Manufacturing

furniture

Top Reasons for Ashley Furniture’s Amazing Success

AshleyFurnitureAlthough there are a number of major players in the US furniture market, Ashley Furniture stands out from the rest. The American furniture manufacturer and retailer has a history dating back to 1945, but the company’s rise to the top of the industry began in 1970 when current chairman Ron Wanek launched a small furniture manufacturing operation in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Since then, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., has grown to become an international company operating in more than 120 countries around the world.

In addition to its role as the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, the company is also the largest furniture retailer in North America. The first Ashley HomeStore opened its doors in 1997, and two decades later, Ashley celebrated the opening of its 700th store location. Today, Ashley HomeStores bring in $3.8 billion in annual sales, nearly twice as much as its closest competitor.

The success of Ashley Furniture and its growth from a relatively unknown brand into a household name are not simply the result of good fortune. Ashley’s commitment to being the best furniture company in the world drives its success and continues to shape its daily operations.

Here’s a look at what makes Ashley Furniture a dominant industry leader:

 

Quality Products

From day one, Ashley Furniture Industries has focused on providing customers with top-quality home furnishings. The company’s manufacturing process begins with skilled engineers and designers who travel worldwide to find the latest trends, materials, and technologies. Then, every material and design is tested in Ashley’s state-of-the-art physical testing labs to ensure that it meets the company’s quality standards.

Ashley Furniture’s manufacturing practices and technologies ensure that each product produced is in line with the company’s goal to offer customers exceptional out-of-the-box quality at an affordable price. Ashley also partners with best-in-class suppliers and strives to hire disciplined and committed employees to keep quality at the heart of everything it does.

The company’s focus on operational and manufacturing excellence also supports its efforts to provide stylish, durable furnishings for the entire home. Today, Ashley customers can choose from items across 19 product categories, including bedroom, outdoor, home office, and entertainment.

kitchen

 

Commitment to Efficiency

As part of its mission to improve quality, reduce costs, and increase business, Ashley Furniture works toward continuous improvement by employing innovative production equipment and lean manufacturing principles at its US facilities in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi. The company’s patented assembly methods and streamlined systems support the Ashley team of manufacturing workers as they produce over 50,000 units each day.

Ashley’s commitment to efficiency extends from the factory floor to every area of the supply chain. In 1972, Ron Wanek established Ashley Logistics to manage the transportation and delivery of the company’s products. The Ashley fleet now comprises over 800 vehicles and 3,500 trailers that enable the company to move and deliver more than 30 million pieces of furniture each year. The fleet utilizes an advanced dispatch and routing system that ensures on-time delivery to customers in nearly every part of North America. Ashley is capable of delivering products to US customers in two days or less, a service that no other furniture company in the country can match.

In addition to speeding up production and delivery, Ashley’s efficient manufacturing processes and delivery systems translate into savings for customers. Providing customers with quality products on time and at an exceptional value is in line with the company’s growth-focused efforts to not only stay in business, but also increase profitability over the long term.

bedroom

 

Focus on People and Community

With the understanding that any company is only as good as its employees, Ashley Furniture invests in its people through job skills training and management coaching, as well as direct communication and support. Once a person accepts a position with Ashley, he or she receives job-specific training in manufacturing, distribution, and logistics. All employees have the opportunity for continued professional development as they work toward higher levels of leadership within the company.

Those who attain leadership positions at Ashley continue to develop their professional competencies through the Wanek School of Business Leadership. Ashley leaders take part in online learning and classroom education programs while taking on challenging job assignments that sharpen their skills. Throughout the process, they also receive feedback, personal coaching, and mentoring from other experienced Ashley leaders. All these activities support ongoing employee improvement.

Along with investing in its employees, Ashley Furniture gives back to the communities it serves. The company supports local economies and contributes millions of dollars each year to national charities and nonprofit groups, including City of Hope, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the American Heart Association. Ashley also supports local education programs serving students from grade school through college. Ashley’s work in the community is part of its efforts to make a positive impact while advancing its business goals as North America’s furniture leader.

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summer

A Complete Guide to the Latest Trends in Outdoor Living

As the weather becomes warmer and the days get longer, people across the country have begun to retreat to the outdoors for fresh air and relaxation. For many, porches and patios have become the preferred living areas for eating, lounging, and spending time with the family. Those looking to get the most out of their outdoor living spaces are incorporating outdoor furniture and accessories that combine style and functionality while emphasizing comfort. Read on for an overview of the latest trends in outdoor living.

Bringing the Indoors Outside

Long gone are the days of white plastic chairs and green cast iron. Many people now view their patio or deck as an extension of their indoor living rooms, and they are buying outdoor furniture to create a polished look that has been traditionally reserved for interior spaces.

With so many people looking to bring the indoors outside, furniture manufacturers are offering a variety of fabrics, furniture, and accessories that can withstand everything from brisk spring rainstorms to sweltering summer heat waves. These weather-friendly options make it easy for anyone to decorate outdoor spaces according to their taste.

furniture

 

Fire Features

Cozying up around the fire is relaxing regardless of the season, which is why more people are beginning to design their outdoor living areas with fire features in mind. Propane-fueled fire pits and fire tables are now available in a range of styles that can adapt to a variety of spaces. Many homeowners are also choosing to install propane or wood-burning fireplaces to create a cozy ambiance and extend the amount of time they can spend outdoors.

