I’m just back from Atlanta where I spent a number of days navigating the huge Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market. This market brings together suppliers and buyers from all over the world and provides a great opportunity to see what’s new in the world of gift-giving and home décor.
With this being my first show in Atlanta, I was eager not only to experience the South’s legendary hospitality, but also to discover what the latest trends are. Grab yourself a mint julep or some sweet tea and settle in – there’s a lot to report.
Overall, the show provided me with affirmation on some trends I was already noticing but nothing radically new (at least, not to me). Rather – I saw the fading away of some trends, and the amplification of others. As I walked floor after floor of showrooms and booths, here are my observations. Note that this is only from my personal perspective – someone else might go through the show and notice something completely different, depending on what they’re looking for.
1. Colour – May the neutral room rest in peace.
Not really. There’ll always be room for a neutral, monochromatic space, and I’m still a firm believer in keeping your ‘big ticket’ items neutral (sofas, tables, floors, cabinets, tiles etc…) and adding colour through less expensive items. But – colour is inescapable. Lots and lots of vivid, intense colour.
The most apparent colour trend is citrus. Pantone (the world-renowned authority on colour) named Tangerine Tango the Colour of the Year for 2012. And orange in its many permutations was visible in a majority of the showrooms this year. Tangerine, coral (more red than pink) and persimmon are all popular orangey-based shades. Along with Orange I noticed a lot of lemon yellow and lime green. The yellow and green also showed up shades of citrine, chartreuse, and celadon. Used in small doses (think fabric throws, pillows, occasional chairs, and small pieces of pottery or a lamp base) these colours bring instant happiness and optimism to a room. For those of you who lived with these colours in the 1970’s, they’re not being used the same way. Instead of covering every surface in these hues, they’re being limited to a ‘pop’ against a more neutral colour – often white, grey or…
A perennial favorite, blue is everywhere this year. And blue is often being used as a neutral, in upholstery, rugs, drapery, and wall colour and is being paired with almost anything else. My personal favorites are blue-black, French blue and robin’s egg. I saw less teal and turquoise than I was expecting to. Along the same vein, I kept hearing that pink is making a comeback – I saw no real evidence of this, but I have no doubt it’s coming.
Grey is still going strong as a foil for the other vibrant accent colours. Most popular appears to be charcoal grey and a warm grey I’d describe as the colour of a mouse or a mushroom. I personally am not a big fan of using charcoal as a wall colour for an entire room in this climate, but I won’t deny its drama and power. Chalkboard paint is also a popular way to use this grey colour. I’ll also admit to day-dreaming about a charcoal grey room with hits of orange and robin’s egg blue. Who wants to let me try this out at their place?
I’ll close this section off by saying this. Taupe is dead. For real.
2. Metals – It’s all in the mix
This has been the case for a while, but we continue to see metals being mixed. Rather than seeing rooms done in ‘all silver’ or ‘all gold’ tones – the most dynamic spaces have a variety of metallic tones and a variety of finishes, from plated, to matte, to hammered, to raw. Gold tones are back in a huge way - actually, this has been the case for a while (loving it on cabinet hardware, but done in a very sleek way), and we still see a lot of raw metal and zinc, which ties into our next trend.
3. Wood tones – natural and reclaimed
The trend toward the use of reclaimed wood continues, and woods in driftwood tones are the rage. I first spotted this at Restoration Hardware. The dark espresso coloured wood tones appear to be out of favour, replaced with lighter tones, and finishes are more ‘raw’ looking, again, like driftwood or weathered teak. We’re still seeing lots of lacquered finishes – an interesting contrast to the raw, reclaimed look.
4. Industrial Age & Green Movement
Still going strong. One of the strongest examples of this is the Edison bulb, which seemed to be everywhere. I was dining at a restaurant in midtown Atlanta where these bulbs were suspended en masse from basic fixtures from the ceiling. The effect is fantastic. We’re still also re-purposed gears and industrial equipment into tables, lamps and wall art. Speaking of wall art, industrial age posters are still very popular, including vintage propaganda posters. And of course – the ‘green’ movement in home decor is still huge. Reclaimed, repurposed and recycled is EVERYWHERE. Word of caution – this is beginning to look a bit too ‘themed’. Please be selective with your reclaimed pieces.
5. Global Village
This is another trend that shows no sign of abating… and I’d be surprised if it ever does. Items that look like they’ve been acquired over time, from world travels are still very popular. Ideally, I like to see a home where these pieces actually come from people’s own travels and experiences – nonetheless, it’s great that so many items are available that already have a ‘story’. I was especially intrigued by the Mexican pottery and death dolls I was seeing. Not really my ‘thing’ but interesting nonetheless.
6. Curiosities and Marine Life
This is a fascinating trend for me, in that for me, it’s the antithesis of what I tend to like. I’m seeing a lot of small collected items under glass in glass boxes and under glass cloches. Feathers, eggs, bugs, shells and other items are combined with items such as magnifying glasses, hourglasses, postcards, stamps and other ephemera. Along the same lines is a trend involving small terrariums. I’ve often said people love ‘birds and bugs, birds and bugs’ and that still appears to be the case.
Another trend is Marine Life. Most of us have seen pillows or prints with coral embroidered or printed on them – this trend is expanded to include whales, urchins, and one of the most popular new motifs is the octopus. Brace yourselves – you’ll be seeing them everywhere.
The most apparent trend in textiles to me was the use of felt. This fabric showed up on pillows, placemats, coasters, and storage baskets, bins and bags. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing this one for a while – it’s practical, tactile and luxurious in its simplicity. I love it.
As far as patterns go, zigzags are everywhere in the form of chevrons and flame-stich (remember that from the 80’s?). We’re still seeing a lot of trellis prints, which still look fresh to me.
I was surprised not to see more florals and old-school chintz. I suspect it won’t be long before we start seeing it everywhere, as it’s already appearing in Europe.
So… I’ve found a number of new suppliers and have placed a few orders for the Spring, surely with more to come. You can expect to see some of these trends on display at G3 Living over the coming weeks as I tweak the store – new paint, more colour, changes in the layout are all being dreamed about as I write this. Dreams for another buying trip are happening too. Who wants to subsidize a trip to Maison et Objet in Paris? You can come with me and we can discover what’s new together while drinking wine and eating cheese and bread. Sound good?
As an aside – just because something is a trend doesn’t mean we have to be a slave to it. Your home should be a reflection of you and work for the way you live. That being said, are you excited by some of these trends but not sure how to incorporate them at home? Book me for a consultation and I’d be happy to help you bring your home into the new year.