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Design on the go

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, March 12, 2001

Whether its on the runways in Paris and Milan or at the super luxe fabric shows that provide the runways with the fabrics, there seems to be a fresh breath of design and color in the air.

And yes, it seems that this newness is slipping, ever so slowly, into home fashions.

One of the most interesting facets of that refreshing change is the renaissance of the influence of Scandinavian design and color treatment, an influence absent in home furnishings for a decade or better.

Actually, it's not completely fresh, but a combination of the new and a look back on mid-20th century contemporary design.

It's been a long time since that part of the world has been in the fashion focus for home furnishings. But now, the statements are loud and clear.

We're beginning to hear the familiar names once again. Alvar Aalto, Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen in furniture, Marimekko in fabrics, and a wide array of Scandinavian glassware. In fact, Marimekko's fabrics for home furnishings have begun a tremendous renaissance in this country and will be part of the apparel, accessories and home furnishings design/manufacturing company's 50th anniversary promotion this year. Very quickly, the Marimekko revival has inspired a whole new look in prints: big, bright, bold, dramatic design motifs.

And just last week, there was the debut in New York of a collection of contemporary Danish seating called "Danes on the Move" featuring the work of top young Danish furniture designers.

Some of the designs reflect definite inspiration from the designers in the post-World War II era of Scandinavian design; they differ from the past with materials that didn't exist then, new combinations of materials and a dedication to experimentation.

What makes the collection even more interesting than its pure design statement is that it begins a cross-country journey to 16 retailers beginning now with ABC Carpet & Home in New York.

Let's hope these new stirrings in design expand and inspire the rest of home furnishings. Wouldn't it be great to see an exhibition of real design-forward product, available to consumers, travel the country? People might even respond to something other than coupons and commodity pricing.

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