– and even from the dumpster.

My annual trip to the International Furniture Market in High Point, N.C., made me realize that we seem to have a need for change. But change isn’t always good. As product designers push the limits of creativity, sometimes the results are breathtaking, inspiring and beautiful. Other times, the results are shocking and hideous (recycled paint cans as artwork?). Here’s a recap of the looks I saw at High Point:


Each year, certain design motifs seem to surface. Remember roosters? Or wine bottles? This year, it’s skulls, horns, feathers and insects.

Jamie Dietrich Designs introduced luxe skull art, using natural geodes, sea glass and acrylic. Many of the antlers and horns were made of resins, some with laser-cut designs and mounted on stands for tabletop interest.

Feathers were found everywhere — on feather chandeliers, in feather art, feathers on lampshades and feathers made of chrome ... the list goes on.

Sputnik-influenced items, inspired by the 1950s-era Soviet satellite, were another strong motif. Sputnik shapes also appeared everywhere — on chandeliers, bookends, tabletop objects and wall art, often in chrome with glass or crystal accents.


retro looks

If you grew up in the 1960s, you probably remember the Danish modern furniture your parents may have had. It’s back, but slightly more refined. The fabrics look less like the automobile upholstery of the ’60s and more like fine linen or silk, often in neutrals or bold graphic patterns or bright solids. And instead of teak, the ’60s standard, today’s pieces often combine exotic wood veneers with chrome or brass. Used as an accent piece or for an entire dining room, the streamlined retro look made a strong comeback —along with 1970s lighting.

Also making a comeback were gold-tone metal finishes. Silver finishes are still going strong, but brass and gold are on the rise, so don’t throw out that old brass item quite yet. Lucite, another classic from the ’60s and ’70s, also is back in the mix.



Made in America seemed to be a popular theme at High Point, with many buyers and consumers demanding more domestic products and concentrating on bringing work back into our economy. (It’s amusing that Chinese buyers are wanting “American” furniture, with much of it made in China!)


Rugs, rugs and more rugs

Driven by the wood flooring trend, there was an explosion of rug vendors. From low to high price points, indoor to outdoor, neutral to colorful, rugs were an important part of market offerings. Trends included patterns that looked worn and distressed, along with bold graphics, geometrics and ikat patterns.

Also something new: handpainted hardwood floor tiles. Mirth Studio introduced several patterns that are customizable, easy to install and made in the U.S.A.


Upholstered case pieces with nailhead trim continue to be a popular look for bookcases and other storage furniture. Customizable in any fabric, these pieces can be used to coordinate with your upholstery.

Fringe, a popular fashion trend, appeared on chairs, as did “hair-on hides” (leather from which the fur has not been removed).

Sheepskin, with long woolly hairs still attached, was found on many upholstered items.


Industrial looks

Steel, chains, gears, wires and wheels — materials normally found in factories, were popular with some manufacturers. Often combined with a modern loft style, it was a noticeable trend that seems to be peaking.


This year’s color story

Gray continues to be the No. 1 neutral, often combined with white or cream, and sometimes with a single accent color such as orange or teal. Pale pink and mid-range to pale purples were also seen, along with yellow greens. Blue-greens run the gamut from pale, barely-there sea-inspired hues to deep teal and peacock.

Clear, bright colors also were found, but more often used as an accent for pillows or art. Bold graphic patterns continue to be popular.



Fresh shapes

Adjustable-height desks and tables are on the rise. One petite console, “ Ciao” from BDi, is perfect for a hall or entry and has a drawer and slotted space for phone-charger cords.

Creative ottomans came in all shapes, sizes and textures, such as a star-shaped ottoman from Century.


New concepts

New room dividers offer creative ways to make the most of limited space. Woodland Furniture can customize its room dividers/partitions to fit any room and in any finish. The partitions feature a TV swivel, so that the TV can be viewed from either direction.


Worth noting

Trump Home has teamed up with Turkish design firm Dorya to create a new collection, launched in Istanbul earlier this year and introduced at High Point. The pieces, inspired by the locations and architecture of Trump luxury properties worldwide, are contemporary, with a nod to Art Deco and a bit of glitz. To me, most pieces have a “Miami Vice” vibe that doesn’t fit our Midwestern design aesthetic. But judge for yourself. To see the collection, go to dorya.us/collections/trump-home.com.


No thanks

Also noted:  Wall panels of “artwork” made from recycled paint cans, from the Phillips Collection. Art??? Really?




Sorting it out

The challenge for interior designers, as well as for homeowners, is how to use these new products and trends. How long will they last? What will become dated too quickly? And are they in good taste? As I tell my clients, just because something is in a magazine or is marketed heavily doesn’t mean that it’s good. You can be the judge. Listen to that inner voice, and buy what you love.


Robin Strangis is a certified interior designer and owner of Loring Interiors (loringinteriors.com) in Minneapolis.