Modern Upholstery Draws Inspiration from Europe, Africa and Asia

Fabric themes and silhouettes from around the world continue to shape upholstery design at the high end of the price spectrum. Especially with fabrics, whether complete covers or on accent pillows that add excitement with solid tones, global influences can blend together for a pleasing whole.

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Temple Furniture, for example, looks to Europe for inspiration, particularly France. “We focused on color and the beauty of nature and this country, and filled our minds with thoughts of elegant bouquets portraying an array of sunshine,” said Angie Wright, designer. The result is a natural color palette that evokes the French countryside.

 “I believe there is no hiding our Belgian roots” said Paul Delaisse, who handles design and space planning. “Our heritage translates in Verellen’s use of materials, elegance and simplicity. We choose evolution and maturity in design; we don’t have to reinvent ourselves every market. Our sense of conviviality is a reflection of the time and global environment we live in.”

Each year, Huntington House’s leadership team conducts extensive market research across the United States and abroad in order to keep up with the evolution of fashion and technology. “Our fabric collection reflects a diverse array of geographic and cultural influences, meticulously selected from sources all over the world, such as authentic linens from Ireland, rich velvets from Belgium, hand-embroidered silks from India, luxurious chenille from Turkey, and beautifully designed tapestries and prints from all over the United States,” said Christy Grove, director of marketing.

Taylor King merchandising and design team extensively explores fabric and style trends, even to what President and COO Del Starnes called an “open door” policy of scheduling appointments with new and unfamiliar suppliers. “While we use the Internet and home fashion publications to view specific trends, much of our product focus for each upcoming market is centered around our experience at Showtime in High Point each December and June,” he said. “We count on our numerous vendors to conduct the research to set the style trends. Shame on us if we do not shop the market extensively”

“The fashion for the upper end of furniture is very much driven by apparel, which spends far more time and research to create the next greatest trend.”

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Emerging themes

Fabric resource Valdese Weavers sees tribal themes and Asian influences as trends to watch in upholstery covers and accent pillows. “African mud cloths provide beautiful and bold motifs,” Laura Levinson, head designer and creative director at Valdese Weavers, said by way of example. “The marks are abstract and hand drawn, often with blurred edges. The surface interest of these textiles resembles raffia wall coverings or sisal rugs. This thicker ground cloth is often embellished with textural trims and embroidery. The rich earth tone color and natural fiber also play a part in this emerging trend.

“We are also beginning to see Asian influences in textiles. The pottery and ceramics from this culture use incredible novelty motifs often filled with deep cultural meaning. Lotus flowers, pagodas, dragons and tigers are beautiful in full color or colors true to their source. The translucent glazes of the Ming Dynasty porcelain have a watercolor feel to them, which is stunning when replicated in a woven or print.”

Shibori — a Japanese manual resist dyeing technique, which produces patterns on fabric — continues to be a technique that is interpreted into fabric styling, showcasing hand-dyed application of color. “The dip-dyed or resist-dyed aesthetics yield uneven edges and watercolor marks similar to vintage Shibori fabrics,” Levinson noted. “We are starting to see layering of pattern on top of this technique.”

Huntington House also has seen a rise in tribal as well as bohemian influences in recent seasons. “Also, this season we will have a big focus on simplistic, modern, yet comfortable design, which has European roots,” Grove said. Verellen’s fall presentation includes an array of new shapes, elegant curves and additional functionalities. “We are also unfolding some line extensions and a series of amazing textural fabrics,” said Delaisse. “Colors and textures will take you to comforting places. … Think of rich knotted wools, luxurious long-haired fur while dreaming of wide open Nordic spaces and deep blue glacial waters in view with a warming aged cognac in hand.”

Temple Furniture’s Wright believes places such as Dubai, with their advancements in architecture, are very important. “Mixed metals with sleek styles, scale and size are driving the market at this time,” she said. “All areas around the globe are an inspiration to the home furnishings industry. Bold colors with dramatic patterns bring a fresh feeling to a room that is inspiring from several regions.”

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Achieving coherence

 “Verellen’s DNA is a fabric that is spun organically,” Delaisse said. “Our team consists of many nationalities and cultures that are spinning away to put our point across and setting the craft of making forward.” At Temple Furniture, Wright said it’s a matter of having a team of designers with different ideas and thoughts and an ability to listen to one another.

The key to blending multiple materials and elements always centers on the theme of the presentation at Taylor King. “Questions such as, ‘Are we straying away from a more contemporary and casual feeling?’ with a fabric that tends to be more traditional,” Starnes said. Or, “‘Are we forcing a fabric we all love into an introduction just to include it in our assortment?’ Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ when we are able to dedicate a single specific room to this exciting and distinctive fabric.”

“As we all know, style trends come and go relatively quickly, so it presents a challenge to create a product that not only needs to hold up well, but also needs to look fashion-forward for many years,” Grove said. “Therefore we try to interpret trends in a ‘livable’ way, keeping our silhouettes timeless and bringing out various style themes in the accents, allowing the look to be more easily adapted and layered onto over time.”

In developing fabrics with global inspiration, Valdese Weavers is careful to be true to the culture it represents. “We often blend heritage styles with modern layout or color, which provides a fresh twist on an historic motif,” Levinson said. “Often we are inspired by historic textiles for pillows shown with luxury plains that provide a beautiful canvas for highlighting the global inspiration.

Source: Furniture Today

Desmond Ezebuiro

Desmond Ezebuiro

Happy. Skeptical. Kind. Thoughtful. Friendly. Easygoing. Christian. Igbo. Book addict.

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