Purchasing

Here Are the Top Trends from the Most Recent High Point Market

High Point MarketThe most recent Fall High Point Market wrapped up on October 18, 2017, closing out five days of collection debuts, style presentations, networking events, and several other exciting opportunities for the home furnishings industry. This year, over 80,000 people visited the International Market Center in High Point, North Carolina, to survey the emerging products and styles that are taking the industry by storm. With the highly anticipated event now behind us, it’s time to take a moment to summarize the trends that dominated the Fall 2017 High Point Market.

Shapes

Several showrooms featured pieces with unique forms and profiles. These furnishings represented new takes on traditional styles and offered shoppers a fresh way to breathe life into the home’s major living spaces. Showcased products included many sectional sofas that deviated from the traditional L-shaped form. To change things up, brands including Christopher Guy, Lee, and Highland House presented sectionals with more gradual curves, sloping backs, and finer geometric angles. Some pieces, such as the Epidote sofa designed by Jean-Louis Deniot for Baker, featured an in-the-round shape, offering a unique focal point sure to facilitate conversation in any living room.

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Market attendees surveying the trends in dining furniture were likely to notice an influx of elongated, oval dining tables. While round and rectangular pieces have prevailed in recent years, oval tables are now adding interest to both casual and formal dining areas. Some, such as Hickory Chair’s table with ornate wood inlays, would be right at home in a traditional formal dining area. Others, such as Made Goods’ table featuring a smooth concrete surface atop light wood legs, convey a more laidback, modern aesthetic.

Colors

AkzoNobel, a trusted resource for furniture coatings, took on the lofty responsibility of presenting the official color of 2018. The firm selected “Heartwood,” a soft pink shade frequently seen in both apparel and home décor in recent years, as the hue that will dominate the home furnishings sector in the coming months. The color’s name refers to the dense center portion of a tree, which often shares the same hue.

In addition to Heartwood’s soft, warm shade, several showrooms at the High Point Market featured color schemes that revolved around complementary and near-complementary tones. Combinations of blue and orange, green and violent, and cream and brown dominated several product sectors, adorning everything from throw pillows to light fixtures. These unique color combinations offer consumers and designers an opportunity to add youthful energy to any room, in the form of vibrant and electric patterns.

Materials

Two very different materials have recently achieved growing popularity among furniture retailers and designers. The first, shearling, appeared in the form of upholstered chairs, stools, and ottomans from brands including Nathan Anthony, Mary McDonald at Chaddock, and Hancock & Moore. The plush white material is capable of adding either a modern flair or cozy vintage appeal to a room, depending on the lines and other materials incorporated into the piece.

home

Concrete was also a common staple throughout High Point showrooms. The material frequently appeared, perhaps unexpectedly, in light fixtures, providing ample opportunities for dramatic contrast. Popular pieces blended the smooth, stark appearance of stone with soft lighting, graceful lights, and even plants, in the case of a combination table lamp and planter designed by Currey & Company. Going forward, shoppers should expect to see plenty of hanging pendant lights, table lamps, and additional light fixtures adding a modern pop of texture to rooms throughout the home.

Styles

A few noteworthy aesthetic styles appeared across a number of different showrooms. Many brands showcased a thoughtful blend of historic and modern styles by allowing wood tones such as cherry and mahogany to dominate their designs, placing the focus on the beauty of the materials themselves by allowing distressed details to shine through. Many designers took this tendency toward natural materials a bit farther, featuring weathered, organic, and handcrafted pieces that convey beauty through their imperfections.

Contrasting with this shift toward natural and artisan styles, several furniture designers highlighted the emerging interest in modern Scandinavian furnishings, which provide a light and airy appeal with clean lines and brighter wood tones. Furniture bathed in pearl and metallic finishes, frequently paired with stark angles, mixed materials, and accents of gold and silver, also filled showrooms.

High Point Market’s Trend Watch program, which offers an annual overview of the styles to pay attention to at each upcoming market, also noted a growing interest in dramatic curation. Increasingly, home décor selections suggest a desire for personal expression, whether on the part of designers or home owners. Innovative and eye-catching light fixtures, chairs, tabletop decorations, wall hangings, and other pieces are providing opportunities for consumers to make their home truly their own. Reflecting this trend, interior design schemes are featuring less emphasis on cohesiveness and instead showcasing unique pieces that, while complementary, offer a vibrancy all their own.

