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Canadian Upholstery: Keeping up appearancesMonday, December 01, 2014 > 09:37:39
(Home Goods Online)
It's no secret the world has gotten smaller. There was a time when the consumer could only guess at what was happening in the furniture showrooms of Milan and Paris. If that consumer was on a tight budget, she would simply have to accept whatever neutral-toned sofa or bed was available at the nearest big box store.
Then about 15 years ago, things began to change. Shoppers could see what was happening in Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Tokyo and Toronto with the click of a mouse. People living in Halifax could see a photo spread of a picturesque French country kitchen and decide to recreate the look.
Much like clothing, upholstery is something consumers of all stripes are realizing they can have fun with. Fortunately, for them, there are a host of Canadian manufacturers, designers and retailers who are more than up to the challenge of meeting those expectations, staying on top of trends and capitalizing on what will be the next big thing.
"I'm seeing chevrons in flooring, tiles and backsplashes," says Diana Sisto, creative director for Brentwood Classics, the Vaughan, Ontario-based custom upholstery house. "It's a look that always been popular in Europe or in a French pied-à-terre. I'm also seeing a lot of herring bone patterns and subway tiles applied in a brick or chevron pattern in upholstery."
In terms of what's hot right now, Sisto believes there's been a shift towards chic, luxurious looks, textures and fabrics.
"Textures are coming back," she says. "The last two years the trend was flat, dry looks and textures. Now, fine chenille fabrics are coming back because people are looking for more dimension. I'm seeing a lot of upholstered beds, as they're cheaper and they soften the space."
Sisto has also noticed the consumer gravitating to fine, soft look - a stark contrast to the fledgling era of the sleek industrial look that was high tech, chrome-inspired and minimalist. The shift, she thinks, might have to do with a slow recovery from a shaky economic period by investing in well-made, functional pieces built to stand the test of time. It might also be prompting her to spend a little less anxiously on elegant pieces that will "fluff up their space."
While it's impossible to say any particular look will be universally popular (it won't), it is easier to pinpoint what looks are selling relatively well across the board. Sisto, like several other industry insiders, has noticed the consumer's recent fascination with the colour grey (although, she says, there have been indications people are falling back into beiges and "greyges"), smaller scale furniture and mixing instead of matching. She also says some consumers still like big pieces - such as Brentwood's Gene deep seat sofa - and more traditional neutrals.
Normand Couture, the founder of Normand Couture Designs and the designer behind Palliser Furniture's brand new Pinnacle collection, says while there are still people who gravitate to certain looks, some trends are certainly apparent.
"I think some trends are international," says Couture, who has won more awards for his work than any other practising Canadian furniture designer. "In garden furniture, everything is resort-style. Whether the pieces are high, medium or lower-end, it's all old resort-style and it's not only wealthy people doing outdoor kitchens."