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Defining Style

Cindy Hodnett
As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying a rainbow of fabrics, the sloping curves of sofa frames and the nail head trim and button accents on a piece of upholstery. I research hundreds of companies who bring these things together for consumers, and I greet every new product introduction with enthusiastic anticipation. It's the perfect professional fit for a writer who once traded Barbie's best ball gown for a brightly-hued 12-inch Dream House bed, and it's a journey I plan to share with F/T readers who understand that furniture is so much more than simply a place to sit. I look forward to reporting on what I see in different markets, and I hope you'll reciprocate by letting me know when something impresses you. Email:
  • Marketing to Millennials, from a Millennial designer

    If there is a common denominator in today's retail environment, it is undoubtedly that there is not one single magic bullet marketing strategy for all customers. Furniture shoppers are coming to retail from a variety of different mindsets, and the ongoing challenge for dealers is to create a multifaceted marketing program that encompasses demographic differences.Beginning with this first blog of 2014, I'm going to add a monthly feature to Defining Style that provides consumer insight via designers for particular consumer categories. This inaugural question and answer blog kicks off with Bobby Berk, a HGTV designer and retailer ... Read More
  • Much Ado About Color

    HIGH POINT-As I write this, the October High Point Market coverage has wrapped up, and coverage of Showtime, the semi-annual textile market hosted by the International Textile Market Association, is underway. Previews of new fabric introductions are daily happenings these days, and mail delivery at the office is like early Christmas with Belgian linens and a particularly beautiful Portuguese plaid in-house and waiting to be photographed. There is also a new "old" book on my desk right now that illustrates some of the same color palettes seen at 2013 markets. Titled Color for Interiors: Historical and Modern and written by ... Read More
  • What's in the making of upholstery innovation?

    Innovation is always a hot topic going into market. Who is introducing something that is a must see? What new bell, whistle, fabric or finish is going to be the showstopper? Which company is doing the best job of bringing excitement to the industry?But if you look a little deeper at the definition of innovation, you'll find it isn't just about creating something new for the sake of being different. According to one definition, it's about finding solutions for "new requirements, inarticulate needs or existing market needs." So what does that mean for the upholstery category ... Read More
  • Bankruptcy Primer — Answers to a Few Simple Questions People Were Asking Behind the Scenes

    There's no doubt that the bankruptcy filing by Furniture Brands International dominated a lot of conversations this week. And while many industry veterans were discussing the intricacies of what the future looks like for the companies under the FBN umbrella, a fair number of Premarket attendees were asking some very basic questions about bankruptcy.Bowman Gray IV is the president and a money manager at Brightleaf Asset Management in Winston-Salem, N.C., an independent brokerage firm. In a conversation earlier this week, he provided a few answers to some of basic questions about bankruptcy proceedings. 1) How does Chapter ... Read More
  • Furniture fantasies run the gamut

    I'm waiting on the mail. Any day, "Retro Style: Class, Gender and Design in the Home" is scheduled to arrive, and I can't wait. As a self-described design nerd, I love learning about the influences that compel individuals toward particular design aesthetics, and as a fan of modern style, I want to see what Dr. Sarah Baker has to say about the furniture junkies who never tire of Eames, Nelson and Baughman.The correlation between the furniture that a consumer buys and the feelings that a piece of furniture evoke cannot be ignored. As I write this, market ... Read More
  • Are Your Sales Associates Engaged?

    During a recent lunch with one of my industry buddies, our informal conversation turned to the challenges retailers face when it comes to finding sales associates who communicate excitement about furniture to consumers. My friend has decades of experience in the industry, and he said that one of the biggest problems was that the 35-and-under age bracket hasn't embraced retail sales as a viable career, a dramatic shift from years ago. The next day, an article appeared online that explored the correlation between highly engaged employees and productivity. One of the key assertions in the article was that the ... Read More
  • From Guns to Frames

    The blueprint used to produce a 3D-printed plastic gun, which was successfully fired a few weeks ago at a firing range in Austin, Texas, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times since going online, and according to BBC News, the U.S., Spain, Brazil, Germany and the United Kingdom reported the highest number of downloads, respectively. The events made a strong impression on Sen. Charles Schumer and Congressman Steve Israel of New York, who have since sponsored legislation to add a 3D-printing provision to the U.S. Undetectable Firearms Act.Representatives of Defense Distributed, the company that produced the ... Read More
  • State funding cuts would hurt market

    When the NCAA basketball tournament sweeps us up in March Madness every year, millions of dollars are funneled into local colleges, communities and businesses. Whether via hotels, restaurants or team memorabilia, greenbacks surge along with the enthusiasm of sports fans during the tournament and the economic benefits last far beyond the final score.The High Point Market is another financial heavy hitter that significantly impacts economies at the local, state, national and international levels. During a recent program at High Point University with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Bob Maricich, president of International Market Centers - the largest High Point Market ... Read More
  • Good design spreading on international scale

    A few weeks ago I spent five days in Milan, Italy, attending a press trip sponsored by Cosmit, the organizers of the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile furniture fair. During the trip, a group of international journalists met with the Cosmit board and its new president, Claudio Luti, also president of Kartell and a founding partner of Versace, to learn more about plans for April's Saloni. We also visited the studios of several renowned Italian architects and designers who participate in the fair, including Piero Lissoni and Antonio Citterio. French architect Jean Nouvel was also present and offered information ... Read More
  • Functional motion can look good too

    It's no secret that guys like gadgets, and motion furniture is the Holy Grail receptacle for electronics. But it's also no secret that women - the consumer gender demographic that makes a large percentage of purchase decisions - are not particularly fond of big, bulky furnishings, leaving manufacturers with the challenge of finding creative ways to incorporate elegance and electronics in the same product package. One of the complaints manufacturers receive about motion furniture is that the reclining feature can be difficult for many females to operate, and this performance limitation resulted in the rise of power features. Today, as ... Read More
  • Media's now social

    In 1949, Giulio Castelli founded Kartell, an Italian design company that is self-described as "representing the culture of plastics for over 60 years." When Castelli decided to use his skills as a chemical engineer in a decidedly unexpected business endeavor, he ended up creating a company that redefined plastics and became a design icon in the furniture industry. Castelli used his technical expertise to build his creative vision. And through his efforts, a new brand was created that continues to inspire and educate six decades after its inception.Today, a similar transition is under way in the world of media ... Read More
  • Upholstery power: Category fires up retail sales

    Say hello to the Power of Upholstery. With the launch of this new section, Furniture Today is highlighting one of the "drivers" of the furniture industry bus and is expanding the publication's editorial coverage to reflect the category's strength on the retail floor. The economic outlook for upholstered furniture is more than just a little positive. In 2012, consumers spent more than $12.7 billion on stationary and sleeper sofas, and the figure is expected to grow by 22.5% over the next five years. That is a substantial expenditure and a significant increase by any measure. In ... Read More