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furniture

7 Signs That It’s Time for New Furniture

While high-quality furniture is built to last several years, even the best-made pieces will eventually begin to show signs of age and wear. But when is the right time to buy new furniture? While it can be easy to get caught up in the latest trends, savvy furniture shoppers must balance an interest in emerging styles with the limitations of their budgets—not to mention the physical limits of their homes. The following are some signs that it’s definitely time to invest in new home furniture:

  1. Your furniture is uncomfortable.

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If your upholstered furniture or bed is beginning to sag, has developed lumps, or is otherwise uncomfortable, it’s time to replace it. Over time, the weight of continuous use can wear on a couch’s structural foundation, causing the frame and cushions to become less supportive. In addition to being uncomfortable and unattractive, sagging furniture can also have a negative impact on your posture. If you find yourself sinking into your couch a little more than you’d like, it may be time to consider how long you’ve owned it. Sofas last an average of 7 to 15 years. Mattresses, on the other hand, should be replaced every 8 to 10 years in order to ensure you’re getting a comfortable, restful, and healthy night of sleep.

  1. You’re buying new electronics.

Whether you’re investing in a new stereo system, a bigger flat screen TV, or the latest gaming console, you’re going to need somewhere to put it. As one of our main forms of entertainment, technology often serves as the focal point of the living room. Ensuring that your home furnishings are equipped to accommodate your new electronics will help you enjoy them to the fullest. You might consider purchasing a new media stand to elevate your TV to the ideal viewing height, new shelving units to hold speakers or gaming consoles, furniture with cord management systems, or gaming chairs specifically designed to help you play in comfort and style.

  1. You’ve noticed excessive damage, odors, or stains.

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Life happens, and over time, furniture begins to show signs of its age. Countless guests, moves, bumps, and spills—not to mention the enthusiasm of pets and children—can leave even the sturdiest of pieces looking tired and worn. Moreover, upholstered furniture can begin to take on odors after years of use. While you may be able to clean stains on upholstered furniture and mend minor tears, some damage is too extensive to be fixed, and completely renovating a piece of furniture can be expensive. If your favorite sofa is frayed, your arm chair is covered in cracked leather, or your dining table bears battle scars in the form of nicks, scratches, and burns, consider replacing these pieces with something less thoroughly used.

  1. It doesn’t work.

If a piece of furniture no longer fulfills its original function, it’s definitely time to replace it. Although it’s easy to get attached to a particular piece, once it begins damaged or unstable, it is rarely worth keeping around. Furniture that is no longer fully functional, such as a wobbly chair or a dresser with drawers that won’t open correctly, can not only make your home more frustrating to navigate, but may also be hazardous as well.

  1. The room feels crowded.

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While it may seem counterproductive at first, buying new furniture can often help you conserve space and organize your home in a more efficient way. Perhaps you might replace your current table and chairs with a dining set that better suits the size of your apartment, or purchase an entertainment stand that allows you to replace multiple bookcases or shelving units. New furniture can do a great deal to declutter a home office, where good organization can often transform the entire feel of the room.

  1. It’s outdated.

While it’s generally a good idea to get the most out of your furniture’s lifecycle, it’s sometimes difficult to deny that a piece is completely out of style. It’s important to furnish your home in a way that makes you feel happy and comfortable, and for this reason, furniture that has become unsightly with age is a valid candidate for replacement. Whether the culprit is excessively faded fabric or a pattern that’s a bit too reminiscent of a bygone era, consider upgrading the pieces that are beginning to show their age.

  1. You’re buying a new home or renovating.

Whether you’re moving into a new house or simply trying out a new wall color, visual changes in your living space are a great reason to buy new furniture. Purchasing new furniture can help you feel settled in a new space and begin the process of tying the room together. In addition, some pieces of furniture may not mesh well with the aesthetics of a new space, while others may not physically fit within a new or freshly organized room.

When replacing your furniture, don’t forget that there are a number of options for disposing of your previously loved pieces. Rather than simply throwing away that beloved old table or chair, consider donating it, selling it, or upcycling part or all of it to serve a different purpose in your home.

furniture

3 of the Best Strategies for Marketing to Furniture Shoppers

Due to the rise in e-commerce and the expanding role of millennial consumers, customer expectations are evolving in the home furnishings sector. Furniture shoppers are embarking on a more complicated journey that encompasses both the online and in-store shopping experience.

As a result, they are approaching their purchasing decisions with more knowledge than ever before. While furniture showrooms and sales pitches are playing a lesser role in the overall furniture-buying process, there is still a great deal that retailers can do to attract customers, exceed their expectations, and engender loyalty. Here are a few key strategies for marketing to furniture shoppers in the 21st century.

