High Point Market: Restrained, Refined, with a Bit of Bold
August 15, 2011 | 10:35 am CDT
Classy and conservative, rather than spectacular, describes the new furniture that will be hitting stores next spring.

Introduced to retailers at the October High Point Market, the collections are short on the sweeping curves and elaborate moulding seen in many of the April market’s European-inspired collections.

Instead, many of them display subtle curves, sleek lines and imaginative finishes. Bold use of color on accent pieces and the inclusion of unusual materials, like the acid-washed, wire-brushed Uba Tuba granite in Bernhardt’s Carmel Highlands, distinguish several collections.

Century tosses pale blue — and green, red, white and black — bedside tables into its dark-brown New Traditional Collection made of maple and cerejeira crotch veneers and chestnut crotch veneers. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, in the media star’s fifth collaboration with Bernhardt, places a bright, orange-red secretary decorated with chinoiserie in the otherwise mahogany and cherry Katonah Collection. RTA leader Sauder Woodworking has gone high-gloss with several collections as it emphasizes its Sauder Global Sourcing, formerly Studio RTA.

Whereas previous markets leaned heavily on a European collection (think Tuscany), many of these fall collections are firmly rooted in America’s past, both distant and near. Broyhill, which claims its Attic Heirlooms was the biggest seller in the industry when it debuted in 2001, is marking that fifth anniversary with 2,000 copies of an Attic Heirlooms Limited Edition Hall Console. It has simple lines and glass on all four sides.

Arts & Crafts Revisited
Hooker, which last April debuted its made-in-America Simply American Collection of Arts & Crafts, Mission-inspired furniture, added dining room, living room and entertainment pieces in quarter-sawn oak. Kincaid has an even-more-rustic Mission-inspired collection, its heavily-distressed Stonewater.

The sleek lines of America’s era of Modern design echo in Canyon, from Palliser’s EQ3, designed by Blake Tovin. Tovin did another salute to the era, Simply Modern, for Palliser-spinoff Casana. And Mariette Himes Gomez, designing for Hickory Chair, has put a simple, round tabletop of Persian yew onto a cast aluminum base in her New Yorker Center Table.

An exception to the flood of Americana was Pulaski, which looked to its collaborator Cristina Saralegui’s Basque roots for its Casa Cristina Cantabria Collection. The pieces are solid and blocky-looking rather than curvy and flowing, with doors outlined in double moulding and bands of cast brass decorating selected pieces. Drawer pulls reflect the Spanish door handle they are modeled after, and raised panels in a media cabinet mimic an antique door.

The practical side of home furnishings has not been forgotten. There continues to be large-scaled collections to fill the high-ceiling mansions springing up all over America. Stanley’s generously-scaled Toluca Lake, made of wormy maple and cherry, is one such example. Another example is a china cabinet in Bernhardt’s Carmel Highlands Collection, which is 72/3 feet tall.

Arts & Crafts and Mission live again in Hooker’s Simply American Collection, with this market added dining room, living and home entertainment pieces. The collection, touted as being made in America, is of quarter-sawn oak with exposed mortise-and-tenon joinery.
In Youth Furniture, Stanley Offers Rainbow; Pulaski, the Bear Facts

A couple of companies showing at the High Point Market came up with novel twists in the ongoing effort to appeal to the young.
Stanley’s Young America looked to the rainbow, while Pulaski looked to the woods.

Young America’s myHaven Collection stresses customization and individuality, with 20 different finishes offered on 30 different pieces.

“myHaven allows both boys and girls — along with their stylish moms — to create the rooms they imagine, as bright and as colorful as they wish,” says Glenn Prillaman, Stanley’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. Shades range from bright pink “watermelon” to sky blue.

By teaming up with St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop in an extensive design and marketing effort, Pulaski is tying its fortunes to a pint-size, fuzzy toy.

