The High Points of Design

Anticipation Builds for the High Point Market's New Colors and Trends


The High Point Market, in High Point, North Carolina, is all about forecasting what’s next in design and color. Not only will you find miles of showrooms that display the latest styles in furniture, but you’ll also have the chance to hear from industry experts about what trends you can expect to see in 2017. One of the CEU workshops we are most anticipating is Captivate, Pratt & Lambert® Paints 2017 Color Forecast. Led by Carolyn Noble, Pratt & Lambert color marketing and design manager, "Captivate" reveals four new color stories that will drive design trends in the coming year. Captivate will take place at 1 p.m., on Oct. 23, in the always colorful Surya showroom.

Carolyn Noble
Hear Pratt & Lambert’s Carolyn Noble speak about color trends for 2017 at 1 p.m., on Oct. 23, in the Surya showroom.

For a preview of other trends you can expect to discover at the High Point Market, check out what market veteran Kathy Andersson is most looking forward to:

I’ve always been fond of fall in the Triad region of North Carolina, and not just because of the bold reds and vibrant oranges that hang from the towering poplars on chilly mornings. No, it’s more of an excited feeling—like the hours before a first date or the moment right before you take the talent-show stage. It’s the feeling I experience every fall as I travel to the High Point Market and I hear the sound of forklifts and box cutters and paint rollers, all in preparation for the trade show that has reigned over the furniture industry for the past 107 years.

Every year at the High Point Market, more than 2,000 craftspeople and companies spread out over 10 million square feet to showcase their latest products. During the weeks of the biannual show, almost 100,000 furniture lovers and curiosity seekers from more than 100 countries pass through the 180 buildings that make up the market.

This is my 23rd market, but every year I anticipate it as though it were my first. I can still remember the days when I had to rely on simple sketches—a throwback to my design-school days—just to get the first glimpse of the new collections before the show opened. Nowadays it’s so easy to just go online and peruse product reviews well before the show. But take it from a seasoned marketgoer like me: High Point is about so much more than just the furniture. To me, the market is all about personal connections—meeting the designers and artists and learning their stories, as well as connecting with old friends in the industry, while hopefully making a few new connections along the way.

French Heritage
Photo courtesy of French Heritage. Products shown (left–right): Jacqueline Chest and Bizet Chest.

Especially in the days of e-commerce, there is no substitute for being physically present in High Point’s incredibly curated and styled environment. I’ve had a long career in color marketing, but the most efficient way for me to spot which colors are trending is to walk around in the showrooms and see firsthand what colors pop. This is an emotional response generated by seeing a product up close, and this response is often unconscious. Sure, I might recognize certain visual clues that spark my instinctive sense of taste and trends, but the ingenuity behind truly great designers and craftspeople is in choosing silhouettes, textiles, and hardware that magically transform an ordinary product into one that is drool-worthy.

One of my treasured premarket activities—other than selecting my market outfit—is reflecting on what has changed in the past 20-plus years. Which colors and patterns have been recycled? Which colors and patterns have been revived? Are there actually colors, materials, and finishes that really are revolutionary?

Back in 1993, the year I first attended the High Point Market, natural colors and materials were very much in vogue. Also “in” that year were whimsical colors and patterns. I’ve spotted new versions of those same trends, as well as a few other retro trends. Below is a sneak peek of four designers whose new collections highlight both emerging and reemerging trends.

Back to Nature

For years, Lynne and Khrys McArdle of Alden Parkes have specialized in handcrafted wood furniture, and always with a focus on quality materials. As proof of how well they have executed this vision, Alden Parkes hosted a ribbon-cutting at the Spring 2016 High Point Market to celebrate the debut of its enlarged market showroom. This fall, that additional space will be utilized with new pieces that feature a trend worth noting: the return to natural colors and materials.

Alden Parkes
Photos courtesy of Alden Parkes. Products shown (left–right): Lesley Buffet and Oceana Nightstand.

Alden Parkes’ new Oceana Nightstand is an exemplar of the natural trend. With its rich, quarter-cut walnut veneers, the chest combines aesthetics and utility. The piece’s elegant hardware, including the champagne leaf finish, mimics the motion of an ocean wave. Incorporating natural elements—the walnut, the wave—is nothing new, but the Oceana Nightstand makes the trend feel fresh and contemporary. This piece promises to attract both designers and consumers like bees to honey.

