Dealers at the fall market in High Point unveiled a number of traditional, time-honored pieces. Art Deco continued to be a popular offering, as well as casual, European-influenced furniture. Overall, the styles offered felt familiar and secure.

With a few exceptions.

Tucked away in corners or among occasional pieces werethe misfits? The crazy ideas? At the very least they were pieces that took risks and offered an alternative to the mainstream offerings that dominated the premium areas of the showrooms.

Still center stage

Century-old Broyhill Furniture Industries Inc. of Lenoir, N.C., introduced its American Era line, which is a good style example of what many manufacturers showed at market. The American Era collection features contemporary styling mixed with country and elements of traditional design. Pieces have figured cherry veneers and wormy maple solids with polished pewter hardware.

"Many consumers are looking for furniture that has the familiar elements they grew up with, but want an updated look for their homes," said Tom Lentz, vice president, Broyhill Furniture Industries Inc.

Tried and true

Pulaski Furniture Co., Pulaski, Va., also stayed in the mainstream, introducing three new collections. The Terracina collection reflects the feel of Italy's coast. Furniture details include oak veneers with inlays of white ash burl. The Amherst collection is a classic English-inspired collection in swirly white ash burl and finished in clear antique cherry. The Tribeca Loft collection features transitional-deco pieces finished in deep cherry.

Not to be outdone, Lenoir, N.C.-based Bernhardt Furniture Co. introduced three collections as well. The Soleil collection includes transitional-deco pieces with white ash burls, figured European quartered ash veneers and a golden caramel finish. The Market Street collection mixes together neoclassic, empire, Louis Phillipe and rococo styles. Pieces are finished in dark Bordeaux on pin knotty cherry with myrtle cluster veneers and black inlay lines. The Stonebrier collection features traditional English pieces with pin knotty cherry veneers and a dark brownstone finish.

Deceptive appearances

Despite the mainstream emphasis in most showrooms, a number of manufacturers nonetheless took some creative license. Aspen Furniture, Phoenix, Ariz., offered up the Young Classics collection, tagged as "Geared for today's young and young-at-heart homeowners."

The collection is inspired by the early Federal Period and includes architectural details from Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello. The Young Classics collection includes an 11-piece bedroom group of traditional pieces.

What is not traditional about the pieces are multiple, hidden storage areas for valuables, and a hidden valet for scarves or ties. The collection's night table includes a hidden night-light and serving tray as well as extra AC outlets and a telephone jack.

New wave from Vermont

Another company that departed a bit from the norm was Copeland Furniture of Bradford, Vt. For nearly three decades Copeland has successfully produced wood furniture in cherry, hard maple, ash and American black walnut. Copeland labels its furniture as "transitional, neither strictly contemporary nor traditional, but rather a combination of elements that incorporate classic proportion with modern simplicity."

The Copeland collections offered at market reflected styles seen in many other showrooms Shaker, Arts and Crafts and variations on the ever-popular transitional-deco.

What was unusual in Copeland's offering was its Wave collection. Unmistakably contemporary, the Wave collection features a platform bed with a panel headboard machine-carved with waves, intended to be "reminiscent of sand ripples at low tide." The collection's nightstand, armoire and three chests all have drawers that are accessed by a wave-shaped depression in the drawer dividers.

Vintage with a twist

Conover, N.C.-based Laneventure definitely moved out of the mainstream with its Raymond Waites Vintage collection. Of particular note was Waites' eye-popping Demi-Lune Case.

The Demi-Lune Case is hand-painted in the style of Russian-born artist Wassily Kandinsky, widely recognized as one of the first creators of purely abstract painting. A controversial artist during the early twentieth century, Kandinsky's style is still a grabber.

The piece is done with muted primary colors and includes three storage drawers, side doors with touch latches and antique silver accents.

"Vintage is a design philosophy unique to itself, because it encompasses so much," Waites said. "It is our history, it is our heritage. It is what we love and what we choose to surround our lives with, from our travels around the world."

Back to the future

For many companies, certain decades of the last century offered inspiration for non-traditional pieces. Magnussen Home, New Hamburg, Ontario, looked to the mid-twentieth century for ideas for its Sydney collection of occasional tables. Magnussen's Shaped Cocktail Table features glass and wood with a clear maple finish, accented with chrome and black marble. The table features swiveling waterfall glass on casters for versatility. The piece exudes a 1950s' popular sensibility.

For others, the 1980s seemed to serve as inspiration. Lane Home Furnishings, Tupelo, Miss., debuted the Oakley Square group of cocktail tables as part of its Lane Occasional line. Finished in a light oak, the largest table has glass inserts on its top and shelves, rounded corners and leather-topped stools with ribbed veneers, circa 1980.

Hooker Furniture, Martinsville, Va., made no secret of its move away from mainstream styles with its Modern Classics collection, which it describes as both "traditional with a modern interpretation" and "modern with traditional influences."

"We wanted to transcend transitional and cross rigid style borders, creating a collection that people would be drawn to instinctively because of all the reference points in the group," said Kenneth Williams, vice president of merchandising for Hooker.

Hooker made a particular point of showcasing a 1980s-style wall storage bed, called Pier Bed Wall. The piece features hidden storage in the bottom of the headboard, a touch light and an electrical strip. According to Williams, Hooker has not had a wall storage bed in its line in over 20 years. "We feel this bed format may resonate with people again," Williams said.

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