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Design On Parade

Posted on May 9, 2012 by HFN Staff

By David Gill

The 2012 edition of Surtex will take place this month, at a time in which the uptick in the economy is boosting demand for surface design.

The show will be at its usual venue, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, from May 20-22. The improving economy, and its effect on the demand for design, is reflected in the show's key numbers. According to GLM, Surtex's owner and manager, some 300 to 350 artists, design companies and licensing agents are expected to exhibit their wares at the show, up from 277 at last year's show.

Penny Sikalis, Surtex's manager and GLM vice president of business development, said that in early April, preregistration by attendees was tracking 40 percent ahead of last year at the same time. This pickup is occurring from all over the world, and includes U.S. companies bringing their retailer and manufacturer partners. "There is an increase in demand for design all over the world," Sikalis said. "You see it across the board in all product categories as well." GLM estimated that attendees will total about 6,000 all told.

Exhibitors said the design that will be on display at the show also reflects the economy's improvement. Speaking of the colors that are trending up, Nancy Fire, founder and creative director at Design Works International, described color as "the creative choice. From vibrant brights to power neutrals with metallic accents, color is fresh, focused and definitive. Within these color stories, we are mixing and matching patterns that are more expressive and original."

The global nature of the show will also influence what will be offered, according to color and pattern consultant Khristian Howell. "As we continue to move increasingly toward a global community, we have been and continue to be intrigued by indigenous prints, patterns and textures," Howell said. "As a result, we are seeing exciting new mixes of color, i.e., natural plus neon; patterns, i.e., Middle Eastern paisleys plus preppy stripes; and textures, i.e., new knits plus plastics."

Mixed in with all the new looks will be designs that never lose their popularity. "Animal prints are an evergreen design," said artist Tara Reed. "They come and go in popularity but never really go away." Among the animal looks that have been showing up lately, Reed said, are zebra stripes paired with lime greens, hot pinks and bright blues; leopard prints in every combination not found in nature; and peacock-inspired art and design elements.

Regarding trends of all types, Sikalis said this year's Surtex will include the debut of the Trend Theatre, a grouping of presentations on design trends featuring participants from trend-forecast companies. "The topics will range from macro to micro and will include product-specific information," she said.