Friday, January 23, 2009

Three Things I Love at Maison et Objet

Here are three things that I wish could come home with me from Paris.....

1. The Eiffel Tower- OK the Eiffel Tower and Paris are a given, so here are three things I can't live without from M&O

1. Leather Horizontal Blinds - The best interpretation I have ever seen. Available in snake, leather; leather and linen. Oh, the list goes on. Who wouldn't covet this supple saddle brown leather blind with embroidery! (Yes, you read this right it is silver metallic embroidery and beads on the face of that blind.)

2. Ideca medallion feather tiebacks The fabulous thing about this line is that all the tiebacks have magnetic backs that allow you to partially pull back the drapery - it doesn't need to go all the way back to the return edge.

3.Brony Alexander Hardware-This line of glass and acrylic decorative hardware including rings and rods is fabulous! Check out the black and fushia blown glass finial. I got to chat with the designer and owner just before we had to evacuate the hall. A wind storm came through Paris and the tents that hold booths had to be evacuated and didn't reopen today. We're hoping to get back in tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Love Surprises!

Today while touring the off site showrooms open for Cologne Design Week, Susan and I stopped into My Zoo Shop and struck up a conversation with the owner. That led us to a private tour of an apartment he had decorated; that led us to comment on the wallcoverings; that led him to tell us they were vintage from his friend in the shop next door. Long story short- we had to check out the wallpaper store as Susan is a vintage wallpaper aficionado. I am the one that was surprised when I came across this vintage JAB fabric. It's 100% linen and has a repeat of 32" and it’s coming home with me. Don't be surprised to see it in its most recent reincarnation at Vision 09.

Update: So this is the fabric that I left behind. Now it's haunting me and I will probably have to
give it a new home too. It is also a vintage JAB print on a linen and cotton ground.

Color Cues

5 Essential Color Tools for the Designer

You're a designer - you work with fabrics, hard window coverings, accessories, maybe flooring and wall paper and paint, and you're always up to your elbows in color. It plays a huge role in the design process. However, most of us are not trained on color theory or color use - we use our "instinct" and learn from our mistakes - hopefully. So what are five essential color tools that might make your job easier, more fun, more colorful? How can you come across as a color expert to your clients, giving them the confidence to rely on your color recommendations? Here are some of my thoughts.

One...educate yourself to the next level on color. How? JoAnne Lenart-Weary teaches a color class at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy. Her class Color with No Regrets is a two-day course that will give you the confidence and the knowledge you need. You can find out more about her at Tell her I sent you.
Another way is through We Make Color Easy ( which offers classes on color usage and certifies students. They use the Dewey Color System® which was developed by a friend of mine from Color Marketing Group. Tell them I sent you.

Two...Educate yourself - and keep yourself informed - on what's happening with color trends and directions. You don't need to be a member of Color Marketing Group (CMG) to do this, but if you can afford the time and the investment I would certainly recommend looking into it. Check out their website at It's also a great organization for networking, and if you join, you not only get the color forecasts, but you are part of creating them. What fun to let your clients know that you got to name a color! (Molly Brown was one of the names I suggested that was used...yes, it's a brown and came out of the Denver Conference a couple of years ago - Denver was the home of the famous Molly Brown so it seemed appropriate.)
Okay, so you can't join CMG - but there are other resources. I do articles for WF Vision magazine on color, and seminars on color trends and directions, as do many other people. Come to the International Window Covering EXPO next May in Atlanta and take color seminars. We also do a color webinar. Check in with websites of paint companies like Ben Moore or Sherwin Williams - most of them make available their color forecast. Some companies like Graber and Hunter-Douglas have some forecasts on their websites as well.

Three...Do you have a color wheel? Do you know how to use it? If not, get one and learn how it can help you. Amazon has several available and they're inexpensive. Google "color wheel" and you'll get more than you bargained for. Go ahead!

