Once a must-have accent—on pillows or upholstery edges—trims declined into virtual obscurity during the era of minimalism. That’s when the market appreciated simplicity over anything decorative, and dictated that less was more. Details like skirts and pleats or brush and bullion fringe went from must-have status to decorating faux pas. Nailhead trim, quilting and tufting were the few details that were able to survive. They have been used over and over on products at every price point and in virtually every style category. As Editorial Correspondent Kathleen Holterman reports, today, all that has changed.
Embellishments like tapes and bands, or fabric applied in ways to suggest them, have found new roles on upholstered furniture. Tapes, for example, have embraced a notice-me scale in widths of up to four inches that are on-trend and growing. Color meant to steal attention, rather than blend in, has been another characteristic of tape’s revival. Placement has also caused the market to take notice, sometimes running down the center of a chair or cushion. Symmetrical or asymmetrical, bands now define the architectural characteristics of a chair or cushion dividing it into sections like a vertical Mondrian painting. Or they float along the bottom of a chair—but with great notice—holding nothing back.
The Greek key, a perfect motif for styles ranging from classic and traditional to Asian and modern, was the standard bearer of ornamentation’s new role early on. Classical Elements says these motifs are no longer on-trend. Trimland agrees that they have moved from trend to basic status. That said, Greek keys are still among the most-requested designs at Trimland. Customers continue to ask for them, which is why this company has just debuted the new Gallant Collection, which includes Greek-key designs.
Nevertheless, at the Showtime textiles market, the range of alternatives expanded. In response to the trend toward blending global influences, woven banding emerged with neutral to bright color combinations. Other designs recalled lyrical calligraphic script, curving, undulating and weaving with complimentary colors on a neutral ground. On a more playful side, Classical Elements filled the whole band with animal prints in bright and playful colors.
Upstairs furniture marker CR Laine has been capitalizing on the trend status of decorative tapes on upholstery for about a year, showing off wide widths and interesting placement. This company says trims are, "of the moment," and is currently on-the-hunt for new ways to use them. The 20 new tapes introduced by Wesley Hall in 2014 allowed them to show a number of innovative trim applications, especially on accent chairs and cushions, at the April and October High Point furniture markets. They plan to add more at the next furniture market, too. Wesley Hall says one factor in this trend's growth is the customization it can provide.
Barclay Butera took advantage of tape-trim contrast on an skirted sofa for Highland House Furniture and Barrymore Furniture showed oversized welts with contrast. Century Furniture says decorative trims, including grosgrain ribbon and contrast welts, will play a larger role in their assortment, beginning in 2015.
Tape can act as a foundation below a row of nails, which have been established as the go-to embellishment for several seasons. In some situations, color ensures the tape a starring role, with nails making less of a statement. Company C showed this approach to full effect on an upholstered chair that also featured contrast piping. But that's just one expression of the trend. As Century Furniture points out, tonal looks can provide an interesting textural effect that also makes soft trims compelling.
As welts, tapes and trims continue to work their way into the spotlight, it may be impossible to ignore the challenge these soft embellishments may pose to nailhead trim in the seasons to come. At a minimum, trims will push designers to try more and different techniques with nails to keep them looking fresh. Here are a few other returning details that, when used in new ways, could help challenge the supremacy of nailhead time:
- Frogs: Posing as monograms or making an Asian statement, frogs can be of any scale. Seen on the fashion runway from Marc Jacobs, they are at home holding pleats in place or hitting pillows dead center.
- Pompoms: These orb-shaped embellishments have resurfaced as a playful-and-softening addition that can go all the way from a retro mood to sophisticated. Trim Queen says the newest way to use them is layering.
- Tassel fringe: Don’t expect fringe to limit itself to traditional roles. Classical Elements has metallics and patent leather on their watch list for new tassel concepts. Add to this the same kind of innovative scale and placement that made bands trend-right, and you'll see why fringe is forecasted to have a new lease on life by 2016.