5 Things to Expect at the Upcoming High Point Market

High Point MarketTwice each year, the High Point Market sends a surge of excitement throughout the home furnishings industry. The biannual home furnishings and décor expo is a staple on the calendars of leading retailers, designers, and manufacturers, who are all gearing up for the next fall market, scheduled for October 14 to 18, 2017.

Previous High Point Markets have featured an extensive selection of new product introductions, professional development opportunities, engaging style presentations, and more. The upcoming event will be no exception—read on to find out what’s in store for guests at the 2017 Fall High Point Market.

  1. An Expansive International Event

High Point Market is the largest home furnishings trade show in the world, welcoming over 75,000 attendees to its showrooms twice per year. The event brings visitors from more than 100 countries to High Point, North Carolina, and at each market, approximately 10 percent of those in attendance travel from outside the United States.

Located about 70 miles north of Charlotte, High Point’s downtown district transforms to accommodate an unrivaled selection of home furnishings showrooms. Spanning 180 buildings, the High Point Market’s exhibitors fill 11.5 million square feet of showroom space. Each market features over 2,000 exhibitors, presenting opportunities for guests to see tens of thousands of new products.

  1. Numerous New Products


Each High Point Market presents an opportunity for furniture retailers and designers to unveil their newest creations to an extremely broad audience. For the 2017 fall show, the High Point Market Authority will team up with several experts in home furnishings design for the latest iteration of its New Product Premiere program. Developed to help market attendees navigate the myriad of new products and style trends that will be on display during the show, the New Product Premiere program will feature exciting new content shared across the High Point Market’s social media profiles. Following an initial Twitter Chat on August 30, market organizers and Style Spotters will fill the weeks leading up to the fall market with exclusive product previews shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The market will also feature a number of special events making the launch of new collections by leading home furnishings companies. For example, day one of the event will include an elegant cocktail party hosted by High Point Market Title Sponsor Lexington Home Brands. Here, the high-end retailer will debut its latest indoor, outdoor, and lifestyle products, including its new lifestyle collection by designer Barclay Butera.

  1. A Sneak Peek at Emerging Trends

As market attendees view newly released products from the most influential designers in the home furnishings industry, they will likely notice several colors, shapes, patterns, and materials that seem to dominate each showroom floor. The High Point Market Authority has organized multiple programs to guide attendees as they explore the latest trends influencing home furnishings.

For several years, the High Point Market Style Spotters have enhanced the market experience by providing expert insights on the looks and pieces that dominate each event. Comprised of several pairs of leading designers from trendy brands including Ishka Designs and Parker Kennedy Living, the Style Spotters are responsible for the events and presentations that pinpoint each market’s prevailing style trends. For the fall 2017 show, this group of home décor experts will host Style Spotters Live, a panel discussion showcasing the top products and trends from the showroom floor. Following this event, each team of Style Spotters will lead market attendees on an exclusive tour of their favorite showrooms.

Market attendees will also have a chance to glimpse the style trends of the future with a program hosted in partnership with Fashion Snoops. Over the course of the market, the trend forecasting agency will facilitate pop-up booths, a digital trend report, and a buyer’s guide to help guests navigate trends. This unique program will begin a day before the official market launch with a presentation entitled, “Culture to Product, A Forward Look into Spring 2018 Market Trends.”

  1. Insightful Speaking Engagements

living room

At High Point Market, furniture industry professionals will find no shortage of opportunities to learn from some of most influential entrepreneurial and creative minds in the business. This fall’s keynote series will feature a presentation from Paula Wallace, the founding president of the Savannah College of Art and Design, who will explore the many ways in which design can enhance and transform communities. In addition, guests will hear a keynote address from Drew and Jonathan Scott, the widely recognizable stars of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Also the founders of Scott Living, Drew and Jonathan will offer insight into the value that meticulousness can offer your business in a presentation titled, “Big Picture, Small Details: Why We Sweat The Small Stuff.”

Besides the keynote series, attendees can also broaden their horizons during multiple educational sessions within the Design Viewpoints Series. Designed to provide quality professional development opportunities for designers, these engagements allow attendees to earn CEU credits while exploring topics such as global business, luxury product development, and design in the digital age.

  1. Unique Opportunities for the Hospitality Industry

The fall 2017 market will feature a unique concentration of product displays and professional resources for the hospitality industry. Professionals seeking the latest furnishing trends to enhance their hospitality businesses will find showrooms created by more than 75 leading hospitality suppliers. They’ll also have the opportunity to take guided showroom tours with brands such as Baskerville and Global Design Americas. On October 15 and 16, the High Point Market Authority will host a number of special engagements for the hospitality industry, including presentations from leading designers, including Christopher Guy, and a panel discussion on the foundations of hospitality.





Las Vegas

This Is What Happened at the Summer Las Vegas Market

lasvegasmarketlogoHeld biannually at the 5-million-square-foot World Market Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Las Vegas Market is the preeminent furniture and home décor expo in the western United States. The market’s organizers have continuously strived to reach new heights since its launch in summer 2005, presenting a new array of engaging displays, new product announcements, and exciting opportunities for networking and professional development twice each year.

The Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market continued this tradition by setting new records for attendance and retailer participation while showcasing a number of new trends. The following are a few highlights from the most recent Las Vegas Market.

What Was New?

The Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market demonstrated the market’s growing popularity among buyers and retailers in the home furnishings, gift, and décor sectors. It featured a record-setting number of new temporary displays, welcoming over 150 first-time temporary exhibitors, which brought the number of temporary displays at the Pavilions to more than 500. Within the World Market Center, attendees perused 72 new or expanded showrooms spanning over 160,000 square feet of new floor space. Brands unveiling never-before-seen showcases at the most recent summer market included Home Insights, Turnkey, Vanguard Furniture, and Zuo Décor.