Four...Use your two eyes. Look at ads in the home fashions magazines, both consumer mags like Architectural Digest and trade magazines like WF Vision. Many companies do a great job in putting trend colors on their product. Sometimes they have membership in CMG, sometimes they're just on top of things. Kravet does an outstanding job in this regards. Cruise through Target, Pier One, the apparel departments of stores, and see what's there. Go through catalogs - Williams-Sonoma Home, Crate and Barrel, West Elm. Keep your eyes open for color combinations you see over and over again.

Five...The Internet. One of my favorite sites is Kate Smith's Check back here monthly as I blog in Color Cues once a month. Find other websites that are not only colorful but informative.
Do you have other tools that have helped you with color? If you do, post a comment and share them with our readers!

Bruce Knott, Senior Chairholder Color Marketing Group

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trend Trek

I am off later today to Europe for the first round of design trade shows for 2009. I'll be reporting on Heimtextil, imm Cologne and Maison et Objet. I can't wait. Of course, the carrot at the end of the stick is Paris- my favorite city!!
Here's a sneak peek of the Heimtextil trends. Check back here over the next 2 weeks when I'll be posting direct from the shows. Be one of the first to see what's ahead....

High technologies for featherweight padding, layering and folding create an illusion of mass and bulk. Play a game of hide and seek behind delicately woven drapes and move around freely in layer upon layer of breezy mille-feuilles and soft, structured folds for a natural human beauty. A sculptured volume.
Time Traveler
Only the finest treasures of the past are kept and covered in patina or shiny new coatings, embellished or embroidered, to set the stage for our reclaimed cultural heritage. Cherishing decorative art from deco to nouveau and embracing intricate detailing for the ultimate luxury

Fortune Teller
The all-seeing eye tells of fortune and fame found in chaos and eccentricity. In a world where all cultures collide and yesterday spills into tomorrow, the vagabond, bohemian and free spirit rule. Eco and ethnic folks break all the rules and create a rainbow of new ethics and traditions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crowd Clout

The online grouping of citizens/consumers for a specific cause, be it political, civic or commercial, aimed at everything from bringing down politicians to forcing suppliers to fork over discounts.”

It looks like the home furnishings industry could be among the next to get clouted. lets consumers collectively tell manufacturers which fpieces of furniture they want produced and then purchase them direct at near-factory prices.

Here’s how it works: Each week Paris-based Myfab posts a catalog of items that are available for voting, inviting members of the site to indicate the ones they like best. Those that win the most votes get put into production and become available for purchase through the site.
The Good Stuff: Myfab's prices can be as much as 70 percent lower since no middleman is involved. Consumers who voted for an item during its pre-production phase get an additional 10 percent off. Shoppers get a one week trial period to decide if they really like what they bought. In addition to furniture, Myfab also offers products in fashion, accessories, sports equipment and watches using the same crowd-based voting models. Could blind and shades be next?
Where: Myfab ships to France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland and the UK. Delivery takes 9 weeks on average, and consumers can follow an item's progress online each step of the way.
The Threat: Well, between design transparency and crowd clout companies are running out of places to hide; so if you're not listening to what your crowd is saying be prepared!
What's the opportunity?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ahead of The Curve- Wild Flora by Anna French

A year ago at Heimtextil, I was reintroduced to Anna French at the Thibaut booth. I fell head over heels in love again with her powerful use of color, bold scale and flair for the dramatic. Now I know that some of you might give me an argument about that- Tricia Guild for insistence- but I find myself drawn to most everything she does. Her new collection is no exception. Wild Flora is a gorgeous vintage floral collection that pushes the boundaries of document designs with printing techniques on foils and textured non-woven papers. Traditional designs are given a modern twist with mirrored flowers, white on white prints, and a tarnished metallic effect that resembles a Venetian palace mirror.

Velvet Jacquard, pictured here, is a striking design in purple on lime green, available in other colors including a soft pink /silver, black glitter, fushia and brown/rose gold.

Ok- fabri-olic that I am, I admit to having a sample of this hanging in my guest room. I am dying to use this in a window treatment. It is a soft, cut pile velvet weave from Italy with a vintage finish. It has longer pile flock that adds a glimmering fiber optic quality and sparkle to the room. The problem is I can't decide which color.

