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Reports on shows, trends, and more

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European Home Dec Trends

Fashion-forward décor and innovative design – but not without craft materials!

by Debba Haupert (October 23, 2006)

Known for their trend-forward designs, Europeans (especially the French and English) often create and grasp trends in advance of them appearing in our fashion, homes and, yes, even crafts. In the past, trends and innovations traveled overseas in a matter of years. Now, in this age of digital communication and global consumerism, "trend transference" is severely shortened – which makes staying abreast of trends more important and immediate than ever for retail and consumer competition.

Maison & Objet (www.maison-objet.com/en/index.htm) is a bi-annual international "home style exhibition" held in Paris. As Consumer Trend Manager for a home décor company, I had the privilege of attending this show in September, as well as trend shopping in Paris and London. (As my blisters will prove, it really was work!)

Having spent the past five years focused on marketing, product development, and design in the craft/hobby industry, I couldn’t help but notice, and be proud of, the handcrafted trends and accents of this futuristic show. Watch for these trends in home décor and consider them NOW as you design kits, projects, and products for tomorrow’s consumers!

Crochet. Knitting, we know, has been the entry point for many new, young crafters (as well as a perennial favorite). Well, move over knitting, crochet is here! Crochet appeared in home décor accents as well as jewelry and clothing. From colorful flower accents on pillows to wall hangings that appeared to be huge pieces of crochet frozen in time with hardening materials (almost like they were dunked in paint then hung as art). Crocheted cords and balls adorned necklaces and accessories (both home and wearables). Crocheted elements even wrapped candles, glass and vases. (Hmm. Perhaps home décor or wearable embellishment kits?)

Wire and Metal. Thinner wire than in years past, often in silver, created strong contemporary statements in hanging chandeliers and home accessories. On display were wire-wrapped vases and lampshades, and die-cut metal decorating home accessories. Tin was punched or hammered, and copper was everywhere! Mesh was layered in dimensional designs (like a 3-D tree on a flat mesh background) and used to create structures of home décor items. (Admittedly, I’ve always enjoyed working with metal and wire, so I noticed these quite a bit and got some great ideas!)

Wool. Wool balls (like the ones the Artgirlz have – which I love!) adorned fun and functional wearables and decorations. Stitched together for a pillow cover or hanging from a light fixture, these colorful elements are just fun! Felt, too, remains popular and a perfect material for layering, stitching, and building structures – in addition to felted items. Vases, wall hangings, candle holders, and pillows featuring felt and wool created versatile, colorful, and creative handcrafted home décor.

Die-cut. Wall hangings, room dividers, and light fixture decorations highlighted intricate shapes die-cut from felt, foil, and foam sheets. Leaves were a common motif as were geometric shapes. (With all the die-cutting systems available, I can see these designer elements easily made by crafty cutters!)

Fun Creative ‘Stuff’. "Scrunchies" on cords ... Light fixture cords with fabric covers ... Glitter remains hot with glitter-covered cups used for candleholders and seasonal decorations ... Micro beads held candles in place while providing a decorative accent ... Antique buttons decorated candles and pillows ... Hot glue-type designs decorated vases (in opaque white or black) with swirls and rose motifs ... Cool recycled art takes on a different flair with foreign language and vintage graphics ... Leather-covered vases in solid strips or with shapes cut out of them ... Dimensional flocking mimicked traditional to very contemporary designs on all types of surfaces ... Fringe wall décor and room dividers ... Swarovski-type crystals on pillows, towels and dishes.

Color Trends: Black and white dominated the show and trend shopping. When accented with color, it most often was watermelon red, strong pinks, reddish-purple, or lime green. (Lime green was everywhere in seasonal displays at AmericasMart Atlanta and the NY Gift and Stationery shows this year.) Red and white appeared together, reflecting a Scandinavian influence. Soft aqua mixed with creamy chocolate brown have already found its way into cool stores like Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Habitat, Conran and John Lewis. The Christmas Shop in Harrod’s was filled with modern and traditional holiday décor - more lime green and red; or black, white and red holiday scenes. (The English refer to the holidays only as Christmas.)

More Trends. Raw and heavy wood items; smooth and textured areas on the same item; garlic shapes (in vases and light shades) and fiber accents. Elegance/luxury continues to be an ongoing trend that isn’t going anywhere as we retreat to our homes and crave the celebrity lifestyle. Modernism is embraced with innovative products, minimalist decor, and surreal design, including clear or colored flat acrylic surfaces (from chairs to candelabras). And, to no one’s surprise, the vintage look continues to be strong from Paris shops to Knotting Hill vendors, but with an eclectic and ethnic twist. (I bought a knitted and beaded wire bracelet on Portobello Road that I love and plan to make!)

And, just a thought as you prepare for CHA: Maison & Objet hosts the most trend-forward of Europe’s home décor companies, so you’d expect some creativity, right? Try booths with their floor and walls completely covered in live grass or bamboo. Or sand-covered floors, display walls covered in wadded paper, twigs, and other natural items – even a BMW in a booth. (Does your booth reflect your creative company?)

Inspiring? YES! It was an incredible experience. The atmosphere was charged with creativity and sparked a new way of looking at home décor and trends. I came back with an appreciation for the opportunity as well as my background in the craft/hobby industry. Creative craft materials and designers are the backbone of innovative, inspiring design for décor, wearables, and accessories. But I didn’t have to go to Europe to know that!

(Note: Debba Haupert is Sr. Manager of Consumer Trends for a large domestic manufacturer and importer of home décor products. For the past five years, she has provided marketing, product development, and design services for the craft/hobby industry including taping more than 200 on-camera demonstrations, writing an award-winning craft book, and publishing numerous articles, creating products and kits, and tracking trends. She can be reached at debba@bobella.com. To read previous Scene & Heard reports, click on the headlines in the right-hand column.)

xxx

 

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