  1. Consider Emotional Intelligence

Klarna logoConsumers’ feelings and habits have always had a significant influence on their purchasing decisions, as well as retailers’ marketing efforts. However, the growing popularity of online shopping has made emotion an even greater determinant of consumer behavior. This is particularly true among millennial furniture buyers, as evidenced by recent market research conducted by Klarna UK. In examining the shopping habits of individuals ages 16 to 34, the firm found that shoppers in this demographic are far more likely than older generations to base their buying decisions on emotions experienced during the e-commerce process.

Both positive and negative emotions can influence a consumer’s decision to buy new furniture online. For example, Klarna also found that, in comparison with other age groups, millennials are five times more likely to feel anxious or guilty about how a purchase will impact their financial situation. Moreover, one in five survey respondents recall changing their mind about a purchase in response to these fears.

On the other hand, young adults shopping for furniture are also more likely to feel excited while adding potential purchases to their digital shopping carts. However, furniture retailers should not assume that an item in a shopper’s cart is a guaranteed sale. A large portion of shoppers, particularly those in the millennial generation, use their online shopping baskets to compare costs and create virtual “wish lists,” with many saving items that they have no intention of buying.

How can furniture retailers convince shoppers to finalize their prospective purchases? In many cases, a sense of urgency can convince consumers to take the plunge. More than half of millennials are more likely to buy an item to avoid missing out on a temporary special offer, indicating that retailers shouldn’t undercut the value of a good sales promotion.

By understanding how feelings such as impulsiveness, anxiety, and impatience can impact consumers’ thought processes, furniture retailers are able to provide more intuitive customer service. For example, in order to address the anxiety that some shoppers feel about making an expensive purchase, companies might promote deferred payment options to make their products more appealing. A retailer might also introduce a “try before you buy” program to reduce the risk of buyers’ remorse. By catering to customers’ emotions in such a way, companies will not only increase the likelihood of a sale, but also engender lasting loyalty among consumers who feel that the companies they frequent have their best interests in mind.

  1. Maximize Your Digital Space

If recent research on consumer emotions in the furniture sector suggests one thing, it would be that it is no longer sufficient to simply offer an e-commerce platform. Retailers must carefully consider each step of the customer journey and, in crafting their digital presence, examine how it will contribute to the overall customer journey.

Today, most shoppers begin the search for a new piece of furniture online. While a consumer’s first visit to your website probably won’t result in a sale, it is a crucial step in the customer journey as it provides shoppers with an introduction to your brand. Your website is often a consumer’s first opportunity to learn about your products, decide which brands and features appeal to them, and compare your prices, offerings, and level of service to other players in the market. With this in mind, you should prioritize the development of an engaging, informative landing page or online catalogue that provides a clear introduction to your brand. Your company website should clearly communicate what sets you apart from the competition, including delivery and consumer finance options that provide added value to customers.

ecommerce

The checkout process offers an ideal opportunity for online furniture retailers to improve customers’ digital journey. Currently, it is one of the primary pain points causing difficulties for shoppers, who can become irritated by clunky and unintuitive processes. In one survey, one out of four millennials reported experiencing frustration with checkout processes that do not save their payment details.

In considering the online customer experience, retailers should also consider how shoppers are accessing their websites. Smartphones are gradually gaining on laptop and desktop computers as the most popular tools for online shopping, and furniture companies should ensure that their e-commerce platforms are fine-tuned for mobile devices in order to avoid missing out on business from smartphone shoppers.

  1. Optimize the In-Store Experience

Despite the rise in e-commerce, consumers are still more likely to purchase furniture at a physical location. They are also likely to compare their options at multiple stores before making a final decision. Therefore, it is crucial that furniture companies prioritize both their digital and brick and mortar channels, striving to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Just as your e-commerce platform should provide a variety of information to prepare shoppers to make educated decisions while in a store, the in-store experience should reflect assumptions of variety, quality, and personalized customer service created by your online presence.

One way to accomplish this is to integrate your retail management system with your e-commerce platform, ensuring that all pricing and inventory information is accurate for both in-store and online shoppers. Furniture business leaders should also consider the amount of research conducted by today’s highly informed, digitally empowered consumers when training their sales staff. As shoppers increasingly enter stores with a broad understanding of a company’s offerings and policies, it is more important than ever that sales representatives offer insights that go beyond basic product information in order to help customers find a great value that suits their needs.

bed

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

couch

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.

furniture

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.

furniture

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.

furniture

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.

ecommerce

3 of the Best Ways to Create a Sustainable E-Commerce Strategy

Technology and sustainability are currently two of the most significant factors driving furniture industry trends. Now more than ever, consumers desire a retail experience that is convenient, intuitive, and as close to instantaneous as possible.