The bears have been a retail phenomenon for some time, “made” by kids visiting Build-A-Bear Workshop stores across the country. Working with focus groups of moms and kids, Pulaski has designed a line of youth furniture, Build-A-Bear Workshop Home, that has bear-paw drawer knobs and a windowed “cave” in a chest that serves as the bear’s resting spot. The collections, which feature variations in drawer fronts, include Pawsitively Yours and Pawsitively Perfect, both designed for girls; Bearific, designed for boys; and Bear Necessities, a set of storage and other auxiliary pieces.

A bear-making machine, which fluffs foam stuffing into empty little bear arms, legs and tummy, will travel to some two dozen furniture retailers in the coming year. Experts will teach retailers’ staffs how to lend kids a helping paw at bear building.

Honey, I Shrunk the Sofa

There is also a deliberate attempt to appeal to people who may not have as much room. For them, footprints are reduced. Broyhill, for instance, has made the cocktail tables in its “small spaces program” 2 to 4 inches shorter or narrower than usual, and offers sofas that are 78 inches long.

Yaletown, a harbor community in Vancouver where a former garment district has been turned into a thriving urban community, inspired Bassett’s collection by the same name. Cherry-veneer dining, bedroom, living room and home entertainment pieces are contemporary in style, inspired by Yaletown’s condos and apartments. Manufacturers built many of their pieces to be used in a variety of ways. The Rialto base in Stanley’s Toluca Lake, for example, can be topped with either a matching bookcase, bar or home entertainment center.

The popularity of the laptop computer has shrunk home office, though some traditionally-sized offices like Sauder’s high-fashion, high-gloss Via continue to be shown. Hooker and Stanley also offer all-in-one secretaries, with laptop space, file drawers and other storage in cases 4-feet high or less.

For the ultimate in multi-tasking, Hooker offers its Convergence Secretary, with space for both a laptop and a TV.

If home offices are shrinking along with laptops, home theaters continue to grow along with the wide-screen TVs that are rapidly coming down in price. The Consumer Electronics Assn. says it expects sales of flat-panel TVs to top $7.3 billion this year, up 85 percent from a year ago.

Big Screen Solutions
Manufacturers have found four solutions for holding the TVs: consoles that the TVs sit on; consoles with pop-up screens that hide the TV when not in use; entertainment armoires with doors that enclose the screen; and entertainment centers with “walls” on which the TV is mounted. With disagreement still raging among manufacturers over consumers’ wishes, all four options are available.

One of the first to come out with a pop-up screen, Hooker has refined its consoles to hold both storage and the pop-up mechanism. Previously, piers flanking the console provided storage. The new console cuts as much as 2 feet in width off the old footprint.

Kincaid has a patent pending on its C-Box, which converts any chest to a TV console by offering storage room for DVD or other media gear. The box’s two side-by-side compartments provide a surface for the TV to rest.

Besides TV consoles and tables for electronic gaming, consumers next spring will see poker tables, bars and a proliferation of bistro or gathering tables. The 36-inch high tables match kitchen countertops in height, and since the kitchen is a favorite socializing spot, they are handy for holding drinks and snacks, says Kincaid Vice President of Sales and Marketing Todd Hady. “A lot of times, when people stand around in the kitchen, they just stand,” he says.

Sauder offers kitchen storage, while tables in other collections also can do double duty in the kitchen, but nobody is yet offering the kitchen sink. Just give them time. Hooker comes close with additions to its group of bathroom-sink vanities.

Broyhill salutes the success of its five-year-old, nostalgia-based line with this Limited Edition Attic Heirlooms Hall Console. Like many of the new pieces, it’s simple and flexible enough to fit in most anywhere. Most of Century’s New Traditional Collection of bedroom, dining and occasional pieces is made of maple with cerejeira crotch veneers and chestnut crotch veneers, and is in a dark, Espresso finish. But nightstands come in green, black, ivory, blue and dark red.
The solid, rectangular look of this bedroom in Pulaski’s Casa Cristina Cantabria Collection is softened by double mouldings, strips of brass and antiques-inspired hardware. Small but self-sufficient, Hooker’s 4-foot-high Vineyard Desk has a writing surface for a laptop, plus file drawers, and other storage. This “home office in a box” is in the company’s new Vineyard finish, a subtle combination of sage green, putty and russet hues.

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