 

A Focus on Comfort

Due to modern innovations in furniture materials, many patio sofas and chairs today are just as comfortable as indoor pieces. An effort to make the outdoors even more relaxing is driving the trend of using oversized cushions and a variety of fluffy pillows that can be mixed and matched to fit with any design scheme. Hammocks, outdoor daybeds, swings, and hanging chairs are also popular options for people who want to nap, read, and relax in comfort while enjoying the outdoors

 

Darker Hues and Fun Patterns

While bright colors are always popular in outdoor living spaces, a preference for outdoor furniture featuring dark colors and deep hues is on the rise. Along with deep purple and blue hues, black, brown, and shades of grey are among the dominant fabric colors for outdoor sofas and chairs. Green is also making a comeback as a popular color in outdoor design. To add some vibrancy to the dark palette, many people are using patterned throw pillows and accessories throughout their patios and decks.

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Use Accessories to Complete the Look

Completing the look of your outdoor living space requires more than just a few pieces of furniture covered in fluffy cushions and pillows. Today’s trend toward blurring the lines between outdoor and indoor spaces is all about the details. In addition to coffee tables, stools, and ottomans, popular finishing design touches include candles, rugs, and centerpiece bowls.

Lanterns, candles, and outdoor string lighting are also among the functional accessories that people are incorporating into their outdoor design schemes. Manufacturers even offer waterproof chandeliers and table lamps for those seeking to bring interior design elements outside.

 

Embracing Coastal Vibes

Another trend in outdoor living emphasizes a vacation vibe. Those looking to capture the feel of their favorite resort are combining shell-shaped accessories and sea-themed prints with furniture featuring sand tones and cool coastal colors.

Bold cabana-style stripes also feature prominently in many outdoor furniture collections. Teak sling chairs, woven stripe patterns, and bright umbrellas are all available to complete the look for anyone who wants to relive their last beach vacation every time they relax on their patio, porch, or lanai.

patio

 

Mixed Materials and Retro Looks

Rattan and wicker-inspired furniture that was popular decades ago is making a comeback, but today’s consumer prefers vintage-style pieces with a contemporary flair. While more difficult to manufacture, pieces that combine contrasting materials such as metal and wood offer the design detailing that many people are looking for in outdoor furniture. Woven pieces featuring non-traditional colors and design features are also on-trend among those who want to combine a vintage look with pieces that are more modern.

 

Multifunctional Pieces for Greater Flexibility

When warm weather arrives, many people use their outdoor spaces for dining, socializing, and entertaining. An area that serves this purpose requires multifunctional pieces that do not compromise style or comfort.

To meet the demand for greater flexibility in outdoor living, furniture manufacturers are adding wheels to furniture and accessories and creating large patio sets that can be easily rearranged to fit a variety of situations. Adjustable outdoor sectionals alongside tables and stools with built-in storage are the perfect options for those who need to be ready to change the configuration of their outdoor space at a moment’s notice.

furniture

This Is What Is Happening Right Now in Furniture Manufacturing

Over the last several years, the furniture and home furnishings industry in the United States has enjoyed steady growth, thanks to an improving economy that has given consumers more disposable income. Growth in the industry began in 2009, and the latest figures show that it is likely to continue for at least the near future. Retail experts project that US furniture sales will experience a 3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $122 billion by 2020. Globally, the furniture and flooring market is forecast to reach $695 billion by 2019.

Of course, the projected growth in the industry has furniture retailers, distributors, and manufacturers optimistic, but industry professionals are also facing new challenges that are changing how they approach furniture design and marketing. It’s important for furniture manufacturers in particular to stay on top of the latest industry trends so that they can create products that will satisfy retailers and, ultimately, consumers.

To satisfy consumers, manufacturers must be aware of their demographics, lifestyle choices, and buying preferences. These factors help shape the industry by influencing how furniture is made and sold. Read on for an overview of what’s happening in the furniture industry and how it affects the work of manufacturers.

 

Millennials Are Driving the Market

While the furniture market also comprises generation Xers, baby boomers, and seniors, the majority of today’s furniture shoppers are millennials. As one of the largest groups of homebuyers in the United States, the generation spends billions on furniture and bedding each year. In addition to changing the way that retailers market their furniture, millennials are affecting how and what type of furniture is manufactured.

The generation prefers modern pieces with unique designs and tech-friendly features to the more traditional furniture that their parents likely own. Also unlike their parents, many millennials value affordability over durability and aren’t overly concerned with how long a specific piece will last. The generation prefers decorative, disposable furniture that they can use for 10 years or less before replacing it with something else. Manufacturers are meeting this demand by using materials and design processes that enable them to balance quality with affordability.

 

furniture

 

Quicker Delivery Is in High Demand

Along with affecting how much they’re willing to pay for a new piece, millennials’ and other modern consumers’ attitudes toward furniture affects how long they are willing to wait for furniture they’ve purchased. This demand for quick delivery is leading many furniture manufacturers to streamline their operations.

According to the results of a 2018 industry survey, American upholstered furniture manufacturers consider reducing delivery times to be one of their most pressing challenges. To do this, more manufacturers are using technologies such as computer numerically controlled cutting (CNC) machines during the manufacturing process. Implementing better employee-training practices is also part of many manufacturers’ plans to speed up the time it takes them to deliver their products to market.