The increasingly diverse market attendance allowed many companies to reach out to new clients. One exhibitor of handmade wares, Funky Rock Designs, found that 80 percent of all its orders were from first-time customers. The greater attendance was due in part to record-setting participation from industry groups and associations, with nearly 40 organizations represented.

Attendance Trends

Las Vegas Market has grown its attendance exponentially in recent years, welcoming the highest number of buyers ever during the most recent winter market. The Summer Las Vegs Market continued this trend, welcoming a comparable number of attendees to its home furnishings showrooms. While the number of furniture buyers held steady, the event welcomed significantly more gift buyers, reporting a 6 percent year-on-year growth that marks the sixth consecutive year of expansion in this category. In addition, outdoor furnishings companies observed an uptick in buyer activity, and market organizers tracked a 12 percent gain in casual and outdoor furniture shoppers compared to summer 2016.

Market organizers also attributed this year’s sustained surge in attendance to heightened engagement from the interior design sector. While the majority of interior designers present at this summer’s Las Vegas Market hailed from Nevada, California, and Arizona, the event saw an 11 percent boost in attendees from the Midwest and a 25 percent rise in designers from northeastern states.

All in all, the increased attendance at the Summer Las Vegas Market provided ample opportunities for home furnishings companies to connect with new clients. Event organizers including Robert Maricich, the CEO of International Market Centers, noted that the recent growth in both new buyers and repeat attendees has garnered the event heightened industry attention and inspired new advocacy efforts.

Benefits and Opportunities

With more than 800 home furnishings design and retail companies in attendance, including multiple top-100 retailers, the Summer Las Vegas Market provided ample opportunities for industry professionals to familiarize themselves with the latest trends. This year, market organizers also observed an upsurge in engagement from many new regional markets. The event’s expanding attendance included an influx of guests from the West Coast, the Midwest, and Mexico. More specifically, the market saw an 11 percent rise in registrations from the Midwest region, as well as a 25 percent increase in attendees from northeastern states.

These trends solidify the market’s position as the West’s leading home furnishings trade show; increasingly, the event is attracting home furnishings professionals who live too far away to conveniently travel to the biannual High Point Market in North Carolina. In addition to praising the geographic diversity of attendees, sellers were also pleased to find a vast array of product categories, including an enlarged temporary exhibit area.

While offering numerous opportunities for home furnishings professionals to get a closer look at the products changing home décor trends, the Summer Las Vegas Market also enables attendees to forge new business relationships, reinvigorate old ones, and advance their professional skills and industry knowledge. Throughout the five-day event, attendees gained new insights form special events including the FIRST LOOK trend presentation, Ahead of the Curve seminar, and the #ViewonVegas showcase featuring influential designers’ top market picks.

Looking Forward

Recently, International Market Centers fell under the ownership of the Blackstone Group. This acquisition will allow the firm behind the Las Vegas market to access new resources that will allow it to grow and advance in new ways. In the future, the Las Vegas Market plans to enhance its role as the leading market destination on the West Coast, continuing to offer an increasingly diverse array of products and educational opportunities for today’s leading home furnishings and décor professionals.

Keep an eye out for more information about the next Winter Las Vegas Market, which will take place from January 28 to February 1, 2018.

office furniture

Here Are the Most Significant Trends Impacting Office Furniture

The contract and office furniture industry has been expanding steadily in recent years, with much of its growth attributed to the increasing success of smaller furniture firms. As the sector remains on track to exceed 2016 sales, a number of factors are influencing the spaces where companies choose to set up shop, as well as the furnishings they choose to fill them with. Here are the growing trends in modern office furniture and design today.

  1. Collaboration

Seeking to harness the innovative spirit and team-oriented culture of successful Silicon Valley ventures, many companies have borrowed the open-office floorplan seen at a number of prominent tech startups. This is led to a drastic decline in individualized space—while the average amount of office space dedicated to each employee was approximately 400 square feet in 1965, now, companies allocate just 151 square feet per each employee. Moreover, a much smaller portion of today’s office spaces are separated or obscured by walls. Cubicle clusters and multi-person workstations are common in today’s offices, and some companies are opting not to have assigned seating at all.

office meeting room

While moving away from private offices to open workspaces might require an adjustment period for more seasoned professionals, open floorplans present a number of potential benefits. They encourage workplace cultures that are not only more collaborative and creative, but also more transparent and egalitarian. For example, many executives are choosing to set up their workspaces within the open office environment, and those with their own offices are more likely to work within accessible, open-facing spaces. In addition, the use of glass walls—particularly to enclose conference rooms—is helping firms create working environments that feel collaborative and transparent (literally and figuratively).

  1. Technology

As the tools employees use to complete their work become more advanced, their workstations must evolve to accommodate them. Office furniture designers are continuously responding to the needs of today’s tech-empowered workforce with considerations such as wire management systems, USB charging ports, and adjustable desks. As technology has allowed many workers to untether themselves from the traditional office, many companies are also incorporating temporary workspaces into their office designs. These unique spaces might exist as hubs to be used by remote employees when they visit the office, or they might be collaborative spaces where employees can gather together to work on a project using their laptops or tablets.

As modern businesses become more digitally empowered, they will need to rely on technology such as cloud storage to keep their information safe and secure. For this reason, firms will likely require less physical storage in their office spaces going forward, thus demonstrating just one way how technology impacts not only what office furniture a company purchases, but how the office operates. Essentially, the advent of smart objects and the Internet of Things has resulted in modernized office spaces where functions like lighting, security, and even meeting-room scheduling are controlled by an intuitive, interconnected network.

