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Owner & Designer
IBB Design Fine Furnishings
Owner, Gary Inman Home
Founder, Hospitality At Market
Our dynamic 2021 Style Spotters team embodies the best qualities of our industry. In this report, you will see eight unique design perspectives, a razor-sharp focus on design trends, and an ear for the stories behind the extraordinary products they discovered. You will also see the vibrancy and innovation displayed at Spring 2021 Market, a true testament to the resilience of the home furnishings industry after an exceptionally difficult year.
The Style Spotters noted a juxtaposition of two major philosophical approaches in current design. One is that the streamlined profiles of Art Deco and the emergence of vibrant colors and bold patterns, first observed at the October 2020 Market, are clearly gaining momentum. The celebration of luxurious fabrics and finishes seemed to represent optimism and celebration as we emerge from the pandemic. The color stories were diverse, but green and blue remained very strong and spice tones such as ocher, cinnamon, and umber, as well as cognac and terracotta took center stage. Black wood finishes were a standout for their graphic strength and gravitas.
Materiality, particularly organic materials such as jute, rope, and pencil rattan, as well as unexpected combinations of materials, captured the attention of designers. We’re seeing greater use of leather and stone in lighting. Burls, artisan finishes like Venetian plaster, and the mixing of Lucite with wood created design tension, energy, and a tactile experience that beckoned to be touched.
The rich palette of materials was further enhanced by strong architectural references and sinuous, elegant forms such as the new McGuire Collection by Thomas Pheasant. There were clear references to iconic sculptors such as Brancusi, and the hammered finishes of Giacometti were omnipresent throughout Market. The pandemic appears to have allowed product designers the opportunity to reflect on iconic personalities from our past and bring their visionary aesthetics forward in innovative ways. This surge of creativity extended to the Style Spotters team as well with three members launching collections.
Sara Malek Barney
Unique and unexpected shape is a design element that always catches my attention, so I was very excited to see asymmetrical shapes being used on a lot of the new offerings at Market. Historically, symmetrical designs have been known to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but designers have come to love the visual interest that an abstract piece brings to a space. Asymmetry debuted in all sorts of categories, from case goods to accessories, but lighting has to be my favorite way to apply this trend. Visual Comfort’s Asymmetrical Sconce by Kelly Wearstler features oblique arms and alabaster shades, giving the fixture a refreshing, modern appeal.
HIGH BACK UPHOLSTERY
Upholstery looked a bit different this year in comparison to the low-profile pieces in the past. At Spring Market, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of high-back sofas, chairs, and settees that I saw. I love this look for upholstery because it adds an element of sophistication to a piece, as well as bringing height and structure to the space that it’s being used in. Wesley Hall showcased this trend brilliantly, especially with their Laslo Sofa. The Global Views Duncan Chair was also a favorite for this trend. High-back accent seating is a great option when you’re looking to define a space and cozy it up, so I’m super excited with the selections that were displayed at Market.
We’ve all seen a lot of rattan furnishings in the last year or so, but this year it’s all in the details. Pencil rattan, a gorgeous and slender reed, was stealing the spotlight in furnishings, lighting, and decor this year at Market. I absolutely love this way of using rattan, as it brings a vintage and bohemian feel while also being a cleaner, more modern take on the material. Arteriors used pencil rattan on the Heath Coffee Table, giving the piece a beautiful, earthy texture. Made Goods, on the other hand, took this trend a different route and applied it to a set of baskets — form meets function!
I’ve always enjoyed spending time exploring nature and I look to the outdoors to find unexpected elements for my design projects. Blending my two passions — design and horseback riding — I am able to create interiors that evoke a sense of relaxation and are reminiscent of time spent outdoors. At Market I look for pieces that can be found in nature such as jute or rope, warm wood tones and natural stone table tops. A few striking pieces composed of natural elements included Palecek’s Woodside Canopy Bed, Summer Classics’ Prescott Outdoor Chandelier, and Hooker Furniture’s Amani Rope and Glass Cocktail Table.
