Atlanta Market: Retail Meets Design

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"Retail Meets Design” was an apt theme for the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, July 12-19, where top designers and retailers turned out in large numbers to scout new ideas and must-have merchandise for the fall and holiday selling season. Illustrating the theme were room vignettes created by some of the Southeast’s top design-oriented retailers. Huff HarringtonMathews Furniture & DesignNandina Home & DesignSteve McKenzie’sThe Iron Gate and Tracery Interiors demonstrated how to curate and assemble a wide range of home decor that bridges the gap between mere merchandise assortments and compelling lifestyle presentations.

A few of the standout products featured in the vignettes were Stag Leg console from Bliss Studio; Tito acrylic chair from Jamie Dietrich Designs; white textured resin Beck dining table with faux tree root base from Oly Studio; Dutch Love floral pattern wallpaper pattern on a black ground from Ashley Woodson Bailey; and goat and Tibetan lamb fur-covered benches and pillows in fashion colors from Denmark-based Bloomingville, all looks that buyers can’t seem to resist.

The summer market also provided the platform for the debut of ANTIQUES, a juried selection of nearly 100 dealers specializing in 17th- to 20th-Century furnishings and décor of particular interest to interior designers looking for one-of-a-kind finds. Show floor inventories consisted of French, English and American furniture and accessories, a smattering of Mid-Century pieces, and assortments of decorative English silverplate and highly popular vintage hotel silver.

Elsewhere in the market, vendors took aim at Millennials with urban homestead and farm-to-table product themes. Design cues: serene and simple designs, muted palettes of cream, brown and gray, and humble materials such as rustic and recycled wood, tin and aluminum. Two noteworthy resources for these looks were the new Etu Home by Europe 2 You and Montes Doggett dinnerware.   

Brands specializing in handcrafted merchandise from around the globe appeared throughout the market, underscoring the ongoing appeal of far-flung eclectic glamour. The new Imagine Home partnered with Peruvian artisans to bring to market a new bedding line that combines organic and recycled materials with handcraftsmanship. Nested presented a selection of furniture and home wares from South Africa, while Cozy Nomad Designs brought indigo and mud cloth from Mali, Africa and embroidered textiles from Turkey and Uzbekistan. South Africa’s Lifestyle Hub showed a collection of furniture, home décor and giftware crafted from hides, beads, clay and linen by South African artisans.   

Despite its diversity and cutting-edge offerings, the Atlanta market remains the go-to resource for modern-meets-classic design in the Southeast, exemplified by brands such as Worlds Away and Bungalow 5. In keeping with the South’s reputation for stylish hospitality, it’s also the top resource for fine linens and tabletop. “Atlanta is more traditional than many places,” said one market attendee. “People love their homes, love entertaining and love to garden. Southern style is really all about that.”

Entertaining essentials were once again at the forefront, particularly serveware and barware that meets both functional and decorative needs. High on the list of must-haves were fashion-forward ice buckets, wine openers, trays, shakers, decanters and drinkware. Waterford and Wedgwood, both now operating under Finland’s Fiskars, hit a high note with Jo Sampson’s colorful Half and Half collection that pairs traditional clear cut crystal with brights, crisp white or black on a single vessel, and the striking Iconic collection inspired by the work of Italian architect Andrea Palladio that merges crystal with black Jasper. Black and white, along with a touch of pink, was also used to stunning effect on the new Lord Wedgwood collection. Global Views also put a stylish spin on at-home hosting with Julia Buckingham’s Love You Madly party-ready bar cabinet outfitted in the designer’s much-admired signature style.

In bedding showrooms, the theme was fluffy, not stuffy. Increasingly, luxury is measured in terms of loft, softness, and charm rather than ornate, overly designed collections. One particular standout in that regard was Eastern Accents which offered its new monogramming service, a perfect fit at the Atlanta Market where personalization remains a priority.

The next Atlanta Gift and Home Market runs Jan. 10-17, 2017.

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