  1. Functionality

As technology enables employees to adopt increasingly mobile working strategies, companies are making efforts to ensure that the time spent in the office is as worthwhile and productive as possible. This necessitates choosing furniture that adds value to the workplace, whether by enhancing efficiency or improving employee comfort and morale. Standing or adjustable desks, temporary laptop docking stations, and other forms of flexible furniture are emerging to accommodate the basic day-to-day needs of the 21st-century office.

office furniture

Although individual employee spaces are dwindling in size, they are also becoming more specialized. While private offices were once reserved for a company’s leadership, some business organizations are beginning to allocate space by need rather than seniority. For example, a product development engineer who spends the bulk of his or her time in the office would benefit from a dedicated workspace, while an executive who spends the majority of the workday meeting with clients and partners might choose to make use of the office’s temporary workstations.

This trend is representative of a larger move toward activity-based office design. Rather than furnishing their offices to accommodate individual employees or departments, companies are planning their workspaces based around functions. For example, a modern office space might feature a blend of cubicles, large media-enabled meeting rooms, smaller collaborative spaces, and private hubs for temporary individual work, as well as dedicated spaces for employee fun and relaxation.

  1. Culture and creativity

Firms are going to greater lengths to incorporate their unique value propositions into every aspect of their business, including their office spaces. It’s become more common for companies to choose unique, eye-catching furnishings in hues that match their brand color schemes, and to incorporate artistic aspects that reflect the organization’s philosophy and “personality.” In addition to inspiring employee engagement through collaborative seating arrangements, companies are also integrating design aspects that encourage networking and creativity (e.g., whiteboard or chalkboard walls, game rooms, and open lounge areas) to further enhance their organizational cultures.

  1. Comfort, wellness, and morale

There’s no doubt that the workplace environment can have a significant impact on employee mood and productivity. In one survey of LinkedIn professionals, 77 percent reported feeling happier in office spaces with art, 74 percent described it as inspiring, and 27 percent noted that thoughtful décor had a positive impact on their productivity.

office furniture

Companies are making a greater effort to design workspaces that promote a productive, open, and casual environment that is conducive to overall happiness and health. Many employees are benefiting from the option to use standing desks and spend more time moving throughout the office, reducing the numerous detrimental impacts of sustained sitting. In addition, businesses are striving to incorporate design principles that inspire a sense of serenity and counter the sterile office stereotype. For example, natural lighting, loft-style architecture, and the use of wood and other organic materials are becoming popular ways to enhance the office aesthetic while creating a more open, “natural” environment.


4 Exciting Design Trends to Watch in the Second Half of 2017

The first half of 2017 is complete, so we can form a better picture of the design trends that are driving demand in the furniture industry. Furniture professionals have already had an opportunity to explore the sector’s latest offerings at major expos, including the winter and summer Las Vegas Market. The spring High Point Market has also passed, and designers, manufacturers, and retailers alike are now awaiting the Fall High Point Market in October. As we head into the second half of the year, here are a few of the trends that have saturated the furniture sector or are beginning to take hold:

  1. Metal Finishes

In 2017, metal finishes moved to the forefront of home décor. Brass, rose gold, copper, and various other brushed metals are providing a pop of natural color in every room of the house, appearing in everything from kitchen light fixtures to accents on upholstered furniture. Furniture designers and home owners are increasingly opting to combine multiple metal finishes in a single space or piece of furniture, which can lend a more casual, natural feel, whereas a single texture might feel too controlled. A similar effect stems from pairing metal with glass, which is evident in stylish mirrors such as those designed by Michael S. Smith for Mirror Image Home, or in light fixtures designed by Ralph Lauren for Visual Comfort.

metal furniture

As polished metal finishes become staples of home décor, another trend is adding an elegant flair to metal pieces: the color black. Dark shades are emerging as a popular trend in metal-finished furnishings. Multimedia pieces combining various metals or multiple materials—such as metal and glass—continue to catch the eye of trend-seekers.

  1. Craftsmanship and Artistry

Consumers are favoring pieces that showcase the skills and creativity of furniture designers and artisans. Simple, practical pieces that offer quality and functionality—such as chairs recently released by Ethnicraft and Oly—draw the eye with intricate detailing within their materials. Rather than featuring eye-catching patterns or upholstery, these pieces showcase fine detailing in the texture of materials such as wood.


While a number of companies are highlighting beauty through simplicity, others are creating more vibrant pieces that double as artistic focal points. Pieces such as Global View’s abstractly designed accent pillows or unique seating by HC28 provide a pop of color while drawing the eye with unique lines and patterns. Another prime example of furniture as art is Cappelini’s recent redesign of Joe Colombo’s 1969 Tube chair. The original product attracted attention as the first modular armchair that you could reposition for different seating positions. Updated with new manufacturing technology and materials, the updated piece honors the shape and function of the original while providing an eye-catching focal point.

  1. Rounded Lines and Vibrant Patterns

A number of furniture designers are currently turning to irregular shapes and angles to add a subtle amount of style and contrast to otherwise understated contemporary pieces. Unexpected curves, gradually tapered heights, and dramatic angles on major pieces such as sofas and coffee tables lead the eye throughout the room and provide a contrast against unique wall coverings, particularly the organic textures and designs that are on-trend this year.


