By Andrea Lillo
Consumers wanting a fresh look for their homes find wall decor one easy way to decorate, and the new products in this category have something for every type of interior. A piece of redwood, a natural metal finish, a scenic background image from a popular children’s film—all are among the latest products recently introduced by manufacturers for the market.
Whether customers prefer traditional or contemporary decor is debated among manufacturers; however, one of the overriding themes in both categories was natural elements, as people still want to incorporate the outdoors in.
Some companies see consumers turning more toward traditional decor, especially during shaky economic times. “This year, people are playing it safer,” said Amy Mai, designer, PTM Images. “They don’t want to buy contemporary.”
Retailers may have grown their contemporary assortments and shrunken their traditional ones, and that may have been a mistake, said Jonathan Bass, president, PTM Images, whose core customer buys under-glass art. “The retailer went to too much alternative,” he said. “It’s harder to decorate with alternative art than traditional under-glass art.”
John Sterling, president of Sterling Industries, agreed. While Sterling’s wall decor product is mostly mirrors, Sterling said that he’s “tried unique, but people want the basics.” He added that some trends work. A zebra mirror, for example, is one of the company’s biggest sellers. “Just because something is traditional doesn’t mean we can’t follow trends or motifs,” he said.
At the Las Vegas Market, PTM Images expanded its Disney line with a group of giftable artwork. With not a Mickey or Donald in sight, the new line focuses on the background of popular Disney films, such as Johnny Appleseed, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan. “Adults don’t relate to Mickey and Minnie but they bonded with Disney films in some way when they were children,” said Bass. With this art, “it’s having part of a classic film, such as The Lion King, that is not hokey.”
About 40 new SKUs are in the giftable line, retailing from $50 to $500, while PTM also expanded its main Disney line with another 90 SKUs.
For those companies that concentrate on contemporary, going natural is the key.
“I see metals having more natural finishes,” whether that’s steel, copper or brass, said artist BJ Keith, who has created products for Artisan House for 30 years. “For years, everything was very colorful,” she added. Now, “the bright colors are gone.”
Artisan House celebrated its 45th year in business offering metal works of art and at the Las Vegas Market added more than 50 new items to the line, as well as expanded into the wall clock category with three pieces. Some of the introductions were from Keith including Organic, a modern design made of multiple layers of copper plated steel and ground steel; Formation, which resembles layers of grounded steel rock; and Nautical, made of ground steel and brass.
Gift and accessories company New View also sees the growing appeal of metals in wall decor, one of its main categories. “We really think metal is a big trend in the market,” said Donna Donat, vice president, design. “And the way we approach it is unique.” With such subjects as coastal and nature themes and sentiments, the line uses natural finishes, as well as a high-gloss, “almost ceramic” finish, Donat said. “It’s all about the finishes.”
New View concentrates on smaller pieces and competitive price points, which are “no brainers for the customer,” Donat said. Price points are generally $19.99 and below, while sizes range from 9-inch square to 24-inch square pieces. Donat also sees more multi-packed items, which “feels value oriented.”
At The Phillips Collection, wall decor is not subtle and small. “Perhaps we have trended towards colossal pieces because of their impact and ‘wow’ factor,” said Jason Phillips, vice president. The category has always been the company’s “bread and butter.”
At the recent Las Vegas Market, the company showed its galvanized group of circles made of recycled oil drums that were sanitized and eroded, that retail for $35 for each circle, Phillips said. “We’re on a big eco kick.” The Redwood Collection by Daryl Stokes uses wood from California’s wild fires and includes wall decor along with freestanding sculptures and tables.
Another trend, items that mix rough organics with smooth and shiny metallics, will also be seen more in the line, Phillips added.