At the same time, however, they seek the assurance that the companies they support are having a positive impact on the world. In fact, a recent Nielsen study involving participants from 60 countries found that 55 percent of consumers would be willing to pay a higher price for a product or service from a company with a commitment to environmental stewardship.

ecommerce

The world of e-commerce is growing rapidly. At $97.3 million, total US online retail sales in the second quarter of 2016 alone were up 15.8 percent from the year prior. This rapid e-commerce growth has extended to the furniture industry, where some 15 percent of all 2015 sales took place online.

The logistical and technological resources necessary to create an engaging e-commerce platform can easily increase a company’s carbon footprint. The following are strategies furniture companies – and firms across every sector – can utilize to weave environmental consciousness into the fabric of their e-commerce strategies.

Tip #1: Consider Energy Efficient Web Hosting and Design

The amount of energy required to load a web page can vary based on its design and server needs. Websites that include a limited amount of resource-draining applications – such as Flash videos or JavaScript widgets – require less processing power to load and are therefore more energy efficient.

Companies can also make their retail websites more sustainable by using images as efficiently as possible. While high-quality pictures are a necessity in a retail sector such as home furnishings, firms should consider using lower-resolution photos on search result pages in order to conserve processing power.

Other web design adjustments that can increase the load speed of a website and decrease its energy requirements include the use of browser caching and the use of printer-friendly page options. The color of a retailer’s website can even impact its energy efficiency. Because bold or dark colors require more energy to load, simple page layouts with a large amount of white space will yield faster page load times.

Tip #2: Develop Sustainable Packing and Logistics Strategies

Shipping is a key strategic consideration for any online retailer, but for a furniture company, logistics can pose significant challenges and opportunities. Tasked with delivering cumbersome and often-fragile items in a safe and timely manner, furniture companies must take extra care to craft efficient and sustainable logistics strategies.

They can begin with packaging. Inefficient packaging not only requires a greater amount of energy to transport, but can also create excessive pollution. Furniture companies should strive to improve their logistics sustainably by developing packaging that uses eco-friendly materials, such as responsibly-sourced cardboard that is Cradle to Cradle or Forestry Stewardship Council certified. Companies should avoid using Styrofoam, which is not biodegradable, and instead seek alternative, sustainable filling materials.

shipping box

In designing their packaging, furniture retailers should aim for efficient boxes that are as streamlined as possible. In addition to reducing the cost of packaging materials and allowing for more efficient shipping, this can also help increase a company’s speed to market, offering new value to consumers.

Another simple way to improve the sustainability of furniture shipping practices is to reduce the amount of paperwork included in the box. Retailers should use electronic invoices whenever possible and consider allowing customers to opt to receive warranty information and instruction manuals online.

Furniture companies can gain an advantage in pursuing their sustainability goals by partnering with a logistics service provider. Certain providers with a commitment to green operations may offer payment options to help offset a retailer’s carbon footprint, and logistics firms can also provide data analysis tools to assess a company’s environmental efficiency.

In addition, online furniture retailers must ensure that their reverse supply chain is just as efficient as their initial delivery strategy. Because online purchases often carry an increased likelihood of returns, it is important to develop environmentally sustainable methods of facilitating product returns, repairs, and replacements. This is a boon not only for the environment, but also for a company’s customer service and brand image.

Tip #3: Harness Customer Engagement

By involving consumers in their sustainability initiatives, furniture retailers can have a positive environmental impact that extends far beyond their own operations. One potential strategy is to offer sustainability-minded incentives, such as donations to ecological organizations or pledges to offset carbon emissions, to new social media or website subscribers.

As furniture retailers develop online brand images that complement their e-commerce offerings, they can use social media platforms to encourage a greener lifestyle. For example, a company may launch a blog wherein they offer not only furniture design trend news, but also easy tips for sustainable living.

Online furniture retailers seeking to improve their sustainability initiatives might also find that they can accomplish this by involving customers in their logistics processes. Services such as UPS My Choice or UPS Access Point allow consumers to update and personalize their delivery times and locations. This may decrease the inconvenience, financial cost, and environmental burden posed by missed deliveries and repeated delivery attempts.

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.

Technology

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.

e-commerce

How to Create the Best Online Shopping Experience

In recent years, e-commerce has accounted for a rapidly-growing percentage of furniture sales. While sales at brick and mortar stores rose 13.8 percent between 2009 and 2015, online sales increased by an astonishing 168 percent.

