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Creativity Counts

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, May 18, 2009

In recent weeks there have been a couple of vibrations in the decorative fabrics world that may be an indicator of how business in the home textiles world will evolve over the next few years.

First, there appears to be a slight increase in business at decorative fabric suppliers. Note that this increase is termed "a trickle" in contrast to more euphoric descriptions that would include "an uptick," "cautious optimism" and a host of other well-worn descriptions.

The reality is that in this segment of the home furnishings business orders stopped dead in their tracks several months ago. More recently, however, the lack of inventory —and perhaps even more importantly the lack of newness — prevailed, and decorative jobbers have started looking at and buying new goods.

The emphasis, suppliers report, is that the orders are mostly for new goods rather than reorders for previous collections. From one perspective, it's a good trend because it shows that each level of the market is looking for newness — not same old, same old.

Hopefully this trickle will continue — and even grow. The reality of the day is that there won't be a flood for a long time to come.

From another perspective, there were significant directions emerging from the reports from the few Americans visiting the super luxury Proposte decorative fabric show near Como, Italy earlier this month.

For decorative fabric designers the key word is restraint. Not boring design, just restrained design. Flash is no longer part of the home furnishings idiom. But on the other hand, design and color and texture together need to be fresh but understandable and livable.

Prints once again played a secondary role, but those that were there made important and livable designs statements. An unexpected new star was the wide range of voiles, understated but clear fashion appeal.

In terms of color, there appeared to be no aggressive color — fitting with the times. Tone on tone interpretations and lots of earth tones were prevalent. But apparently — unlike previous incarnations of earth tone domination — the beiges and browns of all shades included a newer purpley brown. All were combined with reds that morphed to many purpley tones.

It's clear that the near future will produce patterns and colors that will last but only if they are developed creatively.

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