Those of us who track trends keep our eyes open to new colors, patterns and materials at trade shows. We also take notice of words that are repeated in our conversations there. When product concepts and words converge, the message is even more powerful. At the Gift Fair in New York, simplicity came through both design and strategy in a message that was loud and clear.
On the product front, a two-color trend was afoot. It included everything from Lawrence McRae’s grillwork-patterned lamp bases to Grace and Blake’s orange-silhouette appliqué dogs on solid-linen pillows. Subjects ranged from classic horses to mid-20th-century geometrics, and from Deco flowers to 18th-century toiles. There were zigzags, playing cards, triangles and lace patterns.
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The style of these designs varied. Some were complicated (like Thomas Paul’s pillows featuring horses in an engraved-look print), while others looked bold (Jamie Young’s white-on-gray geometric lampshade). What mattered most was not the level of detail, but the simplicity of the color combination.
According to Christen Maxwell, who showed a range of two- and three-color designs on throws, pillows, linen trays and more, “Simple color combinations are safer for more homes.” This approach connected with another phrase I heard at the show multiple times: “You don’t have to think.”
These words suggested the objective behind everything from the use of neutrals to offering bedding and pillows in straightforward, coordinated patterns. They stem from a belief that consumers today are so busy and so stressed out that they don’t want to spend time making decisions about their décor.
Gift and decorative accessory categories are not the only ones talking about making the buying decision easier. Kim Shaver, VP of Marketing Communications at Hooker Furniture says their Bradington Young division’s Comfort@Home program offers point-of-purchase and education to make buying leather upholstery an easier and more-educated one. Erika Woelfel, Director of Color for Behr paint acknowledges that keeping it simple is a new consumer reality. That’s why Behr has developed smart-phone apps, navigation devices and communication tools to help consumers reach color decisions faster. When consumers save time and are happy with their color decisions, everyone wins.
Now does feel like the right time to make things easy. With so much uncertainty about the future, and so much on most consumers’ plates, making décor feel more manageable is a perfect response.