Even so, the online furniture sector makes up little more than 5 percent of total e-commerce sales, and Furniture Today recently found that 70 percent of furniture companies have not yet launched meaningful e-commerce efforts. A plethora of growth opportunities await furniture retailers that make the most of e-commerce sales.

Here are a few ways that companies can optimize their websites:

  1. Present a Value Proposition

A value proposition conveys to consumers exactly what a company is selling, how the product will serve them, and why shoppers should choose it over competing alternatives. It is especially important for furniture retailers to promote their products with a clear, strong value proposition in the world of e-commerce, where shoppers need only hit the back button on their web browsers to explore other options.

online shopping

Businesses create online value propositions with the words and images they choose to include on their websites. Ideally, a customer visiting an online furniture retailer would encounter bold, concise statements and images that offer a clear idea of the style, price point, and variety of products that the company sells.

Retailers also offer value propositions through the individual descriptions of products listed on their websites. In writing these descriptions, furniture professionals should strive to include only the most relevant information, carefully considering the kinds of details that customers are actually seeking before making a purchase.

  1. Make the Most of Images

Product pictures play an integral role in most online shopping experiences. Consumers generally prefer to see what they’re buying, and this is especially true when they are purchasing items to furnish their homes. Therefore, it is important for furniture retailers to consider more than the mere inclusion of images on their websites. Rather, they must think carefully about the size, location, and quality of the pictures that they present.

A case study conducted by Visual Website Optimizer demonstrated that brands can improve their conversion rates by increasing the size of the images on their e-commerce platforms. In a separate experiment, a retailer increased search bar conversions by 100 percent by adding drop-down images to the search function. This demonstrates that, by envisioning how images fit into the overall online customer journey, furniture retailers can use product images to create a stronger value proposition and increase the likelihood of online sales.

Furniture retailers should also ensure that their product images are of a high enough quality to accurately convey the colors, textures, and other unique features of their pieces. Additionally, providing pictures of furniture in use or as a part of a larger room ensemble can serve to provide a more robust value proposition and spark the imaginations of potential customers.

  1. Create a Personalized User Experience

In the era of e-commerce, consumers are accustomed to quick, convenient, and customized service. By meeting and even exceeding customers’ expectations for a personalized and innovative online shopping experience, furniture retailers can keep up with the competition and encourage shoppers to return to their websites time and time again.

Automated website features that save lists of viewed products, offer personalized suggestions, and otherwise fine-tune the shopping experience for each individual consumer can greatly enhance retail websites. Furniture companies may also consider personalizing their online retail experiences based on geography.

Companies with multiple locations can include features to automatically display the contact information of the stores nearest to website visitors. Options that allow shoppers check the product inventory at local stores can add further value to the omni-channel shopping experience

  1. Take Advantage of Data Analytics

E-commerce provides robust information on customers and their shopping habits. This allows companies to create products and promotional strategies that better meet consumers’ needs and preferences. It is important for furniture companies to closely track website traffic and conversion data, including the amount of time shoppers are spending on specific pages, which links are attracting the most attention, and the website features most and least likely to convert clicks to sales.

online business

Businesses should consistently strive to improve their online experiences, frequently testing how design enhancements impact website conversion and investigating customers’ buying habits. They may then leverage these insights to improve customer engagement and encourage further sales through more intuitive marketing efforts.

For example, a furniture company’s sales data might indicate that shoppers who purchase beds are extremely likely to buy other items for their bedrooms. Rather than squandering a promotional opportunity by continuing to advertise beds to these consumers, the company might choose to adjust its targeted advertising strategies to display promotions for dressers, lamps, night stands, and other bedroom décor.

  1. Adopt a Consistent Design Strategy

Being aware of a few simple design principles can help furniture business leaders create a more aesthetically-pleasing and engaging e-commerce platform. The presence of a clear visual hierarchy – a color palette used to differentiate different website elements – will make it far easier for customers to navigate the website while drawing their attention to its most important aspects. A visual hierarchy should include colors for the website background, base text, and accent text. In this way, companies can use color accents to draw attention to calls to action and hyperlinks.

When developing an e-commerce platform, furniture leaders should also remember Fitt’s law, which states that larger items are more likely to catch the eye and attract clicks. Companies should ensure that the most vital information on their websites contrasts with the rest of the page in both size and color. At the same time, they should tone down the appearance of words and images that are irrelevant to consumers or do not help to generate sales.