Monday, December 27, 2010

Gray is not the only way

For the KC Star:

Every few years, there is a trend that saturates the design industry, and this year we were hit hard with one.

As I gear up for the furniture market held twice a year in High Point, North Carolina, I prepare myself for scouting new ideas. I schedule meetings with my most important vendors in advance. I prioritize what items I will be looking for based on customer demand. But mainly I am looking to spot The Next Best Thing, that trend that won’t hit the chain stores for a few years.

Right now everywhere you look is gray. The corporate retailers are doing it and although it has been a trend with designers for a few years already, it was still very prevalent at market in October. Most vendors I spoke to seem to think this trend will be around for another few years.

During my tour of the Global Views showroom, my rep informed me of their conscious decision to use gray with accents of citron in their front-room display. Just downstairs from them in the International Home Furnishings Center (referred to as IHFC), a 12-story building with 3.5 million square feet of display room, you could see traces of gray everywhere. A new line, Mr. Brown, a subsidiary of the designer line Julian Chichester, also was using gray with accents of green, citron and pink.

A trip to the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom proved they had been influenced by shades of gray as well. MG+BW has its own 24,000-square-foot building that houses almost the entire collection during market. The showroom is known for a few things: an almost obsessively well-kept and presented showroom, impeccable service, men in black and the color white everywhere else. Mitchell and Bob (yes, they are real people) believe in letting their furniture stand out and creating the mood for the settings. The two-level showroom will typically have 13 to 15 vignettes on each floor of furniture set up in living room or bedroom environments showcasing new products and fabrics as well as current inventory. The first half of my appointment was going along business as usual. Then we took the stairs to the second floor and I was transported into moody, dark chocolate and gray surroundings. They had even painted the floors gray! After so many years of white floors, this trend was big enough for them to take note.

So while I appreciate the current trend, the thought started to cross my mind that it was being a bit overdone. I was on the hunt for something new and different. Gray was starting to downright depress me! After seeing this look everywhere I turned, I was now ready for something to stand out in the sea of gray.

Thankfully, my luck changed during my visit to the Oly Studio showroom. A hunch I had been having was confirmed: gold is the new gray. A new plush gold mohair had been introduced along with a stunning hand-carved hardwood chest encased in natural brass, illuminating a beautiful gold sheen. Gold is vibrant, brilliant and in my opinion, goes with everything. There were even “Solid Gold” dancers at the Oly after-hours showroom party.

If the big-box stores are doing it, you can almost guarantee I will do the opposite. Rather than coming home to KC riding the “gray train,” instead I felt inspired by the idea to infuse rich and vibrant pops of color that breathe life into a space. Not to worry though, I still have a penchant for gray and envision gold and gray among other colors living harmoniously together.

Reach Jaclyn Banash, interior designer and owner of Urban Dwellings Design in the River Market, 412 Delaware St., at

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