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  • Cecile Corral

Contemporary abounds in Atlanta

The theme for the International Area Rug market, held here last week, seemed to be "Out with the old, in with the new," or what designers refer to as contemporary and modern.

Geometric and avant-garde looks in striking palettes — from jet black to street-cone orange — abounded, even in the unlikeliest of showrooms.

At Karastan, for example, where, "We're really known for our traditional looks," said Bill Storey, senior vice president and general manager, "we couldn't ignore" the emerging contemporary trend. Hence, the Sugar Valley, Ga.-based company debuted its modernist East Side collection. Comprising three designs — Prince Street, Spring Street and Wooster Street — East Side rugs don architecturally inspired looks in clean lines and feature the same ginger, birch and quarry blue colorways as the collection's transitional predecessor, Townhouse.

"We're finding many people like to decorate with both transitional and contemporary styles, but using the same colors," explained Anne Carley, director of products and marketing.

Orian Rugs, based in Anderson, S.C. — also known as a traditional rug manufacturer — anted up its line with the launch of the Vogue collection of contemporary geometrics. The heat-set polypropylene collection is made in a double-point construction.

A rainbow of bright colors in stripes and geometric designs describes Couristan's new Monsani collection as an example of the new design direction the company is taking, said Larry Mahurter, director of advertising and sales promotion. "We're going to come out now with more contemporaries," he said. "We're branching out now from traditionals, which is our core."

Monsani, made in Belgium of 100 percent heat-set polypropylene, features striped and geometric designs in a palette of 22 bright colors. It is made using a multi-point weaving technique to create a shading effect.

Mohawk Home, based in Sugar Valley, Ga., added 40 new designs to its Mohawk Select line of 100 percent olefin rugs.

Pinehurst, N.C.-based Gulistan made its debut in Atlanta with two machine-made collections from Turkey — one of which includes contemporary designs like Mohave Sun, which features cubes, spheres, stripes and shading effects.

Jeff Meadows, division vice president of Dalton, Ga.-based Shaw Living, noted that the contemporary rug market is less than 15 percent of the rug business, "but still an area we want to address." It does so with the addition of six new designs and colorations to its modern and contemporary Impressions collection, comprising 100 percent olefin Wilton woven rugs. The designs feature organic and geometric designs with carving detailing.

Retailers were glad to have plenty to pick from.

Said Deborah Flannery, a senior buyer with Tampa-based The Thompson Group (parent to Thompson & Co., Casual Living and linensource), "We're shopping for more contemporary patterns as well as more shapes and rounds."

Brian Doherty, area rug buyer for May Co.'s Hecht's stores, said he came "looking for a couple of things at this market — we're trying to grow our casuals and contemporary offerings. In casuals, we do a big business in furniture. So we're looking for area rugs in solids and other casual looks to match. We're also trying to raise our average retail, like everyone else out there."

Ann Nusbaum, the newly appointed corporate area rug buyer for CCA Global Partners, parent company of Carpet One, came in search of the same. "We're here to see all the new technologies and new colors," she said.

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