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Taking a Step Back

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, September 12, 2005

Well, it finally had to happen.

After a long run as the design leader and force of change across the home furnishings world, the decorative fabrics and home textiles world appears to be taking a leadership breather.

At last week's Maison & Objet in Paris, the consensus among American observers working the halls of Maison was that this go-round primarily was an affirmation of last January's event. There was news in these sectors, but more on that later.

Clearly the stars of this September's Maison were the furniture and lighting sectors, especially the much smaller lighting sector. Just as important in both areas was the outstanding presentation on the part of exhibitors. Presentation finesse is typically a strong part of European home furnishings shows. The exhibitors seem to understand that a good dose of pizzazz is as important as the design reach and quality of the product.

Overall, the color palette across all home furnishings sectors was similar — less brightly citrusy colors. Instead there were more saturated, yet softer interpretations of the former style leaders, especially the oranges, yellows and limes.

The new versions are intense and spicier — shades like burnt orange or amber, saffron, paprika — that bring a fresh look to all home products. Along with these are a bevy of purples from pales to darks, black and white in combination, lots of greens and a continuation of the brown and blue marriage.

In furniture, there were two major directions. In woods, the move is to lighter shades, away from the dark wenge woods that have been prevalent for a number of years, and have influenced the color palette towards the brighter shades as a complementary factor.

Driftwood and petrified woods were a major feature in the ethnic hall — much of which was translated into furniture and accessory items.

As for the lighting, metals and glass were clearly the stellar materials. Metals were shiny or matte, flat expanses with mirror-like effects or twisted wire, or often mixed with glass or crystal embellishments — even in ultra-contemporary designs.

Overall, there was a distinct move to eclecticism across all home sectors. The minimalist looks of the '50s and '60s have all but evaporated in favor of a lighter, fresher look for the home.

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