As the larger lines that form sofas, tables, chairs, and other bigger pieces contribute to the overall ambience of a room, designers are using smaller lines to create intricate patterns that add new depth to existing design schemes. Patterns such as herringbone and chevron have become popular in backsplashes, wallpaper, furniture finishes, and upholstery, often appearing in neutral color schemes that derive texture from contrasting materials such as porcelain or stone. This year, consumers will likely continue to see geometric patterns in flooring, wall coverings, textiles, and furnishings alike.

  1. White and Pastels

This year, furniture companies and interior designers are relying on the color white to add an aura of calm and refined simplicity to spaces throughout the home. All shades of white are popular in seating, bedding, wall coverings, light fixtures, and virtually every other home furnishings category, with textured finishes and materials such as gesso, plaster, and resin adding a bit of depth to the otherwise clean design. The industry’s interest in the color white extends to materials including metal and stone, and it is especially common in the kitchen, where light color schemes have recently dominated. Even so, it is becoming routine to see swathes of dramatic, darker colors set against light backdrops, as consumers increasingly choose colors like black, gray, and dark blue for cabinets and islands.

white furniture

In keeping with the current industry preference for light and airy color schemes, blush pink is currently one of the most widely used colors in home furnishings and decor, appearing on fabrics, lamps, wall hangings, accessories, furniture, and more. Commonly seen in a lacquered finish, this light, fun shade can add a youthful ambience to a number of rooms. For a more sophisticated take, many designers are turning to home furnishings in slightly muted pastel shades. Providing a new take on saccharine hues such as mint green and baby blue, more mature tones such as sage and dusty blue are adding a gentler touch to wall coverings, upholstery, furniture, and other décor staples.


4 of the Most Significant Trends in Furniture Manufacturing

Technology impacts every industry in a variety of ways: from presenting new possibilities for sales and marketing to enabling companies to reduce their impact on the environment, digital innovation is changing the way people work, create new products, and live their lives. For furniture companies, technology has become a crucial consideration in not only advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers, but also in creating new items efficiently.

While the $25 billion US furniture industry continues to expand, driven by a surging housing sector, it still has room to grow. According to IBISWorld, increasing foreign imports prevent it from reaching its full potential, and for many firms, technology presents an exciting new growth opportunity:

  1. Virtual Prototyping

The advent of advanced 3D imaging tools and, more recently, virtual reality has unlocked a new world of possibilities for furniture prototyping. Rather than expending the time and resources to create physical models of their products, furniture designers can now create digital representations of them. This promises to add a great deal of speed and flexibility to the overall product development process. In addition to improving speed to market, virtual prototypes also allow designers more freedom to correct mistakes, test new ideas, and customize items to meet consumer preferences.


The potential for greater personalization is one of the most significant benefits of virtual prototyping. In addition to enabling furniture companies to more easily create products to unique customer specifications, virtual modeling also provides high-quality media for use in 360° models and interior design tools. Beyond enhancing the interactivity of a furniture company’s e-commerce platform, virtual prototyping can present new marketing opportunities while cutting costs on traditional advertising photography.

  1. Smarter Production

Advanced cutting machinery is one of the most significant innovations to recently impact furniture manufacturing. Capable of processing a variety of materials from woods to plastics and composites, computer-controlled cutting machines known as CNC routers allow furniture manufacturers to create products with greater precision, speed, and quality. On a basic level, these technologies work by processing CAD designs into g-code, which provides directions for the automated manufacture of physical products. In this way, computer-controlled machinery has enabled manufacturers to save valuable time and money and can have a positive impact on both a company’s customer service and bottom line.

  1. Sustainability

A number of furniture companies have recently made sustainability a core component of their business strategy. Sustainable manufacturing is important to these companies not only because of its cost-saving benefits, but for ethical reasons as well. It’s also increasingly important as consumers shop with a growing amount of social consciousness.


Furniture manufacturers can increase their sustainability in a variety of ways. By assessing the life cycles of their products, they can minimize the environmental impact of each stage in their supply chain. Organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council work to help companies establish safe, sustainable lumber supply chains.

Additionally, the Sustainable Furnishings Council has issued several guidelines on sustainable furniture production. These promote the use of formaldehyde-free materials composed of recycled and/or recyclable content whenever possible. The organization advises upholstered furniture companies to use organic fabrics such as soy-polyurethane blends or latex rubber, as well as batting and packaging materials containing materials such as down or organic cotton rather than petroleum-based substances.

At the same time, the responsible manufacturing standards established by the International Organization for Standardization guideline ISO 14001 provide further sustainable best practices for energy use, waste management, handling hazardous materials, and resource consumption in the manufacturing sector.

Furniture companies are also considering sustainability in their overall design philosophies. By creating furniture that is highly durable and intended for long-term use, they can limit the need for replacement and reduce the amount of resources consumed by the industry over time.

  1. Technology Investment

Recently, the Centre for Industrial Studies (CSIL) conducted a survey of the top Asian, European, and North American upholstered furniture manufacturers. Designed to explore the most pressing challenges and leading solutions in the industry, the study revealed prevailing opinions about emerging manufacturing technology in the furniture sector, as well as how companies plan to harness these new tools.

The final report shows that 47 percent of manufacturing leaders hope to increase their company’s use of technology, while 70 percent report having a medium or high likelihood of increasing investments in manufacturing technology in the coming years.

However, 28 percent of manufacturers said they had only a minor propensity for making technology investments. Around 11 percent who do not use advanced digital solutions said they planned to implement them in the near future, while 12 percent reported that they had no plans to adopt advanced or automated manufacturing solutions.

