13838 Wed, 02/20/2008 - 4:55pm
By Jennifer Quail
The area rug market is experienc-ing a curious thing: It is faced with a consumer who has become more interested in incorporating elements of elegance into her home, but one who also wants to be able to live very easily and comfortably in those surroundings. It’s a turn that has prompted the phrase “casual elegance” to become a bit of an unofficial logo for the industry.
Perhaps the biggest trend found among the latest designs and expected to carry on in the coming seasons is the notion of making all designs a bit more livable. Contemporaries have softened their lines and their palette; the opulence of traditional designs has been pared down by blowing up the patterns and cleaning up the fields; and colorways include rich shades, but less of them, opting often instead for the use of abundant texture to illustrate a subdued depth and elegance.
Most agree the extreme modernism and stark sense of glamour has seen its day, found its niche and will remain a small, but significant part of the market. What consumers can’t seem to get enough of is the softer takes on contemporary, an area that continues to grow and widen even further the boundaries of what may be considered a transitional design.
“We are really seeing a turn to the more livable contemporary designs,” said Kim Reynolds, vice president of marketing for Sphinx. “Especially with the economy, people want their purchases to last.”
Kim Barta, brand manager for Shaw Living, said the company’s research and development team has found the overall palette moving cooler year after year, but that contemporary designs are indeed where they see the palette cooling off the most, moving specifically to tinted neutrals, taupes, sophisticated grays and neutral earth tones.
“We are seeing more and more texture,” said Ravi Tiwari, vice president of sales and marketing at Chandra Rugs. “Purples are doing increasingly well, as is the use of one earth tone with another, different type of shade.”
Colors that are gaining momentum have a rich, yet soft appeal: moss green, soft rain blue, slate, bronzed browns, rich berry reds, a million shades of aubergine. There is a quiet nostalgia and opulence to them and they turn most often to Mother Nature for inspiration. That natural element, coupled with the use of more simple one- and two-toned designs have opened more consumers up to the idea of color.
Evidence of consumers’ growing acceptance of color in the home is the most recent color story from Wools of New Zealand, told first at the Surfaces market last month. The palette includes 50 colors, the largest number Creative Manager Joanna Ramsden said she has ever included.
“The U.S. market is the most exciting market by far in terms of pattern and color,” Ramsden said. “This palette represents the re-emergence of taste and understated luxury. People are making more informed decisions for their homes. We are going to see people really viewing their home as a canvas.”
Ramsden said the barriers that previously existed between countries are breaking down. People are learning more about other cultures and increasingly visiting foreign lands, and all those aspects are contributing to the colors that will infuse homes in the coming months.
“We are seeing a big trend for avocado green,” said Julie Rosenblum, brand and design manager for Nourison. Rosenblum, too, said colors and patterns from nature are on the rise. “It’s not about the jewel tones,” she said. “They still sell, but now it’s more about earth and sky, casual and elegant. The blues have changed to teal and ice and aqua, the greens really to that avocado.”
Rosenblum is also among those who pointed to an increased trend in “skin-inspired” designs. “Skins are in in a big way,” she said.
Of course, even color is affected by the pending presidential election and Ramsden said its influence is felt far beyond our own shores. “The build-up to the [U.S. presidential] election is the news everywhere and will affect everyone,” she said. “I’m seeing a lot of stars and stripes around the world. I think it’s very influential.”
As is often the case in times of uncertainty and change, people turn to items, places and even colors that make them feel safe. “Reminiscence is very important now,” Ramsden said. “People are more inclined to hold onto things from the past that are precious to them and present them in a new way.”