Texture comes in many forms in design and I love to use this element to add depth and interest to any space. A room should feel collected, not decorated, and a simple way to achieve this is through textural elements. As I was walking through Market, I found this trend across the board from lighting and wallpaper to decorative accents and furnishings. The Zina Accent Table from Bernhardt, made of cast concrete in a raised geometric pattern, is a striking way to add depth, especially if placed next to a plush upholstered chair. The Spa Collection Etagere from Charleston Forge uses beautifully textured forged base material with glass or wood shelving inserts. A few other striking textural pieces include the Barbana Chair from Arteriors with its iron frame and chenille fabric, the Waterfall desk from Phillips Collection, and the Claiborne Sideboard with faux-crackled textured doors, from John-Richard.
GREEN WITH ENVY
My love of color is to the moon and back! I was thrilled to see so many rich and vibrant colors sprinkled throughout Market (with an emphasis on green). It’s a stark and welcome contrast to the neutrals that we have seen over the past couple of years. Neutrals are still celebrated for large pieces like sectionals, area rugs, and even walls, while color adorns accent pieces that add life and personality to a space. The Gretel Lounge Chair from Made Goods stopped me in my tracks — it is inspired by a peacock’s feathers and will be a showstopper in any room. The Boen Bar Cabinet in vibrant green, designed by Shayla Copas for Chelsea House, combines style and storage. Among other green favorites were bedding from Peacock Alley and a collection of kitchen necessities from etuHOME, all in forest green.
After enduring a tough year, it feels like we’re finally coming up for air and turning new pages in our lives and in our interior design. People are absolutely craving personal spaces filled with comfort and connection, and this current trend in home design mirrors these desires.
‘Out’ are the gray, cold, and disconnected design trends and ‘in’ are textures and textiles with a warm color palette featuring dusty pinks, burnt oranges, and elegant browns, as well as deep, plush sofas that your whole family can sink into while watching a movie.
Style and design are finally meeting with functionality. As a designer who’s always prioritized comfort and connection, I’m all in for this trend.
Another trend I spotted at High Point Market is a return to a more traditional aesthetic, which I think goes hand in hand with people’s desire to feel comfy and connected.
I saw a heightened attention to detail with furniture in particular this year. Instead of the more standard, square chunk of wood, we saw beautifully-carved, wooden legs on chairs and sofas which shows that manufacturers are focused on the finer details, which often means higher quality as well.
Just like your grandmother’s antiques that were passed down to you, these new pieces exude the kind of timeless elegance (and quality!) that’ll inspire you to pass down your ‘Antique Chic’ furniture to your own grandchildren one day.
This trend is showing up especially in wooden pieces. I saw so many beautiful credenzas, bookcases, stools, and chests that were enhanced with various engravings and interesting surface structures. I think people are missing being able to travel, and they find themselves drawn to these unique pieces that feel and look like they were collected from across the globe, but are available right here at High Point Market. I think we will continue to see everyday items with these extra special touches that feel exclusive and rare.
Particularly popular right now is the inclusion of Lucite in a range of furniture and decor items from frames to table bases. Subtly added to the right products in just the right way, it can really showcase the item’s beauty! When it isn’t overdone, but instead used as an accent, Lucite helps to highlight other elements in a piece. A Lucite handle almost disappears in all the right ways on a drawer. This isn’t the Lucite from the 70s, it’s sophisticated and modern, and I think it’s going to be around for a while.
EARTHY WITH NATURAL ELEMENTS
Perhaps one of the most widely seen trends is the use of stone, wood, rattan and other natural materials. It is an excellent way to keep us connected to the outdoors, and to satisfy our longing for the grounding nature of organic pieces. I saw stunning stone chairs and benches, and even lighting fixtures that incorporated stone. These items looked as if they were literally carved from the earth. The beauty of natural elements remains unmatched.
Molly Kay Johns
MIXING IT UP!
One element I noticed over and over at Spring Market was the use of leather and fabric upholstery together in one piece. This use of material was not just at higher end vendors but was in use throughout all price points. It was also seen not only on large scale sofas but on everything from dining chairs to ottomans to pillows. This trend allows someone to really customize a piece and set it apart from anything else by giving it it’s own unique look in pattern, texture, and color. You can keep it monochromatic but textural like this Tanner sofa by Chaddock Furniture, or this Toomey dining chair by Abner Henry. I really love what mixing materials can do for an upholstered piece of furniture and from what I saw at Market, it is a trend that is hot this year and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!