There is no doubt that there are benefits to advanced technology for furniture manufacturers, but many barriers can stand in the way of implementation. In addition to concerns over initial installation costs and training resources, some firms struggle to convince their employees to get on board with advanced or automated technologies. It is possible that, in the future, it will be necessary to change this perspective to avoid being left behind. As technology continues to become the standard in furniture manufacturing, many of these companies may begin to innovate not only to increase their efficiency and competitiveness, but also to attract a new generation of tech-empowered workers.

office chair

These Are the Motion Furniture Trends You Need to Know

In recent decades, motion furniture—furniture that reclines or features moving parts that can be adjusted for comfort—was notorious for prioritizing function over style. Buyers often relegated these pieces to far-off entertainment rooms, renovated basements, or living room corners, rather than make them the focal points of a room. However, as advancing technology makes it more possible for manufacturers to offer better function in a sleeker, more subdued package, motion furniture is gradually taking a more central role in home interior design.

Read on to learn more about the factors driving the most significant changes in the motion furniture sector.


reclining sofaTechnology has spurred the development of new motion furniture products since the early 2000s, when the advent of flat screen televisions caused many consumers to seek a more theatrical home entertainment experience. Tech innovation has made motion furniture one of the only categories to undergo consistent changes to its fundamental design. While aesthetic trends influence the look of virtually every home furnishings product, technological advances are changing the nature of motion furniture manufacturing, use, and repairs.

More advanced motor systems have allowed manufacturers to develop seating with several different motion mechanisms. Today’s most popular motion sofas and chairs offer users several ways to recline, including separate functions to adjust the head rest, ottoman, and lumbar support. New motion technology is also facilitating the development of more versatile, user-friendly motion furniture.

For example, a new base system and power conversion kit created by Evolution Incorporated allows companies to transform manual motion mechanisms into electrically-powered systems. This has created exciting new opportunities for promotional demonstrations on the sales floor and allowed companies to save valuable warehouse space. At the same time, it has also made it easier for customers to customize and repair their seating sets.

In addition to facilitating more convenient and efficient motion furniture designs, technology has also led companies to introduce new features designed for the modern, technology-immersed lifestyle. Today’s top motion seating arrangements include cleverly concealed USB ports and plugs that allow people to simultaneously charge and use their smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices from the comfort of their couches.

A growing number of motion furniture producers are also offering Bluetooth functionality. One such company, Klaussner, recently released an app that allows users to connect to their motion sofas via Bluetooth and adjust their seating directly from their smartphones or tablets. In addition to allowing users to adjust three power mechanisms, the app also includes a memory function to allow users to save their favorite seating positions.

In recent years, features such as speakers and reading lights have added further value to motion furniture collections. As time goes on, these innovations are allowing motion furniture to not only offer enhanced comfort, but also to serve as a command center for the most advanced home entertainment systems.

Health Benefits

As motion furniture technology improves, companies are able to offer products with health benefits as well. Sofas and recliners with added lumbar support have become popular, as has motion furniture with built-in massage functions. As motion technology becomes more advanced, adjustable beds are becoming an attractive sub-category for consumers seeking home furnishings that promote health and wellness. With a variety of adjustable metrics, motion beds allow customers to configure sleeping positions that help relieve conditions such as sleep apnea, heartburn, acid reflux, and poor circulation.

Motion furniture is also facilitating healthier habits in the workplace. Sitting for long periods of time is associated with a number of health risks, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and cardiovascular disease. However, adjustable desks are allowing employees to spend more time on their feet while in the office, while at the same time helping companies accommodate an increasingly mobile workforce.

Consumer Trends

A recent survey conducted by Home Furnishings Business’ parent company, Impact Consulting Services, found that 47.3 percent of respondents count style among their chief concerns when purchasing motion furniture—although just over 52 percent reported that style wasn’t a potential barrier to purchase. Although the majority of consumers still prefer manual motion mechanisms, a growing number are beginning to appreciate power and automated reclining mechanisms. In addition, 52.1 percent of survey respondents said they’re willing to pay $50 more for a power mechanism.

Although preferences regarding motion mechanisms vary, one motion furniture trend prevails: companies are making a concentrated effort to design motion seating that more closely resembles traditional stationary pieces. Some designers are achieving this by adding legs to motion furniture, while others are exchanging dated shapes and fabrics for sleek, modern lines and materials. Furniture manufacturers are also appealing to consumers with new levels of convenience. For example, a newly redesigned seating system by Franklin offers increased maneuverability with a removable back panel, allowing for easier delivery.

Market research suggests that retailers’ attempts to blend style, comfort, and efficiency are paying off. When asked by Impact Consulting to rate their recent motion furniture purchases on a scale of one to seven, 27.6 percent of consumers gave their products a score of seven—the highest possible rating—while 31 percent ranked their purchases a six.


This Is How Ashley Furniture Is Advancing Manufacturing

ashley furniture logoAs the owner of Ashley Furniture licensee Factory Direct Enterprises, Eugene Chrinian guides the operations of 13 Ashley Furniture Homestore locations throughout New Jersey and Metropolitan New York. In this capacity, Eugene Chrinian champions Ashley Furniture’s mission of providing customers with the best possible value, while at the same time remaining on the forefront of developments in furniture design, logistics, and manufacturing.

In recent months, Ashley Furniture has launched initiatives that, in addition to increasing its own manufacturing capabilities, have also bolstered the training resources available to manufacturers across several industries. These are a few of the many ways that Ashley Furniture has positioned itself as a leader in the highly competitive world of furniture manufacturing:

Partnership with Western Technical College

western technical college logoA new partnership between Ashley Furniture and Western Technical College will help prepare the next generation of skilled workers to use state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies. Based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Western Technical College offers more than 100 programs designed to impart modern career skills to workers in a variety of competitive industries. The school boasts extensive industry relationships and high job-placement rates, striving above all else to prepare students for successful careers. Thanks to the generosity and leadership of Ashley Furniture, Western Technical College students will now be able to develop their expertise in the state-of-the-art tools that are streamlining manufacturing across a number of sectors.

