Market was more blah than bling.
There was no vibe of energy or excitement.
In numerous showrooms or booths the representatives there did not even look up from their screens. Some were texting, some were gaming, some were skyping the kids, some were watching movies.
No packed showrooms even though I met several buyers who had planned to fly in Monday but couldn't until Wednesday when the ATL airport re-opened. I had worried the market would be packed with the compression of days but there were no crowds. The few semi-crowded show rooms were Donna Karan Home, Pine Cone Hill, Blue Ocean Traders and one handing our Haagen Daz ice cream bars.
Even at Firefly, Imax, Interlude, Trina Turk, Tara Shaw, Napa Home & Garden, Vietri the reps were standing in the halls visiting, not in the showroom meeting , greeting or selling. Still some of my reps said, "It's been a good market. Well, not 07 'good' but better than 09 or 10". What I observed is most companies had made an effort to offer new introductions with minimum risk. A rational choice, but boring results. Most took their top 20% and tweaked, expanded or recolored these best sellers. Most new introductions were gorgeous lighting with clean lines, glitzy material combinations like crystal and steel mesh and hugely scaled. Not a lot of color anywhere except in area rugs, linens and soft accessories. Most of the whimsy was limited to tabletop and gifts with a splash here and there in the garden accessories. Even the art was lifeless.
Really interesting was the huge number of designs or products derived from, depicting or mimicking sea life. So much so that I found myself thinking this was the response to the Gulf oil spill traumas. Another manifestation of the deep sadness felt over the past year, many showrooms and many of the new furniture finishes are "driftwood", "weathered", "beachtones" ... all words evoking the Gulf. Most are derived from finishing techniques of liming, whitewashing or pickling. Interesting finishes and techniques, but drabby. I have rarely seen markets with so little color. Lots of charcoal, taupe, smokey neutrals. So much so I found myself yearning for a splash of Honeysucke Pink! There was some but the biggest splash was an article in HFN not products in the showrooms. ( Note to Moi: The publications like HFN , Furniture World and Home Accents Today could use some improvement in their writing staff!)
I enjoyed a lunch break with a shop owner from Kennebunkport ME. Her business is not seasonal, she is open year round and she sports a clientele which " is not effected by changes in the economy." She has a point, if you are down from $380 million to just $300 million you still can buy pretty much whatever you want. But her business too has issues. She cannot find the new, different, exciting merchandise her clients desire. To quote her, " same old, same old". She had been at market four days by the time we met. In that time she claims to have done systematic grid searches to little avail. Poor thing had buckets of money to spend and no place to spend it. Our discussion led to the revelation she had not gone to the temporaries . I told her of some things I saw there which did not suit my needs but might fit her yen for a hot new introduction. I even had literature which abruptly ended the lunch as she pursued the possibility of " a find".
( Note to Chickory: A week before the Christmas in July Market go to Kennebunkport and pre sell every ornament you can make between now and then)
Actually my most exciting "find" was a corporate executive drop out who makes fabulous furniture and lighting from industrial salvage. Steel framed consoles with suspended , rusted cogs, or gears or wheels.
I so liked his stuff but it would be unusual if I had a client who would have his functional art in their homes. Truth is, it wouldn't be a good fit in my home either. But anyone with an Urban Modern vibe, a Loft feel or even like Mermaid, a high ceilinged in Barn apartment could rock this look. I could design an entire restaurant/bar around this mans work. If only.
Most notable was the HUGE Eastern influences on every kind of design. Elements of classic Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu religious architecture were everywhere. In furniture silhouettes, in fabric and rug designs, in artwork, in lighting, tiles, even tabletop and garden products. I thought, oh-oh these are designs from the East ! Until recently our goods were designed HERE but manufactured there and shipped to America. Now, I guess as an economic "saving" American companies are not designing , they are buying existing designs from the East. They modify the designs by limiting the enhancements of mirrors, beads, contrast stitching, cutwork, metals and the colors. The designs are Eastern, the color palettes have been made neutral for incorporation into American decor. I found this trend disturbing. Had these elements been prevalent in the Jaipur Home showroom only I would understand completely. There are large Indian communities here who wish to buy the traditional furniture of their home culture. I did not expect to see this from long established, top of the line American companies. Which I found very disturbing.
|Very large wall sculptures were everywhere
|reworked designs in new finishes
|Horrifying Honeysuckle Venetian Glass Chandeliers
|Embroidered batiste for Aunty in the temporaries
|Heads were hanging on every wall over in the gifts
|Some quiet color
|Loved this salvage made furniture and lighting
|Every type of sealife was popular in every category
|Can you tell this copper Mermaid weathervane was nearly lifesized?
|Cocky Papier Mache Roosters
|Abundance, but not much that is new or different
|colorful graphics in accent items
|Oil jugs for Ali Babba and his 40 best friends
|"Green" design not greendesign
|Loaded with color over in tabletops
|I understand candles are fun, cheap decor but really I've had enough.
|Sealife in every medium!