Old School Bling

Just when you thought that highly-polished oppulent look was so 2007, peices like this chair from Camilla House prove that bling is back. (Camilla House, Baltimore Sun / May 13, 2011)

Home furnishings and interior design industry pros and savvy consumers alike know High Point because of the many furniture manufacturing companies concentrated in and around the North Carolina town and the semi-annual High Point Market that attracts on average 80,000 exhibitors and buyers from more than 100 countries around the globe.

The High Point Market is the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world, and a really great place to spot emerging trends. Hot new colors, patterns, shapes, and materials are introduced each market by some 2,000 exhibitors spread out in nearly 200 buildings and 10 million square feet of show space.

Interior designers spend several long days at High Point, moving from vendor to vendor hoping to spot the new and interesting pieces they will ultimately recommend to clients.

High Point is, in a word, exhausting, which is why I don't go every year, and instead rely on my friends in the design community to bring back word of what's new. This year, I asked Steve Appel and Lee Whitehead, local interior design pros and owners of Belvedere Square's Nouveau Contemporary, to give me a trend report and they were happy to oblige.

Appel and Whitehead, who have been friends since grade school and went into business with each other in 1986, tend to like more contemporary furnishings themselves, as their store name would suggest, but go to High Point with an open mind, always hoping to spot a new trend.

This year, reports Appel and Whitehead, anything with a British motif is hot, bling is back, gray and purple tones are popular, the eco-friendly trend continues to emerge, and more and more manufacturers are adding unique, differentiating touches to their designs.

British invasion

"The royal wedding has had a real effect on design," says Appel. " We saw a lot of Union Jack pillows, rugs, and hand painted furniture, as well as things with double-decker bus, phone booth, and Underground motifs."

"Anything in the red-white-and-blue color scheme is going to be 'in' this summer," says Whitehead.

Green is queen

The green furniture trend has been building for years, but what's interesting today is that it has developed a style all its own. Eco-friendly furniture, of course, is available in a variety of styles, but anything that looks reclaimed or repurposed, according to Appel and Lee, is popular this year.

"The reclaimed industrial look and reclaimed wood are big," says Appel. "People want furniture that looks like it was made in America."

To accommodate, Four Hands has a piece that looks like an old hotel bellmans's desk, Uttermost designed a whimsical and rustic Tic Tac Toe table, Guildmaster has some fun painted printer's chest cabinets, and, and Design Legacy upholstered a sofa in recycled blue jeans.

Bling is back

Highly polished surfaces that create a sophisticated urban atmosphere are making a comeback this year as an antidote, perhaps, to the styling of much eco-friendly furniture, which sports a less finished, more rustic look.

"For years we were seeing mirrored cabinetry, chests, and side tables, but then the trend started to wear off. But this market we started seeing a lot more bling, and just when you thought the mirrored consoles were gone, they're back. People are still really looking for glamour," says Appel.

A departure from the common flat surface mirrored pieces we've grown accustomed to seeing, new mirrored furniture is sporting unique, curved surfaces, mosaics and patchworks.

Purple and gray

Purple hues have been trending for some time now, and the color hasn't lost any momentum, according to what Appel and Whitehead observed at Market.