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GHF hangs hopes on Indian designer

Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, July 9, 2001

The soft window coverings line of Guilford Home Fashions now has something to hang on.

Guilford and designer Michael Aram have signed an agreement for the New York-based home textiles arm of Guilford Mills to market a new window hardware line designed by Aram.

"Guilford has been a good name for so long in the home textiles field so Michael felt they were a great place to start," said Kenny Mack, sales manager for the Hoboken, NJ-based Michael Aram Inc. "Guilford is also American-based, and we like to keep things 'in the family.' Michael will also work with American designers, which he likes.

"He also felt Guilford was very genuine about the partnership and growing the business," Mack added.

Examples of Aram's work were on display in Guilford's showroom during spring market in an effort to gauge buyers' reactions to the idea of a hardware line marketed by Guilford.

"Everyone really liked the style of Michael's designs, especially the hand-carved element to the line," said Steve Castella, vp, design for Guilford.

Castella added that the arrangement would be beneficial for Guilford and consumers alike, since a complete line of window coverings and hardware could all be purchased from the same manufacturer, thereby making Guilford "more of a one-stop home shop."

The 38-year-old Aram, who lives and works in New Delhi, India, began studying Indian metalworking in the late '80s. His Guilford line, which has been tentatively labeled 'The Michael Aram Collection by Guilford Home Fashions,' will include three of his original metal styles — cast iron, bronze and aluminum; and three new ones designed specifically for Guilford — antique copper, brushed aluminum and whitewash bronze. According to Mack, the three new styles were introduced in order to broaden Aram's appeal to a wider range of consumer. Aram, whose designs had typically been sought after by a higher-end market, also designs a complete line of bath hardware.

Keeping with Aram's past, the new line will carry three general themes — nature, minimalist and traditional — and be offered in rods, hardware, finials, tiebacks and drapery rings for three window sizes: 28" x 48", 48" x 86" and 66" x 120". Designs will include stars, leaves, moons and twigs as well as circles and flames. Department and specialty store placement is hoped for, and retail price points will range from $60 to $120 for a complete window, depending upon the size. All of Aram's products are manufactured in India.

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