Ashley Furniture donated six Yaskawa robots and three simulated training machines to Western Technical’s new Integrated Technology Center in downtown La Crosse. In addition, Ashley donated a portable training robot to the school’s Independence, Wisconsin, campus to facilitate advanced instruction in rural environments.

To ensure that the school’s instructors are well equipped to incorporate Yaskawa’s robotic technology into their lesson plans, Ashley Furniture also provided a generous grant to fund certification courses for faculty members. Made possible by the Ron and Joyce Wanek Foundation, a philanthropic organization headed in part by Ashley Furniture’s chairman and founder, the grant will allow faculty members to update their knowledge in time for the fall 2017 semester.

The addition of Yaskawa robots and training simulators will add new depth to Western Technical College’s Electromechanical Technology Program, thereby allowing the school to expand its professional certification offerings and provide local businesses with new professional development opportunities. Combining general education, theoretical instruction, and hands-on technical training, the Electromechanical Technology Program provides a pathway for students to earn an associate of applied science and subsequently seek employment in the manufacturing sector.

Over the course of the program, students gain experience with programmable logic controls, digital and analog systems, and circuit operations, as well as computer-controlled machinery, automated systems, and numerous other prominent manufacturing technologies. With its newly expanded electromechanical technology curriculum, Western Technical College will be the only technical school in its region capable of providing certification in all levels of robotic technology.

Award-Winning Leadership

Ashley Furniture’s generous donation to Western Technical College demonstrates not only its commitment to innovation and efficiency, but also its dedication to professional development. With a mission to provide its employees with the necessary support and opportunities to shine, Ashley has succeeded at developing a thriving and inclusive workforce over the past several decades.

The Manufacturing Institute recently recognized one of Ashley Furniture’s key manufacturing leaders. In a reception held in Washington, D.C., on April 20, Ashley Furniture manager Wanda Cartrette received the Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award. Each year, the award acknowledges women who have exhibited excellent leadership within the science, technology, engineering, and production sectors of manufacturing.

The award program is just one aspect of The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead initiative, which aims to attract and support exceptional female workers in the manufacturing sector. Wanda Cartrette certainly embodies these values; after launching her manufacturing career as an assembly-line worker at Ashley Furniture in 1991, Ms. Cartrette leveraged a knack for process improvement and innovation to rise through the ranks. She now serves as the Lean Six Sigma Manager for Ashley Furniture’s upholstery operations in Wisconsin and the Corporate Idea Network Manager for every Ashley facility in America.

Responding to Trends

The leadership of experienced, dedicated individuals such as Wanda Cartrette and Eugene Chrinian allows Ashley Furniture to deftly respond to emerging market trends. One trend that is currently having a significant impact on manufacturing and supply chain needs across various sectors is e-commerce.

The Home furnishings sector is one of the fastest-growing segments of the e-commerce market, and online furniture sales growth has begun to outpace sales at brick and mortar retailers. To prepare to meet the demands of the thriving online retail sector, Ashley Furniture Industries recently broke ground on an historic expansion at its headquarters in Arcadia, Wisconsin.

Marking the largest renovation completed at the company’s Arcadia manufacturing facilities in over 45 years, the company will add 500,000 square feet of additional space, including an E-Commerce Fulfillment and Distribution Center, in order to improve its speed to market. Slated for completion by February 2018, the new center will serve as a valuable addition to Ashley’s manufacturing pipeline, allowing the company to store a greater amount of finished products for shipment across the globe.

dining room

The Dining Furniture Trends You Need to Know

The dining room has long been an integral feature of the modern American household, serving as a place to meet, entertain, or simply enjoy a meal. Over the years, the lifestyle of the average consumer has changed, noticeably affecting what is now one of the most high-traffic areas of the home. As the ideal look and function of the dining room continues to change, this is what furniture industry leaders need to know:

What’s happening in the dining room?

If you’re looking for evidence that the American lifestyle has become more casual and, at the same time, more fast-paced, look no further than the furniture sector. In recent years, consumers’ shifting preferences when it comes to furnishing their kitchens and dining areas have mirrored a fast-moving culture that demands more of our time and attention while allowing for new levels of leisure and convenience. While elaborate formal dining sets were once far more commonplace, relegating casual dining furniture to a niche retail category, Americans are now choosing to enjoy their meals in a more laidback setting.

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Recent research conducted by Impact Consulting Services clearly demonstrates this trend. The firm, which also owns Home Furnishings Business, polled a number of recent buyers on their dining habits. Of those who had recently purchased dining room furniture, 88 percent reported that they usually eat in a casual dining area, while just 12 percent were more likely to eat their meals in a formal dining room. Impact’s examination of recent furniture buying trends aligned with these personal reports: 72.8 percent of surveyed recent furniture buyers had selected casual dining furniture. Of the 27.2 percent of shoppers who did purchase pieces for a formal dining room, just 15.4 percent reported eating in the space on a daily basis, and 35.2 percent reported using the room less than a dozen times per year. Additionally, 26.2 survey respondents reported eating in their formal dining rooms on fewer than four occasions each year.

In contrast, people are spending far more time in the casual dining spaces—and not just at meal time. Today, a rising number of homes feature open-concept great rooms rather than formal dining rooms, and more open kitchen floorplans are expanding the space’s function. Regarding casual dining arrangements, 45 percent of them are located in the kitchen, while a roughly equal amount are found in a separate room. Regardless of location in the home, casual dining spaces are accommodating a wider variety of activities; the kitchen table is also a popular place to sit and talk, pay bills, do homework, or even watch TV.