 

More Consumers Are Renting

Home sales may be increasing nationwide, but a large percentage of Americans are still renters. In fact, a recent report from the Pew Research Center showed that over 36 percent of households rented in 2016.

Although there are various reasons as to why a person may choose to rent over owning a home, money is a common factor. With less money to spend, many renters are similar to other modern consumers in valuing affordable furniture. Some renters are also tight on space, leading them to seek smaller and/or multipurpose pieces for their homes. Smart manufacturers today are creating inexpensive, streamlined furniture that appeals to the country’s large population of budget- and space-conscious renters.

 

Online Retail Continues to Grow

The growth of online retail continues to provide new opportunities for both furniture sellers and furniture manufacturers. Companies on the manufacturing side of the industry now have the ability to sell to retailers that aren’t limited to a specific geographic area. Some manufacturers are also increasing their efforts to create innovative furniture pieces that ship easily. This includes ready-to-assemble furniture, which is experiencing a revival in popularity in the United States. Despite the increase in furniture e-commerce, however, most furniture buyers still prefer to shop in-store.

 

ecommerce

 

Retailers Are Catering to Environmentally Conscious Shoppers

A growing demand for sustainable products is leading many furniture retailers to carry eco-friendly pieces in their showrooms. Like many other market trends, millennials are driving the interest in green furniture, but people of all ages are looking for ways to decrease their carbon footprint.

Furniture manufacturers may have different definitions of what constitutes sustainable furniture, but for most, it includes pieces that use recycled and/or responsibly sourced materials, such as certified wood and natural fabrics. Sustainable furniture is also created using efficient manufacturing practices that reduce the company’s water and energy usage. Many of today’s furniture manufacturers focus on the green furniture market as part of a business strategy to increase profits while protecting the planet.

 

wood desk

Here Are the Top Things to Know about Furniture Woods

When looking for a new piece of furniture, most people will purchase an item that contains at least some wood. In addition to being the most popular material for tables, desks, and bookshelves, wood is the foundation of nearly every other type of furniture, including sofas, loveseats, and recliners. Even if it’s not visible on the exterior of a piece, wood is most likely providing interior support alongside other structural materials.

Wood has always played an important role in the home furnishings industry, but the variety of wood choices available today can seem overwhelming. To help you make an informed decision the next time you go furniture shopping, check out this quick guide to furniture woods.

 

Why Choose Wood Furniture?

One of the main reasons that wood is such a great furniture material is because it is naturally strong. A piece made of either hardwood or softwood can last a very long time with little maintenance or upkeep aside from occasional waxing, polishing, and oiling. The durability of wooden furniture makes it a smart investment for those looking to furnish their home with quality products. Wood is also available in a variety of types, styles, and finishes that can easily fit in with any design scheme.

Additionally, wood is a renewable furniture material that can be produced with very little impact on the environment. Many wooden pieces also contain recycled materials, which makes them the perfect option to consider if you are interested in sustainable furniture.

 

wood chair

 

Getting to Know Hardwoods and Softwoods

All solid wood products can be divided into one of two categories: hardwood or softwood. The tree from which the wood originates determines its classification. Hardwoods come from leaf-bearing (deciduous) trees, and softwoods are sourced from cone-bearing (coniferous) trees. While it is common to assume that the terms hardwood and softwood refer to a wood’s strength and density, this is not necessarily the case. Some hardwoods, like balsa, are actually soft and lightweight, and some softwoods, like pitch pine, are actually very heavy and dense. In most cases, however, hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods due to their cellular structure.

 

Furniture Hardwoods

Because they are very strong and durable, hardwoods are often used in high-quality furniture pieces. Hardwoods also come in a variety of colors and natural patterns that are very visually appealing and unique to the tree from which they came. The major downside to purchasing hardwood furniture is its price, but the higher cost is well worth it for many people. Here are some of the hardwoods most commonly used in furniture:

Oak—With roughly 60 species in the United States, oak is an abundant hardwood that is valued for its strength and prominent grain patterns. The two varieties (red oak and white oak) range in color from yellow to light pinkish-brown. Oak is used in all types of furniture, but it is very common in pieces made in the Mission style.

Maple—One of the hardest hardwoods, maple resists warping and shrinking and holds up to heavy use. The light-colored wood is usually beige or tan with a straight, even grain pattern that sometimes gives way to curls or waves. Maple is an excellent wood for dressers, cabinets, butcher blocks, and other heavy-use items.

Walnut—Walnut is a dark hardwood that features a straight grain pattern that is most striking when clear-coated or oiled. The wood also carves easily, making it an excellent choice for decorative furniture like cabinets, headboards, mantels, and antique-style tables.

 

wood chair

 

Furniture Softwoods

Although softwoods aren’t typically as dense as hardwoods, they can be just as long-lasting. In fact, softwood furniture can even last longer than hardwoods in some environments. The most common softwoods used in furniture include the following:

Pine—Lightweight and affordable, pine is a common material in modern furniture. There are many different species of pine, but most share the same pale-yellow or light-brown color. Pine is also easily recognizable due to the dark knots and physical growth rings that stand out on its surface. The wood is perfect for rustic furniture, but it can be painted to fit in with all types of décor.

Cedar—Although it is light and brittle, cedar is a durable wood that is often used to make drawers, chests, and closets because it has a distinctive scent that repels moths and other insects. This light-red softwood is also resistant to moisture and decay, so it works well for picnic tables and other outdoor furniture.