Alden Parkes maintains the back-to-nature theme with its Lesley Buffet. The Lesley Buffet exemplifies midcentury styling with its soft gray tones that are framed in brass with a slight patina. In another nod to nature, its playful yet sophisticated patterns are achieved by wrapping the entire piece in vellum—in this case, goatskin. As a new generation begins to have children and then heads to the suburbs in search of more space, suburbia itself is being revamped. Many in this new generation have probably never had a use for proper dining-room furniture, but with all that extra space, the dining room is now experiencing a renaissance. The Lesley Buffet would be a centerpiece of this new generation of dining rooms.

A Whimsical Side

The new collection by Joanie Design applies a contemporary take on a familiar but always crowd-pleasing trend: whimsy. This will be the second market for Joanie Design, a furniture company out of the Phoenix area that builds most of its collection right here in the USA. It received Best Booth Award in the Home Decor category at the Spring 2016 High Point Market, which is a testament to the company refreshing its product line. Joanie Design’s calling card is its use of vibrant color combined with quality materials that produces just the right amount of fuss. As we all know, a bit of whimsy can be welcome relief at a time when American consumers are eager to hear a brighter, more positive 2017. Owner Joan Hintz presented the issue so clearly when she told me, “Keeping everybody happy is not about beige.”

Joanie Design
Photos courtesy of Joanie Design. Products shown (left–right): Carlee Chair in first photo; Barbara Lounge Chair and Hazel Chair in second photo.

This whimsy is manifested in the Carlee Chair, which features acrylic legs and a two-tone fabric design. The Carlee Chair’s spicy olive is new for this fall’s market, and Joanie Design will be overwhelmed with orders for this color—it’s fresh, it blends well with neutrals, but it also complements the brilliant aquas and fuchsias in the full textile lineup. Any green is classic, but this shade in particular renews and cleanses our souls.

Joanie Design continues its whimsical approach with the Barbara Lounge Chair, as well as its Hazel Chair. The Barbara Lounge Chair features light-stained legs and a light fabric, while the Hazel Chair stuns with its contrast of dark stained legs and its Joanie fabric, a fun and oversized graphic-inspired floral print. All of the upholstered collection can be specified in various fabrics from Joanie Design. The L.A. Cocktail Table completes the living-room set. Made with a great combination of ostrich leather, mirrored glass, and wooden legs finished in a soft champagne metallic tone, it’s the ideal mixture of quality finishes and materials that ground the fantasy in reality.

Classics Don’t Grow Old

French Heritage is a company that is breathing new life into old styles. It is the leading manufacturer of French-antique reproductions, and its Jacqueline Chest features a bright yellow lacquer that transforms this 19th-century bombe chest into an eye-poppingly rich and modern piece. French Heritage places importance on using premium materials and master craftsmanship to bring timeless pieces to today’s consumers.

Keystone Designer
First photo courtesy of Keystone Designer, featuring the Jepson Etagere. Second photo courtesy of French Heritage, featuring the Jacqueline Chest.

Another key theme that will be showcased at the High Point Market is actually an old favorite: midcentury modern. Keystone Designer presents its point of view on midcentury modern with its Jepson Etagere. Light and airy, and featuring straight lines and offered in a host of powder-coated finishes, this piece is made to fit seamlessly with a variety of styles—an attribute that is so important with today’s consumers as well as with the design community.

The Aiden Table by Keystone Designer is another example of an important American design movement made relevant again. Not only do the modern accents and features, such as the table’s tapered legs and supporting wings, make this piece attractive, but they also demonstrate the table’s adaptability—they can fit, both in terms of aesthetics and practicality, into modern spaces.

This is just a sampling of all the design trends you can expect to spot at this year’s High Point Market. My best advice is to wear comfortable shoes! I hope to see you there.

Kathy Andersson holds an interior design degree and has devoted the last 22 years of her career to color marketing in the paint industry. In 2016, Andersson founded Rendered Nest Home Staging and Redesign LLC, which inspires clients to create inviting spaces they love.