What are people buying?

As the average American dining room becomes a more casual space, customers are buying fewer pieces. Expansive dining tables and floor-to-ceiling china cabinets are declining in popularity; now, small case pieces, counter-height tables, and dining tables with removable leaves are catering to more informal and versatile dining needs. Tables and chairs comprise the most popular purchases for casual furniture shoppers, while just under 4 percent of recent furniture buyers took home a sideboard, buffet, or china cabinet. And as these extra dining accoutrements seem unnecessary nowadays, other accessories are gradually becoming new staples of the modern home. For instance, in recent years, wine racks have become a highly sought-after item for millennial consumers.

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The shift to more casual dining areas is also leading consumers to place less emphasis on the cohesiveness of their dining furniture. Shoppers are now less likely to purchase full sets of matching tables and chairs, instead opting to mix and match pieces that suit their tastes. This has begun to influence design trends, prompting furniture companies to design more dining pieces with versatile designs that are easy to pair.

How have designs changed?

The dominance of the casual dining sector has opened up new possibilities in the realm of furniture design. With consumers less likely to purchase formal dining sets—or to even buy full sets at all—the industry is experiencing a shift to a more transitional aesthetic. In general, shoppers are selecting styles that offer something unique without being too eclectic; today’s casual dining rooms are noticeably modern, yet subdued enough to serve as comfortable, inviting common areas.

Dining room color palettes are moving away from darker finishes such as cherry and oak in favor of lighter tones. Gray and white are popular base colors for subdued design schemes featuring creative pops of color, often provided by modern accessories or basic kitchen tools.

Consumers’ preference for lighter colors has extended to countertops, cabinetry, backsplashes, and even appliances. These tones are helping to create a more open, airy ambience in kitchens and dining spaces, especially when paired with a diverse selection of textures and materials. Today’s casual dining spaces are likely to contain a wide variety of different mediums, finishes, and styles. This is true for both individual pieces and the room as a whole: many chair and table designs now incorporate both wood and metal elements, and an on-trend casual dining ensembles may very well feature an antique, rustic table with contemporary upholstered chairs. Other decorative touches, such as the glass of a mirror, the steel of a window frame, the brass sheen of a modern lighting fixture, or even the lush foliage of a potted plant often add further texture and diversity to today’s casual dining spaces.


This Industry Is Spurring New Growth in the Furniture Sector

The ebbs and flows of a number of industries have a significant impact on the furniture sector. Including trends in interior design, advances in logistics and, more recently, technology, a variety of forces throughout the economy frequently present new challenges and opportunities for furniture companies.

In recent years, the housing industry has been one of the most significant external factors impacting American furniture sales. After the 2007 financial crisis sent the real estate sector into a downward spiral, the market is finally showing signs of recovery. With more individuals now moving into their own spaces, furniture companies have a chance to grow exponentially.

Trending Upward

housingAlthough it has yet to reach levels seen before the recession, the US housing market is exhibiting clear signs of recovery. Other than a slight decline in 2014, sales of existing homes have gradually risen in recent years, increasing 3.8 percent from 2015 to 2016. The 5.49 million homes sold in 2016 nearly reached the peak established in 2007, when 5.65 million existing homes were sold.

There has also been a gradual increase in the construction of new, single-family homes. Although the 559,000 new houses sold in 2016 were still 27.8 percent lower than the 2007 peak of 769,000, new home sales have increased by an impressive 82.7 percent since 2011.

The only housing market metric to exhibit a marked decline in recent years has been the construction of new multifamily buildings. But while the construction of new multiunit complexes decreased by 13 percent in 2016, the construction of single-family homes grew by 7.5 percent, and is expected to grow by 8.1 percent in 2017.

All of these factors have resulted in the lowest rates of rental unit and home vacancies in three decades. Rental vacancy rates fell to 6.9 percent in 2016, with the tightest housing crunches felt in metropolitan areas and their surrounding suburbs.

What This Means for the Furniture Sector

homeHousing growth is a natural boon for the furniture industry, as the move to a new home or apartment is one of the most common motivators behind a new furniture purchase. In the US, the furniture industry is growing at a faster pace than the broader economy. The US furniture market was valued at $96.4 billion in 2014—and it is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.9 percent through 2019.

As millennials begin to establish their careers and move out on their own, they have become the largest segment of the furniture-buying population, overtaking baby boomers. While millennials made up just 14 percent of furniture sales in 2012, spending approximately $11.1 billion, this number more than doubled to comprise $27 billion in furniture sales in 2014.

With millennials driving growth in the housing market and, therefore, in the furniture sector, furniture companies must consider their unique needs and tastes to make the most of their purchasing power. Furniture designers and retailers can benefit from catering to the millennial desire for personalization, as well as their eagerness to engage with socially conscious and sustainable organizations.

Of course, technology also plays a significant role in the lives of not only millennials, but people of all ages. To cater to a new era of home renters and buyers, furniture companies must provide a convenient, secure, and engaging e-commerce experience—online sales are expected to contribute 30 percent of all furniture business in 2018, up from 21 percent just four years prior.

Furniture companies must also consider the ever-growing role of technology in their designs. Furniture equipped with wire management systems, charger ports, and other tech accommodations can blend seamlessly into a digital lifestyle, while a rise in telecommuting has driven demand for home office furniture outfitted for tech-heavy workstations.