THE BEAUTY OF IMPERFECTION
Burl Wood on a tree in nature is a deformity that creates an intricate growth ring pattern that can look like swirls. I saw plenty of Burl Wood at Market this June and I love its kaleidoscope of swirls and marbled twists even though it is actually a mutation or an imperfection in the wood. I saw it on everything from dressers and desks to trays and console tables like this favorite of mine with brass capped feet from Bungalow 5. And it was also on mirrors, decorative bowls, and dining chairs like these gorgeous ones from Worlds Away. Burl Wood can be dark, glamorous, and timeless, like on this gold-leafed bar unit by Abner Henry. And it can also be more edgy, light, and modern. Although this trend is not just emerging now, I did see a lot of it at this Market — and on quite a few new pieces. It’s definitely hot for 2021, and I am here for it!
Throughout Market, I saw beautiful, ebonized wood furniture. From case goods to the trim on upholstered pieces, black wood was everywhere. When a piece of black furniture is situated in a room setting, it is a striking contrast to the rest of the room’s palette. These finishes also featured various treatments that enhance and showcase the beauty of the wood grain. In particular, the Japanese treatment Shou Sugi Ban, previewed by Hooker Furniture, showed that black finishes really are beautiful and sophisticated.
Merging an artistic sensibility with function, many furniture and lighting pieces presented at Market took on the sense of sculpture, delighting the eye with curves, shapes, and color. They were beautiful to look at and would add an artistic flair to any interior, while still providing both form and function.
The NeKeia chandelier from Ngala Trading is luxury encompassed in hand cut leather strips and solid brass. It provides both freedom in movement and clean lines that are bold and striking. The NeKeia comes in an array of colors and can be customized in height. Created entirely by hand by South African artisans, the raw and natural element of the leather strips are what give this chandelier its clean flair.
The Deneuve Cabinet by Julian Chichester is at the top of the necessity list. Over the last two years, we’ve seen an increase in the demand for pieces that combine storage, functionality, and aesthetics. You can get creative and push it’s functionality to the max. Test it out as a liquor cabinet or blanket storage. The Deneuve presents a curved body and the hand beaten brass inlay acts as the “cherry on top” for this luxe piece.
The Trieste Bench from Mr. Brown London is a gold, hammered work of art. With it’s curved seat and clean lines, we are met at the door with a classic and artistic vibe. A mirrored seat to floor juxtaposition gifts us the perfect bench. The Trieste is ideal for the person who loves the hammered gold/brass trend. The ability to incorporate heirlooms and prized possessions into design is what it’s all about.
Wexel Art has brought us the acrylic scarf frame style. It’s perfect for that scarf that was handed down through generations or the one you’ve been waiting to purchase from the store. This frame allows for endless possibilities, freedom of expression and brings a contemporary and edgy feel. It is kissed with a touch of gold added for flair.
The smooth-sailing waterfall effect of the Rene Long bench from Julian Chichester makes it just perfect for a foyer or a bedroom suite. Upholstered in a clean and textured shagreen paired with an Oxblood leather, this piece is unmatched in beauty.
The Bardot sofa by South + English is the perfect pink cloud of softness. Its luxe curves bring an immeasurable amount of character that brings its artistic form to life. Though its curves are quite trendy, this piece tells a classic and luxurious tale.
One of my favorite vintage pieces, the Ekstrom chair by Modern Love Furniture, is what functionality and contemporary art is all about. With both striking curves and color, this fun vintage find will make you eager to have a seat.
The DeSede Sofa — also known as the “Non-Stop” sofa — is a luxurious leather caterpillar, able to be connected and disconnected by hooks and zippers. Created in 1970, this piece has made its way back around on the trending wheel. It was featured in the movie Scarface and is non stop fun!
A notable influence at Spring Market was a handmade quality of construction and finishing that I saw across multiple categories. What makes this trend interesting is the idea of the human hand being involved in larger production runs, and also the air of randomness and sensuousness that it gives to the pieces.
The art, craft, and technology of weaving has been an integral part of our species since the beginning of time. The multitude of current pieces of woven construction maintains that origin-feeling. While some pieces are rhythmic and others are studied perfection, there is a sophistication in the weaves, though they also feel very elemental.