High Point Market Report: Designs lean to traditional
August 14, 2011 | 6:09 pm CDT

Tradition takes on new attraction in turbulent times, and much of the furniture being presented to consumers this summer and fall offers the comfort of familiarity.

Hooker’s Kinston collection makes extensive use of crushed bamboo veneer, creating patterns that, along with black trim, add interest.

Designs of the 1700s and 1800s are reborn in several major collections shown at the April High Point Market, but with 21st century electronics accommodation. They are American, British and European-inspired, and they range from the elegance of Stanley’s Grand Continental to the Shaker-esque simplicity of Broyhill’s Attic Heirlooms Heritage.

“We . . . feel confident that the traditional style category presents us with the most ideal landscape for immediate success as a domestic manufacturer,” says Glenn Prillaman, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Stanley

Grand Continental’s 52 pieces, including outsize beds and a hexagonal dinner table that seats eight, have echoes of French, Italian and Spanish styling.

Another Stanley introduction, City Club, offers 54 pieces in a more subdued British/American tradition. Both collections feature turned, carved legs and other intricate work.

Stanley’s vice president of product management, Adam Tilley, says one of the goals is to show that a predominantly domestic manufacturer can compete in the “fine-detail and flourishes” department. Some 75 percent of Stanley’s product is made in the United States, the company says. Much of its carving is done by suppliers within 500 miles of its Stanleytown, VA, home, Tilley says.

Broyhill Furniture’s tribute to the past is an expansion of its popular Attic Heirlooms brand. Attic Heirlooms Heritage is in pine solids and veneers in a distressed pine finish and features period details like antique brass hardware and simulated round-peg joinery.

This writing table in Kincaid’s Alston collection has reverse serpentine legs and is designed to go anywhere in the home.

Reclaimed Lumber Makes Its Debut
For those who like their history with authentic wormholes still in place, Turning House Furniture’s first grouping is made with recovered wood. The new company’s sister business, Turning House Millwork, locates and razes factories and other buildings from the 1890-1940 period, and the furniture company turns the lumber into furniture. It includes some antique reproductions and some “industrial chic” designs, says Spencer Morten II, CEO of both companies and also of Bassett Mirror.

In all cases, “the hero is the wood,” Morten says. Six species — those used in ordinary household furniture of the 19th and early 20th centuries — are used. They are walnut, heart pine, maple, cherry, oak and wormy American chestnut.

When the demolition crews come upon a special wood, like the wormy chestnut they recovered from the 1890s Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Lawrenceville, KY, Turning House hires a West Virginia woodworker to make limited-edition pieces that are sold only at High Point Market. The bulk of the furniture is made overseas and will be offered in limited distribution. Neiman Marcus introduced eight pieces in February, and Morten is looking to partner with designer showrooms and lifestyle retailers who sell specialty furnishings.

The kitchen is where Paula Deen’s heart is, and this Kitchen Gathering Table in a Tobacco finish is part of her debut collection with Universal Furniture.

Food for Thought
TV’s Paula Deen, known for the Southern recipes on her Emmy-award-winning Food Network shows, is entering a first collaboration with Universal Furniture. Their collection of bedroom, dining, occasional and home office/entertainment pieces is inspired by plantation-style antiques and the casual coastal furnishings in Deen’s Savannah home.

More recent history — the mid-20th century — attracts its share of designers. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Bernhardt Furniture are offering the 24-piece “Greenwich Street,” which pairs rosewood grains with metal ferrules and brass hardware.

Kincaid describes its sleek Alston as “modern traditional” with Art Deco echoes. It’s sized for condos as well as single-family homes, and features brushed nickel hardware and, in some cases, reverse serpentine legs.

Century Furniture, often a trendsetter, has an eye on tradition, too, but it’s the relaxed tradition of island life. “The outside world is chaotic, making the home a place of refuge. Cambria is an eclectic mix of pieces incorporating designs of refined casual living, mostly inspired by the relaxed lifestyle of the islands,” says designer Bill Faber.

In Cambria, crushed (flattened) bamboo is used to form table tops, and the whitish marble surfaces of some pieces resemble seashells. A new finish, Linen, mixes gray and blond elements.

Crushed bamboo, this time fitted together in geometric patterns, also characterizes Hooker’s 70-piece Kinston. It’s the “brown” of a black and brown color scheme, and is used not only in tabletops, but in door panels and drawer fronts as well. Hooker calls attention to bamboo’s “highly sustainable” nature, and several other manufacturers also are quick to tout the “green” nature of their designs.

As an RTA manufacturer using particleboard and paper, Sauder Woodworking is using other manufacturers’ wood waste, says marketing director Michael Lambright. Fully 98 percent of its materials are pre- and post-consumer recycled, he says. In addition, the company’s plants in Archbold, OH, burn their own sawdust, supplying 60 percent of the company’s energy needs.

And Sauder, which introduced three new collections at High Point, adheres to the California standards on formaldehyde, which are stricter than federal rules, he says.

The Flip-Top Console Table from Century’s Cambria collection features a planked top and intricately carved front rail. It can go from a console to a junior dining table with a flip of the top.

Budget-Friendly Furniture
Sauder, which specializes in home office and home entertainment, addresses consumers’ electronic lives, says Lambright. It sells to both Target and Wal-Mart, and even in the recession, Lambright says, “people are going there.”

This year Sauder is introducing Camber Hill, Graham Hill and Edge Water. Graham Hill includes a faux granite desk surface that Lambright says has the durability of melamine. Edge Water includes a small “technology center” that not only has the requisite power strip and cord management, but a detachable shelf that can be carried to the sofa to support a laptop. With pieces expected to range from $99 to $199 retail, Graham Hill illustrates a prominent feature of some of the new designs — they are within young adults’ budgets.

At La-Z-Boy company Kincaid Furniture, suggested retail for the American-made Evergreen bedroom collection is less than $2,000 for bed, dresser, nightstand and mirror. Evergreen is made from Appalachian white pine at Kincaid’s plant in Hudson, NC.

Hooker’s Envision, a bedroom, dining room, home office, entertainment and occasional collection, targets the same budget-minded consumer. It comes in five styles, one of which features rubberwood and powder-coated metal. Nightstands have both phone connections and USB ports. Prices are 25 percent below Hooker’s regular prices, and a dresser, mirror, queen bed and nightstand could be as low as $1,995 retail, the company says.

“Envision allows us and our retailers a significant growth opportunity even in a down economy and offers a line to appeal to the up-and-coming young consumer,“ says Bruce Cohenour, Hooker senior vice president.

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