The Matter of Mobility

While home purchases and rentals are on the rise, it is worth noting that mobility is at an all-time low. The percentage of Americans moving to new homes has steadily declined since the 1950s, falling by nearly 50 percent. As moving is a major life event that frequently leads to furniture purchases, companies must take a closer look at the people who are still moving, in order to successfully market to them.

At present, the Americans moving most often are typically non-married renters younger than 35. The younger the individual, the more likely they are to move: twice as many 20- to 24-year-olds (23 percent) and 25- to 34-year-olds (20.1 percent) moved in 2016 compared to individuals in the 35 to 44 age range. Additionally, less than 4 percent of adults older than 55 moved into a new house or apartment.

Americans who move more often also tend to earn less money. This suggests that affordability may be an important factor for furniture companies to consider when seeking to cater to customers in 2017.

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3 Recent Regulatory Updates That You Need to Know About

Though business leaders in the home furnishings sector must keep a watchful eye on ever-changing aesthetic trends, consumer tastes are not the only factor influencing furniture design and supply chain decisions. In order to keep their operations efficient and compliant, furniture companies must stay abreast of evolving regulations governing the sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, and sale of their products.

New laws and federal agency rules are constantly creating new challenges and considerations for furniture firms. The following are some of the most recent regulatory developments impacting the United States furniture industry:

  1. The New EPA Rule on Formaldehyde Emissions

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a new rule aimed at limiting the health risk posed by formaldehyde in consumer products. Certain items made of composite wood, such as furniture, cabinets, and flooring, can emit levels of formaldehyde that may be harmful to both humans and animals in the home. Sustained exposure to this colorless, odiferous, and highly flammable gas can cause health complications related to the eyes, nose, and throat, including conditions as serious as cancer. For this reason, the EPA’s new rule establishes stringent formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products sold in the United States, setting up one of the world’s strictest regulatory frameworks governing formaldehyde content.

In December 2016, the EPA issued the final draft of its formaldehyde emissions standards. The newly finalized rule outlines guidelines for compliance with the 2010 Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which comprises Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act. It applies to both imported and domestically produced composite wood products, including hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard, as well as finished products containing these materials.

The final version of the EPA’s formaldehyde rule is extremely similar to the pre-publication draft released by the agency in July 2016. It sets forth requirements for product testing, labeling, and the management of records such as chain of custody documents, in addition to setting up a third-party certification program and establishing standards for the accreditation of these certifying bodies.

The final rule also provides specific limits for the formaldehyde emissions of certain composite wood products. It caps hardwood plywood emissions at .05 parts per million (ppm) and limits particleboard to .09 ppm, while medium-density fiberboard and thin medium-density fiberboard may contain .11 ppm and .13 ppm, respectively. These standards may be familiar to some furniture industry professionals, as they largely mirror the formaldehyde emissions guidelines upheld by the California Air Resources Board between 2009 and 2012.

The EPA’s formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products are the result of significant research, deliberation, and industry collaboration. An initial draft of the rule proposed in 2013 met significant industry resistance due to what many companies deemed excessive testing requirements. After drawing on the feedback of industry members to develop more mutually acceptable guidelines, the EPA released its final rule, with an intended effective date of February 10, 2017. However, a mandatory regulatory freeze enacted by the incoming presidential administration in January 2017 extended this date by several weeks on two separate occasions, ultimately pushing it back to May 22, 2017.

Furniture industry suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers who still need to familiarize themselves with these new regulations may review them here.

  1. Department of the Interior Regulations Requiring Sustainable Rosewood Imports

Rosewood is a popular material often used to give an elegant flair to the exterior of higher-end furnishings such as tabletops, headboards, and drawer fronts. However, the irresponsible sourcing of rosewood can have dire consequences for the ecosystems where rosewood thrives.

On Janury 2, 2017, the US Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service formalized a rule that will ensure the legal, environmentally responsible sourcing of rosewood. The new regulation applies to nearly 300 major species of rosewood within the genus Dalbergia, as well as kosso (also known as African rosewood), East Indian rosewood, cocobolo, and Honduran rosewood.

It requires companies to obtain permits proving that their rosewood suppliers are harvesting the material legally and sustainability, and with no phase-in period, the regulation has required furniture companies to promptly assess their supply chains for compliance. Following the issuance of the new rule, many firms found themselves conducting audits of shipments currently in route to avoid issues at customs.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s new rosewood regulation falls under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty designed to ensure that business practices do not endanger natural habitats or the species that they host. Ratified by 182 nations since its establishment in 1975, CITES currently defends over 35,000 plant and animal species.

  1. Impending Duties on Chinese Plywood Imports

Mounting concern over unfair international trade practices could lead some furniture companies to reexamine their supply chains. In November 2016, a group of 12 American hardwood plywood manufactures, collectively operating as the

Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood, filed a petition alleging that unfair pricing practices by Chinese suppliers have led to layoffs and financial losses throughout their sector. To remedy this, the petition specifically requested that the government levy new countervailing duties on Chinese plywood imports, which would account for alleged subsidization provided to Chinese firms by the nation’s government, as well as anti-dumping duties, which would address concerns that suppliers have imported materials to US manufacturers at prices far below the cost of raw materials.

After several months of deliberation, the US Department of Commerce recently announced countervailing duties of up to 111.09% for 61 Chinese board producers. Going forward, the department may establish additional anti-dumping duties, as well as duties to address the financial damages sustained by the petitioners.

It is important to note that these duties do and will not apply to finished products imported from China. Rather, they apply only to panels imported for the construction of furniture within the United States, excluding all structural panels intended for use in ready-to-assemble furniture. While industry experts allege that these duties should have no immediate significant impact on American furniture companies, they may very well lead American furniture and cabinet companies to reassess the cost efficiency of their supply chains.