Redwood—Like cedar, redwood has weather-resistant properties that make it perfect for use in the outdoors. It is especially well suited for patio tables and chairs, but redwood can also be used indoors for Western-style beds and other rustic pieces.

 

Other Wooden Furniture Products

In addition to solid wood, many modern furniture pieces use composite wood materials such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). While these products are manmade, they are still composed of actual wood that is bonded together and pressure treated. Plywood, MDF, and other engineered wood products are both affordable and eco-friendly. Most often, they are used on the backs and interiors of furniture, but some bookshelves and other budget-friendly pieces are made entirely out of these materials.

child

A Focus on the Latest New Style Trends for Kids’ Rooms

When it comes to rooms for kids, creating a fun space that is also functional and stylish is often the goal. A space that can stand up to heavy use but incorporates design elements that promote creativity and imagination provide the perfect spot for the youngest members of the family to play, learn, and rest.

The latest style trends in kids’ rooms embrace function and frivolity in a way that is pleasing to both kids and adults. Recent trends also focus on comfort and sustainability while incorporating a design flexibility that makes it easy to adapt to a child’s changing needs and preferences. The following highlights some of the latest trends driving child-friendly furnishings and décor.

 

Neutral Shades and Colorful Accents

Often, few areas in the home are as colorful as a kid’s bedroom or playroom. While vivid colors are still in vogue, neutrals like white, beige, and gray have become very popular in children’s furniture and décor. Brightly colored dressers, tables, and bedding are being replaced by pieces in subtle green, pink, and blue hues.

The muted palette gives parents the opportunity to add striking pops of bright color using accent walls and decorative items. Combining neutrals with sophisticated vivid hues such as golden yellow provide an easy way to create fun-looking spaces that complement other rooms in the home.

 

playroom

 

Metallic Finishes

The use of gold, silver, copper, and other metal colors in interior design is a recent trend that continues to gain traction. Now, metallic design elements on lighting fixtures, walls, and furniture are finding their way into kids’ rooms.

Dressers and tables featuring metal accents are a particularly popular trend for 2018. Parents are also using metal headboards and full-metal beds to act as eye-catching centerpieces in their children’s bedrooms. Although metallic elements can complement all types of décor, the modern look of metal can be particularly helpful in creating a more mature look in rooms for older children and teens.

 

The Natural Beauty of Wood

While metal furniture and metallic finishes are gaining popularity, wood-based furnishings remain the top choice for kids’ rooms. One reason for this is that both solid and manufactured wood pieces are very durable and capable of holding up to bumps, scrapes, and rough handling. When the daily wear and tear begins to take its toll, parents can repair the pieces, often without much effort. Wooden furniture can also be repainted to fit a specific design scheme, making it particularly popular among do-it-yourselfers.

In addition to stained and painted wood pieces, unfinished natural furniture is also trending in kids’ rooms. More parents are starting to appreciate natural wood for its rustic appeal and purported health benefits.

 

child bedroom

 

Reusable Pieces

This year, many parents are passing over age-specific furniture for pieces that can grow with the child or fit into other areas of the home. The trend toward reusable furniture is particularly popular in nurseries. Instead of buying limited-use items such as changing tables, small bookshelves, and baby-themed décor, parents are investing in dressers, full-size furniture pieces, and neutral accessories that won’t be out of place in an older child’s room.

 

Sustainability

The rising popularity of natural and reusable kids’ furniture is part of a larger consumer trend driven by a concern for the environment. Many people today are looking to lessen their environmental impact by purchasing eco-friendly products, including sustainable furniture.

In addition to improving the health of the planet, sustainable furniture typically lacks the chemicals that some studies have linked to health issues in humans. Modern parents’ commitment to the environment and health of their families is also helping create a greater demand for natural textiles such as jute, cotton, and wool.

 

Staying Organized

As families with children already know, kids can be very messy. Finding a place for the various toys, clothes, and books in kids’ rooms is certainly not a new challenge. A recent trend to simplify one’s living space by getting rid of excess stuff is leading many parents to tackle the mess problem before it happens.

Parents are decluttering kids’ rooms so that they only contain essential items along with a few well-loved toys and accessories. Open storage spaces such as wall shelving and baskets are also trending in 2018. These solutions help kids’ rooms stay organized by making it easy for children to clean up.

 

toys

 

Getting Creative

Parents may be downsizing the number of items in their kids’ rooms, but they are not doing it by sacrificing creativity. Incorporating fantasy themes, creative ceiling designs, and playful furniture is all part of a trend to create fun bedrooms that promote imaginative play. Building hideaway spots and permanent forts is also part of the trend. Additionally, many parents are turning their kids’ beds into oversized toys by adding canopies, ladders, poles, and other playful design elements.

bedroom

Introducing What to See and Do at the 2018 Spring High Point Market

High Point MarketTwice a year, the nation’s home furnishings industry leaders visit High Point, North Carolina, to learn about the latest products and trends in home furniture and décor during the highly anticipated High Point Market. The biannual trade show features five days of education and networking activities for furniture retailers and manufacturers, designers, architects, and other professionals focused on home interiors.

Each High Point Market brings together more than 75,000 attendees for exhibits and presentations across 11.5 million square feet of show space. At the 2018 Spring Market, taking place April 14-18, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about thousands of new home furnishings products. Keep reading for a preview of what else guests will experience during the event.

