As consumers continue to rethink the meaning of “value,” good design and good quality are increasingly a given for all new furniture. People look at both the appearance and the materials of a piece of furniture. Neither is paramount — it’s the combination of the two that has to be just right, in every price range, reflecting a new generation’s questioning of our decades-old “throwaway society” lifestyle.

One unavoidable megatrend in the furnishings sector is the emphasis on materials that look and feel natural. Untreated wood, furniture made of used wood such as old ship planks, felt-covered seating, genuine moss for wall decorations, cork flooring, wooden bathtubs, pressed grasses in the glass walls of shower stalls, the increased use of leather as a furniture covering, animal skins, wooden floors — whatever it is, customers want the feel of natural, genuine and authentic materials.

Laminate and TFM producers have stepped up with new designs and textures, some of which have such a realistic unfinished wood texture that you feel compelled to wipe the sawdust off of your fingertips after touching it. Oak is still everywhere, with new cross-cut laminate designs and textures are emerging, and walnut retains its popularity because it looks expensive and elegant. At the lighter end of the color scale the European markets are still rife with beech, maple, ash, alder and birch.

The ultramodern look is advanced by deceptively thick panels made of lightweight honeycomb panels, some with integrated LED lighting and speaker systems, and by bold, saturated colors offset with natural and even rustic woods and stones.

View the slideshow for a photo essay of notable trends seen at the show.

Kenn Busch also publishes the web site,, a resource for architects and interior designers.

For a list of overlay suppliers, visit

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