman and part cocktail table, this piece encapsulates the multipurpose style dynamic and at $1,099 retail, offers an attractive case goods and upholstery option for dealers.
Klaussner Home Furnishings gave dealers a sneak peek of Carolina Preserves by North Carolina artist William Mangum. The collection will include five sofa frames with coordinating upholstery pieces and about 35 wood pieces, many inspired by a book Mangum published in 2000 that includes 130 original paintings of North Carolina.
On the motion side, several producers are rolling out sofas covered in breathable performance fabrics, which have the look and feel of leather along with a hefty backing, but are marketed as fabrics.
"We feel this is the next generation of the leather-like fabrics and bonded leathers," said Gentry Long, vice president of motion upholstery producer Home-Stretch. "It has the look, the hand and the durability we're looking for."
HomeStretch's new product lineup includes one motion sofa with the breathable fabric, and competitors including American Furniture, Franklin and Man Wah/Cheers also showed similar covers at Premarket.
"We think it could be the next hot thing out there," said Randy Spak, vice president of sales at American.
All-leather motion upholstery was also noteworthy last week, with Palliser, Simon Li and Barcalounger showing new introductions. Palliser is adding two groups to its Innovations line of motion, and Simon Li is adding no fewer than nine groups to its Motion Max line.
"We're targeting sofa price points of $1,499 to $1,799 and offering more transitional styles to round out our line," said Dwight Hardison, Simon Li's vice president of merchandising.
As Premarket wound down on Tuesday afternoon, nonscheduled buyers were still coming through the Hughes Furniture showroom on Main Street. CEO Bruce Hughes said that the two-day event was well worth the effort.
"We've seen several majors and a good number of locals," Hughes said. "And we've seen a new multi-location retailer. That's always a good thing during Premarket."