 

A Focus on the Latest Trends

With tens of thousands of people on hand to learn about what’s next in the furnishings and interior design industry, High Point Market organizers put new and emerging trends at the center of the event’s programming. The 2018 Spring Market will highlight trends in luxury interiors, customizable and one-of-a-kind furniture, and eclectic design. Market programs will also focus on antique and reproduction décor along with eco-friendly and toxin-free home furnishings.

To help track the latest trends and hottest new looks on display, the High Point Market Style Spotters will be exploring showrooms throughout the event and sharing their top style and product picks online. Each year, eight fashion-forward designers make up the Style Spotters team; they host a panel discussion highlighting what attendees should look for at the Market. Following the discussion, which is dubbed Style Spotters Live, the designers will lead attendees on a tour of their favorite showrooms. At the 2018 Spring Market, Style Spotters Live will be held on the morning of Tuesday, April 17.

 

Professional Tips and Insights

Outside of the activities on specific styles and trends, Market attendees will have the opportunity to get tips and insights into how to grow their business and improve their professional knowledge and skills. Highlights of the Market’s professional learning activities will include the Design Viewpoints Series, a four-part seminar presented by the High Point Market Authority and the American Society of Interior Designers.

The 2018 Spring Design Viewpoints Series seminars will help design professionals learn how to develop legal contracts to protect their business interests and increase company profits through design fees. The Series will also include seminars on attracting new clientele and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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Presentations from Business and Home Furnishings Leaders

Each High Point Market includes a number of presentations from top industry professionals and business experts. Market organizers offer the main presentations as part of the event’s keynote series, which features the people and ideas helping to advance the latest business and home furnishings trends.

Attendees at the 2018 Spring Market will hear from Trisha Yearwood, who will discuss her business ventures and tips for building brand awareness. The country singer and entrepreneur will address the Market audience while filming a special broadcast of her Facebook Live show, T’s Coffee Talk.

Alongside Yearwood, author and consumer futurist Doug Stephens will offer insight into how retail is changing and what business leaders can do to maintain and grow their customer base during the transformation. Following his keynote note on April 15, Stephens will host a book signing.

 

Hundreds of Exhibits

Many High Point attendees make the biannual trip to North Carolina to build new business relationships and see what the top companies in home furnishings and design are offering to industry professionals. Each year, more than 2,000 exhibiting companies show up at the Market to present their latest products and services.

Throughout the event, exhibitors host activities featuring food, entertainment, networking, and product introductions. The 2018 spring show will also feature a number of exhibitor-sponsored educational events, including workshops, seminars, and presentations.

 

Entertainment and Social Activities

To help attendees wind down after a long day of education and exhibits, High Point Market features a variety of social events. From early breakfasts and luncheons to evening receptions and cocktail parties, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy each day of the Market. There are also a number of special events presented with support from exhibiting companies and the High Point Market Authority.

On Saturday and Sunday of the 2018 Spring Market, musical artists Con Brio and Lee Ann Womack will put on concerts for attendees as part of the Stars Under the Stars event. Con Brio will perform on Saturday, April 14, and Lee Ann Womack will take the stage Sunday evening. Free food and beverages will be provided at each concert, which will start at 7:30 pm.

In addition to the two performances, the spring show will feature Third Night, an exhibitor-sponsored gala with live music and themed showroom parties. The gala will be held at the Market’s Hamilton Wrenn Design District on the evening of April 16.

furniture

This Is Why Sustainable Furniture Matters

With more people embracing the idea of green living, sustainability is a term that has become commonplace in conversations about everything from transportation to consumer goods. A new generation of adults who have grown up with a concern for the environment is driving these conversations forward and creating a demand for companies to create products using sustainable processes and materials. In the home furnishings industry, designers and company leaders are responding to this demand by offering quality pieces made from materials that reduce waste and are safe for the environment.

While some environmentally-conscious consumers choose to buy used furniture or pieces made of reclaimed materials, many are finding a variety of new-built sustainable furniture options that are as stylish as they are eco-friendly. As interest in decreasing one’s carbon footprint continues to build, consumers can expect to hear more about the trend toward sustainability in home furnishings. Here are some of the reasons the trend continues to gain momentum:

 

Modern Consumers Care about the Environment

In recent years, the relationship between consumers and the products they buy has changed. Rather than simply seeking the goods and services that give them the most satisfaction, modern consumers are reconciling their consumption habits with their commitment to social responsibility. For many, environmental issues are at the top of the list of concerns shaping their buying decisions.

environmentAccording to a recent personal consumption report from The Hartman Group, 87 percent of adults are part of what the Group calls the “World of Sustainability.” This includes those whose values, attitudes, and purchasing decisions are affected by the social, cultural, and environmental matters that they care about.

Another study from the global consumer-based company Unilever found that one-third of consumers buy from brands committed to advancing social and environmental good. The Unilever study also found that the majority of shoppers in both developed and emerging economies feel better about purchasing sustainable products.

This desire for and willingness to buy eco-friendly and responsibly produced products is also president in the home furnishings industry. The latest Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study from the Sustainable Furnishings Council suggests that most people are interested in sustainable furniture. In fact, 90 percent of respondents said they would buy eco-friendly home furnishings as long as they could afford it. Even more (97 percent) of respondents expressed a general concern with environmental issues.

