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 spotting what’s next in design and color. Not only will you find miles of showrooms that present the latest styles in furniture, but you’ll also have the chance to hear from industry authorities about what trends you can expect to notice in 2017. One of the CEU workshops we are most excited about 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 enamored of fall in the Triad region of North Carolina, and not just because of the bright yellows and deep browns that hang from the towering poplars on brisk mornings. No, it’s more of a nervous 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 drive to the High Point Market and I hear the commotion of forklifts and box cutters and paint rollers, all in preparation for the trade show that has dominated 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 display their latest products. During the weeks of the biannual show, almost 100,000 design fanatics and curiosity seekers from more than 100 countries pass through the 180 buildings that compose the market.

This is my 23rd market, but every year I get excited as though it were my first. I can still recollect the days when I had to rely on black-and-white sketches—a throwback to my design-school days—just to get a preview of the new collections before the show opened. Nowadays it’s so easy to just go online and check out 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 seeing 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 age 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 best way for me to get a sense of which colors are trending is to stand 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 observe certain visual hints that trigger my innate sense of style and discretion, but the ingenuity behind truly great designers and craftspeople is in choosing silhouettes, textiles, and hardware that magically convert an ordinary product into one that is drool-worthy.

One of my cherished premarket activities—other than selecting my market outfit—is reflecting on what has changed over the years. Which colors and patterns have been recycled? Which colors and patterns have been reinvented? 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 noticed revitalized versions of those same trends, as well as a few other retro trends. Below is a preview of four designers whose new collections highlight both emerging and reemerging trends.

Back to Nature

For more than 10 years, Lynne and Khrys McArdle of Alden Parkes have specialized in handcrafted wood furniture, and always with a spotlight 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 expansion of its regular market showroom. This fall, that increased space will be put to good use with new pieces that feature a trend worth observing: 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 artistry and usefulness. The piece’s elegant hardware, including the champagne leaf finish, mimics the movement of an ocean wave. Incorporating natural elements—the walnut, the wave—is nothing new, but the Oceana Nightstand makes the trend feel new all over again. This piece promises to draw both designers and consumers like a magnet.

Alden Parkes keeps up the back-to-nature theme with its Lesley Buffet. The Lesley Buffet epitomizes midcentury styling with its soft gray tones that are framed in brass with a slight patina. In another nod to nature, its unpredictable yet exquisite patterns are attained 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 getting an overhaul. 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 surge in interest. 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 popular trend: whimsy. This will be the second market for Joanie Design, a furniture company out of the Phoenix area that manufactures 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 select materials that creates just the right amount of buzz. As we all know, a bit of whimsy can be a palliative at a time when American consumers are looking forward to 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 course 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 thrills with its contrast of dark stained legs and its Joanie fabric, a light-hearted and oversized graphic-inspired floral print. All of the upholstered collection can be selected in various fabrics from Joanie Design. The L.A. Cocktail Table is the cherry on top of 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 an excellent amalgam of quality finishes and materials that anchor the whimsy.

Classics Don’t Grow Old

French Heritage is a company that is freshening up classic styles. It is a prominent manufacturer of French-antique reproductions, and its Jacqueline Chest features a bright yellow lacquer that revamps this 19th-century bombe chest into an eye-poppingly colorful and modern piece. French Heritage places importance on using premium materials and master craftsmanship to carry vital and classic designs to a modern audience.

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 on display at the High Point Market is actually one we’ve all seen before: 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 multitude of powder-coated finishes, this piece is crafted with a look that can integrate with pieces in various 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 this 50s American style made current again. Not only do the modern styling and details, such as the table’s tapered legs and supporting wings, make this piece attractive, but they also show off the table’s adaptability—they can fit, both in terms of aesthetics and practicality, into contemporary spaces.

This is just a taste of all the design trends you can expect to discover 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.