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Cecile Corral

Atlanta Rug Vendors Resolute

Area rug makers toughed out a lightly attended Atlanta International Area Rug Market, which got off to a slower-than-expected start and ended with an even slower finish. Showrooms and corridors here were quiet during most of the four-day event. A smattering of buyers from department stores, catalogs, web-based retailers and rug and furniture dealersn attended, but they were few and hard to find.

On the upside, area rug suppliers came in force and armed themselves with many new wares, with special buys at sharp price points, and packaged deals abounding. But with the economy still struggling and showing signs of possibly getting worse, few retailers made an appearance for the summer market, even though suppliers emphasized that those who made appointments arrived and filled out orders.

As one top executive of a major U.S. manufacturer noted on retailer attendance, "We may not have quantity this market, but we do have quality. Those who made appointments showed up and came to shop."

Eco-friendly and U.S.-made goods proved the widespread themes. Here are some examples of the key products and programs Atlanta exhibitors fronted:

Hellenic Rug Imports debuted its new licensed program with Southern Living Magazine. A special launch party for the line — which includes furniture and bedding by other licensees — is planned for the Las Vegas market.

The company has added patterns to its designer collection with HGTV celebrity Candice Olson, with more to come in Las Vegas.

Domestic product is another focal point. Hellenic's Athena and Rhodes custom-order programs comprise wool rugs made to look like sisal. Using wool from Hellenic's operations in Greece, the rugs are manufactured at the company's Calhoun, Ga., facility. They represent a growing component, accounting for about 15% of the total sales, said president Steve Mazarakis.

Shaw Living continues to push its eco-friendly initiatives with added offerings of recyclable rugs. The new Museum of New Mexico collection, which employs native American-inspired patterns drawn from the museum's collected works, is just one collection donning Shaw's new "Green" tags that outline the company's "eco-friendly, made in the U.S.A., and available for immediate shipping" competitive advantages with these specific products.

Also new from Shaw is the next generation of competitively priced rugs. Titled Concepts, this sister collection to the existing and popular Accents program, is bedecked in a complimenting but softer palette. A 5-foot-by-8-foot piece is set to retail for $329.

Shaw brought back holiday accent rugs to its assortment after a two-year absence in the category. The collection comprises 11 holiday themes, some in traditional interpretations and others with contemporary points of view. They all come as 2-foot-7-inch-by-3-foot-10-inch pieces.

Capel Inc. is also on the earth-friendly bandwagon, doing its part for the planet, it said, via several offerings in braided rugs styles. Earthright is an organic cotton grouping available in four colors. Its eco qualities take its retail price to a higher-than-average $480, a considerable step up from Capel's typical $300 braid.

By comparison, price is not an issue — rather it's a plus — with the reprocessed yarn collection titled Ragtime. These pieces, which are made of synthetic yarns that would have otherwise been destined for the trash, were recycled into colorful braids that retail for less than Capel's average — $150 vs. $300, for example.

Couristan's new Organique collection is the company's hat tip to the environment. Its 100% hand-dyed jute content is only one half of the environmental story here — its hand-spun construction, which softens the jute, is the other.

Also nodding to the environment was Kas Rugs with its Natura collection. This unbleached, unprocessed, un-dyed collection of 100% wool rugs comes in organic patterns. Positioned at the Kas mid-level price bracket, a 5-foot-by-8-foot piece is set to retail for $399.

Broadloom is another concentration for Couristan going forward. The company is gearing up for the fall launch of almost 50 new products, including coordinate pieces in area rug and runner dimensions. Constructions are to include cut-pile, cut and loop, Wilton woven and others.

United Weavers is recycling pre-used synthetic yarns to create a new collection: Patio is a new grouping of indoor/outdoor rugs that have been treated for UV effects and are weather resistant. Its two-tone patterns — spanning trellis and botanical looks through atypical contemporary designs — are set to retail for $99 for a 5-by-8.

Surya presented its three new licensed programs — Bob Mackie, B. Smith and Cosmo/Seventeen magazine — with a broad assortment of designs and construction specific to each line. On that same note, the company expanded its Cabana Joe-branded program with new 100% polypropylene hand-hooked indoor/outdoor rugs.

Cosmo/Seventeen-branded rugs target the tween and teen markets with retro, colorful and whimsical patterns. Constructions include acrylic, mod-acrylic and printed nylon.

Bob Mackie rugs take their cue from the fashion designer's couture styles; the three collections are London, Moderne and Nouveau.

Model and TV celebrity B. Smith's new rug program includes two collections — Sag Harbour and Mosaic.

Jaipur's new Pebble Beach collection is a fresh take on shag rugs. These sheared varieties are solid colored and constructed with low maintenance and comfort in mind. They come in 12 colors and are set to retail for $499. A new hemp line offers a natural fiber option.

For indoor/outdoor use, Jaipur is showing a new 100% polypropylene hooked collection called Frontera. The patterns are a far cry from typical coastal looks; the pieces feature large-scale corals, puppy feet, pears, architectural wrought iron patterns and others.

This week, Jaipur unveils its 3,400-square-foot permanent showroom in Las Vegas, space C-824 at the World Market Center. The company will also double its High Point showroom to 2,500 square feet in time for the October market.

Kaleen Rugs brought a broad range of new programs to Atlanta. Its "Paula Deen" licensed program is being expanded in time for the High Point Market in October.

Nourison's new Harbour Ridge collection employs a combination cut-loop pile construction for a tweed-like textured solid look. The company is including its "blanket statement" with this line to allow retailers to use the overhang to display the breadth of colors available in each style. Hand-tufted in India of 100% wool, Harbour Ridge rugs come as runners and through 8-by-11 sizes and are set to retail for $499.

Other highlights are the design additions to the existing and top-selling collections Jaipur, Heritage Hall, Parallels and Nourison 2000.

Central Oriental/Natco is taking a different approach with its domestic manufacturing. In an effort to be "flexible" with its color use, the company is "willing to take down our creel to offer more colors" to its middle- to higher-end offerings, said Jim Thompson, vp, sales and marketing. One such collection is the new U.S.A.-made Dimensions, a 1.3 million point mechanically carved line in earth tones and contemporary looks.

The company also experimented with color in its space-dyed assortment and came up with the new Patina collection. It combines space-dyed and heat-set yarns for a new palette and color story.

Karastan expanded its Artworks collection, which falls under its Studio by Karastan program, to offer its growing customer base more design options. The best-selling Plum Blossom pattern now comes in a round size in the mocha and robin's egg colorways. Two new contemporary/transitional patterns, Wildflowers and Isola, speak to new color trends in melon and graphite hues — respectively — and younger consumers. Prices for these pieces, at about $699, are more competitive than Karastan's more upscale offerings.

Also new to the Studio by Karastan line are three pattern additions to the Carriage House collection.

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