Taking trends to the next level: Color is just one tool in the toolbox


ATLANTA — Buyers looking for 2023’s secret sauce of trends left Atlanta Market with a healthy recipe of retail ingredients to include in their product mix.

Signature programming including First Look East and Ahead of the Curve, among others, outlined some of the trends expected to influence consumer expenditures in the year ahead. And while trends forecasts are omnipresent at the start of every new year, they remain an important part of the retail equation, according to Norwalk President Caroline Hipple.

“Our job is to make our retailers and designers heroes,” she said. “Part of how we do that is to share our knowledge of color, fabrics, finishes and trends.”

A former retailer, Hipple knows firsthand how important it is to interpret what’s trending in a meaningful way on the retail floor. Noting that she doesn’t mind being copied by other manufacturers because she’s already preparing for the “next thing” by the time something appears on the Norwalk showroom floor, Hipple says that recognizing when a trend moves into a new realm is also part of the process.

“Some ubiquitous trends move softly into core,” she said. “Think about linen — it’s definitely core now — and I think boucle’ is going to be core. We started seeing it in Europe in 2017, and it supports the desire to be cozy, a sort of upholstery ‘hug’ that corresponds with the evolution of hygge.”

Hipple’s supposition mirrors some of the 2023 forecasts presented at Atlanta Market. In the First Look East trends program, curator Julie Smith Vincenti outlined three core themes for retailers and designers to incorporate into their product mix: Amplify, Care and Explore.

Under the Amplify heading, Vincenti presented furniture, décor and gift items that nod to favorite seasons and destinations, while Explore included a range of furnishings that encapsulate a “Lodge meets Modern Farmhouse” aesthetic as well as outdoor furniture against an underlying theme of “venture forth” for the post-pandemic consumer. For the Care category theme, Vincenti incorporated products for home that “create a comforting, reassuring or bountiful vibe.”

The Ahead of the Curve panel at Atlanta Market included interior designers Michel Smith Boyd, Whitney McGregor, Kelly Finley and Jeremy Clark. Each designer was asked to identify a home design trend for 2023, interpret the trend and select product that represented the trend at market. Key influences for 2023 identified by the designers included: The Importance of the Artisan, Modern Arches, Minimalism + Neutrals, and Geometry Lessons.

“Whether it be a hand-thrown ceramic lamp or woven rattan furnishings crafted in a family-owned workshop, a story dedicated to the pieces collected for a home is more important than ever,” said Clark.

McGregor noted a “resurgence of basic shapes including triangle lampshades, oversize circle pendants and exaggerated box upholstery.”

“Adding simple shapes to any space provides instant chic and a subtle nod back to beloved ‘OGs’ like David Hicks, Albert Hadley and Angelo Donghia,” she said. “Returning to a classic form means you can work in any space or aesthetic.”

Finley said that she is observing a “fun and creative” approach to arches in both architecture and furnishings.

“I consider arches to be fairly traditional, but there seems to be a movement toward arches in a more modern way with less ornate detailing and subtle touches,” Finley reported. “They are being featured in door frames and in the legs of tables and chairs.”

Boyd noted that he is encouraging his clients to collect “fewer, but better things,” as he does for himself, adding that he is embracing a color palette on display in many showrooms.

“Amazing case goods and luxurious upholstery add to my visual and tactile experience, and there’s no need to muddy that with too many accessories — edit!” Boyd stated. “I’m also all about earthy neutrals right now.”

Buyers who missed the Atlanta Market presentations can register for the West Coast versions of Ahead of the Curve and First Look to be held at Las Vegas Market. AHOC will be on July 26 during the summer market and feature Monica Wilcox, Sarah Kennedy, Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein and Eva Bradley. First Look West will take place onsite at the upcoming Las Vegas Market on Jan. 30. Interested buyers can register online.

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