Atlanta Winter Rug Market - February 2011
By Brian Hamilton
The annual winter Rug Market at AmericasMart in Atlanta got off to a slow start, thanks to an unusual winter storm that blanketed the south with up to ten inches of snow on the Sunday before the show started. Some vendors said there were substantial delays getting shipments of product as transportation from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was nearly non-existent in the early part of the week. Some shoppers waited until later in the week to attend to avoid skating through downtown Atlanta.
However, traffic picked up toward the end of the week and Friday and Saturday were reasonably busy. By midday Sunday, many companies had shipped their new rugs off to the next show in Las Vegas. Vendors said that given the circumstances, they were pleased with how the week went in general.
There was, however, no dearth of rugs for buyers to see. Unlike a year ago, at the bottom of the recession, when colors were trending conservative and many companies had fewer introductions than normal, this year there were many new offerings featuring ultra bright colors and playful, upbeat patterns.
Another interesting trend was how many companies bolstered their selections of indoor/outdoor rugs with styling that looked far more likely to be in a great room. The idea is that people are spending more time outside relaxing with friends and relatives and are more willing to put some pizzazz on the patio.
Finally, sustainability seems to be on the backburner for most companies as shoppers are still more focused on value and styling.
Some show highlights
The big news from Shaw Living this year, and one of the main draws to its showroom, was its partnership with HGTV to produce a new exclusive HGTV brand. The products will have their own catalog apart from the Shaw catalog and they won’t be sold on the web, but will be marketed through some of Shaw’s top aligned dealers. They’re primarily aimed at a younger demographic, age 25-45, with very contemporary designs and a price point starting at $579 for the nylon offerings. Inspire features the first PET woven rugs, manufactured from ClearTouch fiber. The fiber is produced by Shaw’s Clear Path recycling partnership in North Carolina. Colors include teals and purples, among others, and the array of designs includes leafy silhouettes on concentric rectangles among other contemporary designs, with names like Dahlilah and Charlotte. Haven uses Shaw’s EverTouch nylon and includes florals like Eastern Market and geometric patterns like Mod Links.
Other notables from Shaw include Loft, the firm’s first hand-tufted, imported collection made of 100% polyester and, again, aimed at a younger, urban demographic, with a retail price point of $399. The hand-carved accents and oversized motifs create an animated look. Stone Walk has the look of cobblestone, while Nightlife features circular shapes and a multi-blue palette. Ashar and Chandy are two completely different florals.
Shaw also rolled out a two shag collections. Watercolors, a more conservative, multi-colored shag of greys and browns, is made of BCF nylon, and starts at $299, while Bravo, a lower priced PET collection, features striking red, cinnamon and blue colors, starting at $179.
Oriental Weavers went back to its roots for a new crosswoven collection called Odyssey, a Sphinx collection starting at $299 that features a modern color palette, such as burnt orange and citron greens in softer tones, and mostly transitional and casual designs that mimic hand tufted looks. OW decided to use its old machinery, which is capable of taking eight colors and turning them into 56 shades, to create colors with a striated look that complement today’s trends in furniture. The firm also introduced two new handmade collections, Silhouette and Paradigm, designed for specialty retailers and furniture stores. The theme with these collections is “less is more” and the designs feature simple tone on tone patterns. Silhouette is wool with viscose highlights and includes bold flowers, animal skins and softer geometrics, and Paradigm is polyester with additional yarns for texture, and patterns are reminiscent of strands of DNA. Finally, the firm also rolled out a new polypropylene indoor/outdoor collection called Montego starting at $129. Past outdoor designs largely featured two colors, but Montego uses six colors with more fashionable designs. This is a growing category for Sphinx.
Dalyn had three striking introductions. Visions is a contemporary, shiny shag that would be at home in nearly any room. Berkeley is a 100% wool, transitional collection in light, contemporary designs featuring florals in browns and blues and even lime greens. Terrace is a new indoor/outdoor collection containing florals and geometrics, and colors run the gamut from brown, to blue, to ivory and lime green. These polypropylene offerings will also be equally welcome inside the home.
Family firm Capel, well known for its braided rugs (one was just selected for the North Carolina Museum of History artifact collection), rolled out Ombre, a modern braid featuring concentric rectangles and designed by fabric designer Kevin O’Brien, part of his first rug licensing deal that was signed last fall. The collection features Ombre Leaf and Ombre Sky. Capel also introduced a polypropylene indoor/outdoor collection called Salt Marsh, which features two-tone braids in dark reds, blues, greys, camel and mocha. Some also feature a rope border. Hampton is a new machine woven, nylon/wool blend in a bright basketweave design, which gives a completely different look to braiding. Candy, a new 95% cotton, 5% polyester blend, features wide, bright horizontal stripes of varying widths, with a solid border. Colors include Red Hot and Bubblegum. Capel also presented Creative Concepts, its new custom indoor/outdoor rug program starting at $399. It includes six carpet bases such as White Wicker, Sisal and Raffin. Customers then choose a border fabric from Capel’s extensive library, or they can even supply their own.
Karastan continued to roll out nylon products to appeal to the age 25-40 demographic. The idea is to create a younger generation of buyers who will graduate to more expensive lines as they get older. Last spring the firm came out with 52 nylon products, and it added ten at this show. The Studio Nylon category is constructed of soft nylon 6 and rugs have up to 36 colors. It consists of three collections, Artois, Carmel, and Knightsen. Artois is more contemporary, almost like abstract art, while Carmel is transitional, and Knightsen is more traditional. These rugs start out at $499 retail, a price point Karastan has never had before.
The only new Karastan Axminster was a remake of its Heritage Kirman pattern, a more traditional design.
Karastan was also showing a three-rug wool collection called Iconoclast. The designs are transitional and geared toward a high-end consumer.
Nourison was fairly aggressive at this market, with 11 new collections, as well as numerous additions to existing collections, all made in China and India. Designs include contemporary to traditional, and include colors and styles for any décor. One that caught our eye was the Contour Collection, a 100% polyester cut and loop pile collection featuring a variety of looks. For example, one pattern has the look of vines and berries, while another resembles a map of sound waves. Others include variations on the vine look, as well as circular flowers as seen from above, and colors run from deep red to a metallic grey. Some patterns offer bold contrasts while others are more subtle. Grand Estate offers traditional Ottoman designs of hand-knotted wool, with ancient patterns using modern, muted colors. Lakeside is a hand-tufted collection in a wool/viscose blend. One pattern has the look of seagrass over a solid field turned one way, but turned 90 degrees could be interpreted as a vibrant skin. A second pattern has the look of lakeside flower petals, using, featuring reds, purples and greens. For a simpler look and an extremely soft feel, Zen is a solid handmade shag collection made of 100% polyester.
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