15961 Fri, 01/16/2009 - 5:34pm
By Jennifer Alexis
Rug vendors say to expect soft, neutrAl colors to remain key this year, with more vibrant hues making frequent appearances as accent colors in today’s designs.
Softer, neutral colors and earth tones continue to dominate much of the area-rug landscape, rug makers concurred. They said it’s a reflection of the nation’s collective mood—hopeful, but decidedly nervous and on edge as the economic climate continues to weigh heavily on people’s minds—and consumers’ need for comfort.
The market is blooming in colors considered to be calming, as well as easy to decorate around. They are often hues lifted right from nature. But manufacturers, not wanting to risk boring consumers with the same old look, said they are dipping into updated palettes to offer slightly different takes on classic colors. Vendors are also seeing lavenders and purples, yellows and golds, and other colors either trending up or staying strong.
“You want to lift people’s spirits, and at the same time, you want to calm them down,” said Elay Doyle, owner of Peel & Company Rugs.
Doyle is managing that delicate balance by incorporating both neutrals and more vibrant hues into her line of hand-woven rugs.
“For instance, the oushaks and lower-end rugs, we made those very cheerful, but then on the higher end we stayed more conservative and more neutral with the coloring,” she said, adding that consumers in the market for higher-priced rugs aren’t necessarily looking for the trendiest colors, which may be in one year, but out the next.
“They need to feel they are going to love the rug for a long, long time,” Doyle explained.
But the colors need not be staid or stale. In fact, she said, earth tones have been updated in her newer pieces to be more sophisticated versions of last year’s colors. Taupe is sliding toward a greenish hue, for example, and the greens themselves are also more complex, according to Doyle.
“It’s not just generic beige or taupe anymore,” she explained. “It has hints of other colors, and the greens have hints of brown or yellow in it, taking them to a different plane than other greens.”
Jaipur Chief Executive Officer Asha Chaudhary also noted the evolution of some already popular colors. Brown and gray abounded in the color schemes of rugs in recent years, showing particular strength last year, but Chaudhary asserts that change is in the air.
“Brown will be more bold in 2009 and less washed-out, and the new ‘greige’—a combination of gray and beige as national sales manager Matt Tollison puts it—is catching on strong,” she said.
The stronghold that the neutral colors have in the market is certainly apparent in Surya’s latest additions. Rich browns, beiges and other earth tones saturate many of the company’s collections, as is the case with its Cosmopolitan Collection, featuring transitional patterns in warm, earthy browns and red. Others in the same collection, however, combine the warmth of chocolate brown or varying shades of gray with a cool hue of blue.
Surya’s contemporary Charleston is another example of a collection using rich earth tones that, in this case, are accented with strokes or borders of black. The warm palette is arguably among the easiest to decorate around.
But while rug vendors agree that neutrals are in high demand, they also report a growing trend toward using other brighter hues to add a little pop to otherwise subdued color and designs.
Julie Rosenblum, Nourison brand manager, agrees that natural shades are strong, but prefaced this point by saying that the color palettes for the coming year are across the board and that there are other hot colors being added to the mix.
“We are seeing trends in clear, clean, crisp neutrals, gunmetal colors and many shades of earth tones,” Rosenblum said. “On the other hand, bright, contemporary colors are strong for 2009. Wasabi green with rich chocolate browns, black and white, rust and brown. Two-color combinations have a strong presence in today’s interiors.”
Kim Barta, brand manger for Shaw Living, asserts that while tinted neutrals, taupes, sophisticated grays and earth tones are particularly strong in the contemporary segment, she is seeing other trends emerging on the overall rug scene.
“The overall palette is moving cooler year after year,” Barta said. “We are seeing traditional rugs do well in earth tones and neutrals with punches of accent colors like lavender, coral and blue.”
Lavenders and purples, in particular, are undeniably hot. Purple, a color seen in abundance in fashion over the past year, seems to have seeped into the color schemes of area rugs in a significant way. Kas Rugs’ Hari Tummala, senior vice president of sourcing and development, identified it, along with grays and naturals, as a strong color for rugs.
Marlys Giordano, director of marketing and product development for Momeni, also named purple as a top color for 2009. “The thing about the purple trend is that it’s not confined to one specific hue,” she said. “It ranges from lilac to royal purple.”
The company’s Palace rug in lilac is an example of a more subdued shade of the color that put to use a softer, grayish hue of lilac.
Meanwhile, Nourison has introduced a couple of designs in its Modern Elegance collection from Liz Claiborne Home that play up varying shades of purple and pink. Rosenblum says the company is excited to use the fresh color palette of the designs’ over-scaled flowers.
Donnette Miller, Miresco’s vice president of marketing, described the purple du jour as a darker, plum version with hints of brown.
“We are seeing the return to neutrals and the focus being more about unique construction methods and great design rather than vivid colors,” she said.
Varying shades of blue and green remain fashionable, as well, with many manufacturers and importers making sure to have these colors in stock. “The ‘blueing’ of the palette is beginning to take place in a real way, but will be a slow transition from the golden tea washes of the recent past,” said Shaw’s Barta.
Nourison’s Rosenblum said she sees blues and greens being blended and combined with hues of brown, while Peel & Company is using softer, lighter blues as part of its emphasis on soothing shades.
A bold blue is among the array of jewel tones that Chaudhary Jaipur said will be in demand this year. “The Indian explosion of ethnic jewel tones that hit the market in 2007 and continued into 2008 will still be hot, and jewel blues will still be most popular for 2009 as the blue wave continues,” she said.
Pantone, a global authority on color, recently predicted that a warm “mimosa yellow” would be the color of the year in 2009. Rug vendors invariably seem to point to golden shades of yellow as the popular choice.
Working in yellow can present a challenge, according to Momeni’s Giordano.
“Purple is probably more livable than yellow,” Giordano said. “We’re seeing a lot of sunflower yellow, but people may not be sure how to decorate around that.”
The solution, she said, has been to include various shades of the color in Momeni’s latest introductions, with a definite lean toward the more golden hues—except, perhaps, in the case of the company’s comfort shag, which comes in a bright canary yellow.
Chaudhary also cited golden yellow as one of the spice colors she said will maintain its popularity through the year.
And Doyle at Peel & Company, banking on many consumers’ need for cheerful, pick-me-up color this year, has not shied away from using a lemony yellow, along with other colors she describes as “sherbet colors,” such as coral and orange.