 

Furniture Industry Leaders Are Committed to Sustainability

To show their own concern for the environment while reaching consumers who value sustainability, many furniture companies are offering eco-friendly options in their stores. Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., one of the world’s largest home furnishings manufacturers, is helping lead the way in this area by using responsible materials and implementing sustainable practices in its manufacturing facilities and HomeStores across the country.

Since it was founded in 1945, Ashley has refined its materials and processes to stay ahead of design trends and consumer preferences. Today, the company manufactures furniture using not only solid wood, but also engineered wood, which is one of the most sustainable materials available in the furniture industry. Ashley also remains committed to using adhesives and water-based paint finishes that reduce formaldehyde and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.

Each year, Ashley’s commitment to the environment also leads the company to recycle more than 280,000 tons of wood by-products and over 1,500 tons of metal. Because energy reduction is a major company-wide goal, Ashley Furniture also uses efficient lighting, intuitive machine controls, and advanced delivery logistics in its facilities and delivery fleets.

 

Responsible Manufacturing Is Good for Business

constructionIn addition to protecting the environment, furniture companies that are focused on responsible manufacturing have the opportunity to improve their bottom lines. By meeting the demand of consumers looking for sustainable products, they can increase sales and attract a loyal customer base. Improving manufacturing efficiency and decreasing energy consumption also enables companies like Ashley Furniture to reduce their overall operating costs.

Today, adopting sustainability as part of a business philosophy is more important than ever. A company that is mindful of its environmental and social impact has a competitive advantage in a market driven by consumers who value organizations working to contribute to the greater good.

 

Sustainability Doesn’t Have to Compromise Style or Durability

Most people in the market for new furniture would likely pass up a sustainably-made piece if it didn’t appeal to their personal sense of style. Fortunately, new materials currently used in the industry make it easy for manufacturers to create furniture that is durable, stylish, and sustainable.

The engineered wood used widely by companies such as Ashley Furniture is a renewable material manufactured with the same woods that comprise traditional lumber. Engineered wood products can be used for a variety of furniture designs and applications. Additionally, because they lack knots and a specific grain or texture, the products accept paint finishes very well and can be covered with a number of decorative surfaces. Highly resistant to warping or cracking, engineered wood is also extremely durable, making it an excellent choice for those who want sturdy furniture with a minimal carbon footprint.

entertainment center

This Is How Home Entertainment Centers Are Changing

Due to rapid advancements in technology, consumers now have access to an unprecedented number of home entertainment devices. Now, they just need somewhere to put them. The home entertainment furniture sector is growing along with the rest of the industry, expanding by approximately 3.5 percent to reach over $7 billion in sales in 2017. While the portion of the collective home furnishings sector occupied by the entertainment furniture market hasn’t changed, the prevailing styles of entertainment furniture are changing alongside the technology.

Following are some of the major trends shaping design and consumer preferences in the area of entertainment furniture:

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Scaling Down

In general, the physical footprint of entertainment devices in the home is shrinking. As televisions, video game consoles, and other home entertainment devices have become more technologically advanced, their design has become more streamlined, and the number of peripheral accessories required to power them has also declined.

While big-screen flat panel televisions are becoming more affordable and, therefore, more common in American homes, even the most expansive screens now require spaces with minimal depth. These TVs are typically lighter than their recent counterparts, the big-screen rear-projection televisions popular in decades past, allowing consumers to easily mount them on their walls. And while full, multi-speaker surround sound systems are still a staple of the home audio market, more consumers are turning to floor-standing tower speakers or simple pairs of soundbars and subwoofers to heighten their home entertainment experiences while taking up less space.

With the advent of digital cable and the growing number of media streaming services becoming popular among consumers, fewer find themselves searching for a place to set their devices, such as DVD players and cable boxes. New technologies continue to consolidate multiple sources of home entertainment into fewer devices. For example, individuals with a smart TV might require only the television itself and a soundbar to create the ideal entertainment environment.

All of these tech trends point to one reality for consumers: we now need far less space to accommodate our home entertainment systems. More furniture shoppers are turning to small, sleek TV stands rather than full media centers, opting for pieces that require minimal storage for a few small devices rather than full wall units with rows of shelving for movies, DVDs, and accessories. Some consumers are choosing to free up their TV stands to serve as extra storage by wall-mounting their TVs.

As home entertainment furniture declines in size to accommodate a smaller number of more technologically robust electronics, ventilation has become an issue. When storing their media equipment in smaller, often concealed spaces, consumers must take care to ensure that all of their devices are positioned to ensure adequate air flow.

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Flexible Design

With consumers moving toward more minimalist credenzas for the centerpieces of their entertainment furnishings, furniture retailers have begun to offer a wider range of flexible, modular designs for entertainment centers. Consumers can now choose from hutches, shelving, and extra cabinetry to fit their unique multimedia storage needs. In addition to allowing consumers to customize their home entertainment centers, these modular designs can facilitate easier access to the various devices and wiring necessary to power today’s entertainment systems. In addition, modular designs can make it much easier to reorganize the entertainment center, which is sometimes required when consumers upgrade or replace their technology.

