A while back, we highlighted some of our new design and color directions (Our Newest Work, October 15th, 2015). We thought we were in the right design/color space but we didn’t know how close to the market we really were…as it turns out we were on the money! Based on what we saw and heard at the most recent High Point Furniture Market, not only was our styling on the mark but the finishes we are using are right at the cusp of market offerings. According to some of the color forecasts these trends should be well in place for the next couple of years having as their base a developing inclination to look both forward and back at the same time…asserting contemporary design influences on prior forms and design. Many new finishes are relaxed and almost rustic, but appearing on trimmed down traditional and transitional forms. It’s a fresh way to go forward, influenced by a lifestyle looking for functional value and good looks. When this happens it means a better chance at product success and longevity.
The emergence of contemporary as a major market statement is bolstered in part by new introductions at major lifestyle retailers such as Crate and Barrel, Room & Board and Restoration Hardware (…or RH as they now like to be known). RH has just launched an incredible “less is more” collection called RH Modern featuring impressive coloration and materials, restrained design elements, wonderful applications of finishes and scale, and a vast breadth of combinations making it truly one of the most complete collections by anyone in the past few years. If they were trying to establish a trend and get some positive attention, they have done it. It’s an impressive statement with designs from noted designers, and wonderful execution that will set a tone for some time to come. No less compelling, the new offerings at Crate and Barrel or Room and Board: excellent styling, color directions, materials and finishes, tending to land a bit more Mid-century, but not any less eye-catching or exciting.
The emergence of clean contemporary styles, in case and upholstery ( as much as 40% of new introduction by some measure) is no blip. That’s what Millennials are looking for…simpler looks, contemporary and mid-century forms…not necessarily pure and stark, but, as noted above, looking back to give a glimpse of the future. Comfortable heritage looks and colors applied to new and more contemporary designs, colors and forms telling new lifestyle story at a glance, and the creation of warm usable personal spaces where family can kick back and relax.
A significant uptick of buying by Millennials…having come of age as consumers they now form a significant majority of the furniture buying population in North America… is helping shape new buying directions. Us Baby Boomers, who for so long have dominated the economy, furniture purchases and styles, are now in decline. No surprise, we’re older, downsizing, and changing our lifestyles to prepare for retirement (or semi-retirement). The 25 – 40 group are in the ascendancy and it would be a mistake to discount or ignore these new powerhouse buyers. With a well-defined sense of style, good jobs and good income, building new families, up-sizing to new homes and with very different tastes than their parents, this group is both poised and in motion to change buying and style directions for years to come.
The shift has not gone unnoticed; we definitely see the change in a preference for the clear woods and simple lines. On the boards now are designs with some mid-century feel, simpler uncluttered lines, and clarity of finish. We are exploring more casual forms and a lot of mixed media for impact, especially bronze, flat gold and gun metal with some exposed welds. Value is critical and is represented by both finish and design statements as well as pricing. Reflective of lifestyle (aspirational or real) surrounded by familiar forms in new finishes and colors, and reflective of the cool, casual urban chic that now pervades the market, it would seem the cusp of exciting new opportunities has arrived.