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Substance beginning to matter

April 23, 2010

High Point, NC - I talked in my previous post about the 17th century as a likely next source of inspiration for future furniture and home furnishings lines. While this may take a season or two to manifest itself, a more immediate development and already noticeably advanced in the marketplace is a new awareness of and emphasis on hand craftsmanship in traditional designs.

The look found one of its best expressions in "Vintage Patina," an in-house designed collection at Bernhardt, championed by Alex Bernhardt Jr., the company’s young president. The intention was to create a collection that did not look manufactured but rather as if each piece might have been found in an antique shop or emerged from a local artisan. Every piece shows a relatively uneven surface, hand padded and rubbed to a subtle finish. The idea must have found resonance with buyers, who placed enough orders to add up to three cuttings before Market.

The same sensibility and direction were evident at Currey, the tireless producer of highly individualistic accessories and lighting. Brownlee Currey, son of the founder, Robert Currey, talked about the level of hand craftsmanship increasing in the U.S. He attributes the demand for quality and individuality to a generational shift - the young intent on customization rather than automation.

"Substance is beginning to matter," he said, "and the personal connection between creator and customer is growing closer."

More people apparently want to know who crafted a piece of furniture, and just as to eat locally has revolutionized the food industry, buying locally for your home may well be next.

Quality craftsmanship is also the hallmark of the new Calvin Klein collection, and the Keno Brothers are worth mentioning here once more. They can be considered the trailblazers for the flight to quality and craftsmanship as exemplified in the broad range of exotic woods, inlays, dovetailing, sculptural shaping and all manner of detail evident in their designs at Theodore Alexander that are as good as or better than one-of-a-kind. 

As the curtain comes down on this April market - I think the industry has much good news to look forward to.