 

Multipurpose Spaces

When shopping for new furniture for a home entertainment room, most shoppers will select from smaller, sleeker pieces with a wider range of modular additions and decorative side pieces. Now that consumers are demanding less functionality from their entertainment furniture, they are finding more diverse uses for both entertainment pieces and rooms. The reduced need for expansive wall units is also allowing consumers to focus more on style. Now, what once served as a decorative accent table could very well become a home entertainment hub. Furniture companies are taking note of this trend, and many are producing TV stands to match a wider range of aesthetics, with a number of them offering unique features such as drop-down fronts.

The trend toward scaled-down entertainment furniture has also blurred some of the boundaries between functional rooms in the home. For example, an individual who regularly uses a smart TV to access email and surf the web might outfit an entertainment hub to serve as a temporary office. Advancements in home furnishings and automation are also lessening the need for consumers to dedicate an entire room to entertainment. Due to aspects such as lighting, projector screens, and audio systems accessible from a smartphone, it is now easier than ever to transform a high-traffic family room or understated office into the perfect venue to watch a movie.

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Important Trends You Need to Watch at the 2018 Winter Las Vegas Market

lasvegasmarketlogoFrom January 28 to February 1, 2018, business leaders, sales professionals, and designers from all corners of the home furnishings sector will gather for the latest installation of the Las Vegas Market. Like its predecessors, the 2018 Winter Las Vegas Market will feature an exciting slate of programming that will enable attendees to network with others in the industry, earn professional education credits, and learn about the latest trends impacting the furniture sector.

The Las Vegas Market organizes its exciting slate of programming into a number of series, each offering a different perspective on this year’s most impactful trends. The following market programs will guide attendees on a journey into the artistry, history, and aesthetic themes of 2018’s top home furnishings trends:

First Look Trends

At each Las Vegas Market, the First Look program provides an exclusive sneak peek into the trends expected to impact the industry in the year to come. Market organizers break these emerging design schemes into distinct vignettes, each with a creative title that sums up the overarching theme of the trend. Attendees can then peruse these First Look Trends several ways: on the Las Vegas Market website, within the market’s exclusive biannual First Look publication, and at live, themed displays at the Las Vegas Market Grand Plaza. Attendees can also gain further insight into these trends at the First Look Seminar. This year, Julie Smith Vincenti from Nine Muses Media will host the continuing education unit (CEU)-accredited event on the morning of January 29.

The following are the Winter 2018 First Look Trends:

Romantic Realists—This vignette highlights the paint colors that are likely to dominate the home furnishings sector in 2018, as well as the artistic eras that provided inspiration for many of today’s most popular designs. It features dramatic hues ranging from vibrant red to oceanic blue, with deep greys and muted, blue-grey pastels adding a sense of calm and simplicity. These emotive shades contrast beautifully with furnishings in stark neutral tones, and they offer an emotional depth that often calls to mind 19th-century romantic aesthetics as well as those of the subsequent realist movement.

The designs in Romantic Realists draw inspiration from such noteworthy paintings as “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix, as well as works by Francois Millet, Honoré Daumier, and Gustave Courbet. It features pieces by leading brands including Mitchell Black, Manhattan Comfort, and TOV Furniture, with evocative paint shades provided by Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Glidden, and OLYMPIC.

Easy Now—The Winter 2018 housewares and dining vignette will highlight both style and functionality. While Las Vegas Market always dedicates space in its First Look series to what many consider the center of the home, this market’s kitchen and dining trends will specifically cover innovative, time-saving products and designs that make meal preparation easy and efficient.

Year of the Dog—The Las Vegas Market will celebrate the Chinese New Year a few weeks early with Year of the Dog, a vignette created in honor of man’s best friend. With the Chinese Lunar Calendar transitioning to a new zodiac on February 16, it’s the perfect time to honor the bond between humans and their four-legged pals with a variety of home décor and gift products.

This diverse vignette will span multiple categories of home furnishings and décor, featuring a wide variety of decorative items and gifts adorned with lively canine motifs. Products included in Year of the Dog will include pillows, rugs, and printed items such as stationary and journals. Naturally, this First Look display will also showcase items for dogs, such as beds, toys, and pet supplies.

Storytellers—Each season, one First Look vignette highlights handmade products throughout the furniture, home, and gift categories. This year’s impressive artisanal works display will showcase storytellers—the creative minds who channel their passion, conviction, and determination to create inspiring handcrafted pieces that make an impact on the world. This vignette will feature pieces by designers like Jen Mayrand of Badass Babe, who recycles spent ammunition to create gifts that support veterans’ organizations, and Joe Moore of Olivina, a body-care company dedicated to sourcing simple, natural, and healthy ingredients.

Pantone’s Color of the Year

pantone logoAt the conclusion of each year, Pantone unveils the color that will set the mood for the fashion and home furnishings trends of the months ahead. For 2018, the leading provider of color-match and home-design tools selected Ultra Violet (Pantone 18-3838), a dramatic purple hue that evokes creativity, passion, and an air of mysticism. Leaning slightly toward the cooler end of the color spectrum, the deep indigo is similar to the shades favored by beloved creative minds such as Prince and David Bowie.

In addition to being a bellwether for emerging styles, Pantone’s color of the year always reflects larger societal trends. The brand chose this year’s color with the knowledge that many people are living through complex, challenging, and often fearful times. With Ultra Violet, Pantone offers inspiration to face events with optimism and personal empowerment. As noted by Pantone Vice President Laurie Pressman in an interview with the Associated Press, the color is reminiscent not only of freedom and fearlessness, but also of the serenity that comes from thoughtful introspection.