Songbirds- there are those bird motifs again- is stunning in Black/Silver.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Top Five Trendspotting Tips

Trend spotting is fun. It makes you feel like an insider and that you feel the pulse of industry. The way we see it- More than anything, trend watching leads to profitable innovation and inspiration. We know that there has been an avalanche of innovation, trends and insight in the past 5 years. Everyone is talking trends. Yet when we ask professionals if and how they spot trends and apply them to their business they tell us they are still having a hard time getting their arms around this trend thing.
So here are some tips to help you:
TIP #1 Know why you’re tracking trends
At Vision we like the definition of trend and using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to put them into context.

Trend is a manifestation of something that has unlocked or newly serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire or want.

Give it a try- apply the definition to your spottings and all those unconnected stories will all of a sudden start to make sense. But know this: trends are not predicting next year’s colors- Fashion and innovative businesses do not define a trend. Trend spotting is about observing and understanding what’s happening in the consumer arena both in the mainstream and on the fringes. Not all customers will embrace the trend- That’s why we’re so down with niches- You can’t be all things to all people.

One thing about trends - there is a common misconception that a trend applys to ALL of your cistomers. No. Remember, in life and in
trends: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Please remember that not everything applies to
everyone, and that virtually every trend has its anti-trend.

Tip #2 Acquire a point of view
It is essential to be open- minded. Act like a specialist, but aim to be a trend generalist. Look to understand the big picture and how you and your business fit in. Most importantly, look across industries. Your competition could be anyone; so you need to keep an eye on them. Your customer’s expectations often are set outside our industry. For example, H&M making trendsetting fashion affordable certainly affects the window covering industry. Not to mention how the hotel industry continues to redefine itself. Will our industry ever get it?

Tip #3 Take advantage of the incredible amount of resources out there to help.
Here a short list to jumpstart your trendspotting.
To open the trend faucet subscribe to blog search engines like Google Reader, Bloglines and sign up for Google Alerts and Technorati Mini.
Check out sites like, Design* Sponge, Business Week Design and Innovation, tr,, and Don’t forget to click our subscribe button for all our up-to- the- minute info.
Join a social media community. Did you know that WFCP has a Facebook group? Members are already sharing expertise, photos, support and exclusive opportunities.

Tip #4 Build a trend framework
Start your laundry list of trends by categorizing them on three levels: Macro- social, technological, environmental, economic and political; Consumer and Industry. Then put them into context. That brings us back to Maslow and looking at what unlocks that desire or need that puts the trend into context.

TIP# 5 OK, so I’m spotting trends. Now it’s time apply them to MY business
Ask yourself if the trend you’re tracking a trend has the potential to:
Influence and shape your company’s vision?
Starbucks founder Howard Schultz’s wrote this in a company memo pointing out threats and solutions based on his trend framework. Schultz acquired a point of view (Tip#2); tracked the EXPERIENCE trend (#3); and created a framework (#4) that led to applying it to his company’s vision. (#5)
“Over the past ten years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.”
Inspire you to come up with a new concept or brand?
Add a new product or service?

What about Sampling Salons for window coverings? More about this in an upcoming post.
Speak your client’s language?
If your client is already in the trend; then you better be showing her you are too through marketing, presentations, products and services.

Customers are lusting for information- why not give it to them. Look at other industries for inspiration in speaking the language. Everyone loves a story. Smart businesses are using stories and Origin as a marketing tool. Dole and Timberland have created story labels much like nutritional labels that tell who, what, when and where of the product. A website tells more about the fabrication process and origin of the products. Who will be the first to do this in our industry? Imagine story labels on your blinds and soft fashions that tell what the master artisan created it, where and how….
Now that’s what trends are all about!

One last tip- SHARE. Contribute to the collective wisdom of your peers . You will be tapping into the global brain so don't forget to give back."If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish."
(Paul Arden)
The perfect way to start is right here.
As you spot new innovation, products or trends, please post them here at the TrendSpot. Let's build a community of trendspotters!