Pantone will explore the impact and execution of this and other prevailing color trends on Tuesday, January 30, in a workshop entitled, PANTONE Color Institute Presents: Inspiring and Expressing Color: Defining the Essential Color Trends for Home in 2018.

 

Ahead of the Curve

Las Vegas Market also showcases the most impactful trends of the day with Ahead of the Curve, a program that calls on professional interior designers to offer their unique insights into current home furnishings trends. Moderated by Kate Bergeron, Luxe’s style editor, the Winter 2018 Ahead of the Curve program benefits from the expertise of Julia Buckingham of Buckingham Interiors, Benjamin Johnston of Benjamin Johnston Design, and the team of Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield, representing Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design.

Together, these thought leaders will highlight a few aesthetic themes that seem to encompass the overarching trends of this year’s top home furnishings collections. These themes are: 90’s Simplicity, which will showcase the juncture of retro and modern styles in simple, understated designs; Imperfect is the New Perfect, which will explore how natural, timeworn textures are adding depth to today’s home furnishings; Heavy Metals, which will highlight the prevailing trend of mixed-metal designs; and Flora + Fauna, an exploration of how these timeless motifs are breathing new life into interior spaces.

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The Top 7 Furniture Trends You Need to Watch in 2018

As a new year approaches, many consumers may be planning to signify the transition with a change in decor. Furniture shoppers, as well as interior designers and furniture business leaders, should take a moment to explore the materials, colors, and styles that will play a role in shaping next year’s trends.

The following are some of the major trends likely to impact the furniture industry in 2018:

  1. Comfort

A number of emerging design trends promote the idea of the home as a place for relaxation and tranquility. Upcoming pieces feature shapes and materials that, while attractive, emphasize coziness over luxury or flashy style. The practice of separating large, open rooms into smaller nooks is gaining in popularity as a way to create spaces that feel comfortable and intimate. Some designers are turning to fashionable room dividers to accomplish this goal, but thoughtfully arranged furnishings—such as a chair, a side table, and a bookcase tucked into a corner to create a reading nook—can add an element of coziness to larger spaces all on their own.

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Comfort is a priority not only in the composition of home furnishings, but in their designs as well. Many new sofas are curved and low to the ground, with invitingly plush upholstery. Linen is becoming more common as a material for both bedding and upholstered seating, but padded velvet and suede have also reemerged as sought-after coverings for sofas and chairs. Velvet can add a luxurious yet eclectic flair to modern living spaces; the material exudes an elegant vintage air, while a wide variety of color options—from neutral shades to deep jewel tones—make it ideal for both conservative and adventurous shoppers and designers.

  1. Dramatic Wood Grains

The influx of retro-inspired styles, such as velvet upholstery, is coinciding with the renewed popularity of dramatic wood tones in furniture, cabinets, doors, walls, and flooring. The light brown of many natural wood varieties is popular in small spaces, where it can help brighten and expand the room. However, the luxurious deep brown of wood grains like mahogany has also become a popular design staple in major pieces such as beds and tables, as well as wall paneling and cabinetry.

  1. New Neutrals

While traditional white kitchens and bathrooms will likely never go out of style, a number of dramatic shades are replacing pearlescent tones in kitchen and bathroom fixtures, flooring, cabinetry, and appliances. Dark shades, such as deep blue, green, brown, charcoal, and plum, are becoming popular base colors in the kitchen, while copper, concrete, and other stones are starting to replace the stark white often seen on sinks and appliances.

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  1. Warm Tones

Elsewhere in the home, warm shades have begun to overtake many of the cool jewel tones popular in interiors in 2017. Consumers and designers are relying on shades like terracotta, tobacco, rust, and russet to add a comforting energy to the home. Shades of teal and red, often arranged in tonal designs that stack multiple hues atop one another, are providing contrast to these warm neutrals. At the same time, consumers should expect to see the continuing popularity of millennial pink, which is likely to fade away from its 2017 prominence to serve as more of an understated contrast to complimentary shades such as berry.

  1. Metallic Accents

Copper will continue to be a popular material for light fixtures, furniture bases, and decorative accents. However, metallic gray, gold, and bronze are also likely to gain in popularity. In addition to adding a sense of both luxury and durability to wood and upholstered pieces, metal accents contrast beautifully with leather and stone. Consumers should expect to see all of these combinations in the coming year.

  1. Industrial and Recycled Pieces

In addition to vintage home furnishings and light fixtures, consumers are showing more interest in industrial-inspired pieces. Tables, storage units, and even bed frames with an industrial aesthetic are quickly becoming a trendy way to add rustic charm to every room of the house. Industrial-style furnishings that combine wood and steel elements, as well as creatively upcycled pieces, will continue to contribute to the casual chic décor of American homes in 2018.

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  1. Simplicity

Inspired in part by the minimalist slant of Scandinavian interior designs, many home furnishings collections are favoring simplicity over elaborate shapes and designs. Geometric patterns, clean lines, and gradual angles will be common features of home furnishings in 2018. Oftentimes, these pared-down pieces will pay homage to retro design periods. This will be especially true in the bedroom, where designers are taking a more understated, minimalist approach to create spaces primed for relaxation. While recent years saw a focus on ornate, luxurious bedroom motifs, new designs will draw beauty from soft neutrals, delicate materials, and an overarching sense of rest and tranquility.