By Allison Zisko
Come spring, everything in tabletop will be coming up roses. Or hydrangeas. Or some other bright, blooming flower.
Florals—bold, brightly colored, and either stylized or sentimental—are one of the most prominent design statements being made by the industry, evidenced by the product introductions unveiled at the New York Fall Tabletop Show this month.
Whether the abundance of flowers reflect the resurgence of a trend popular many years ago or an effort to present consumers with a cheerful and comfortable motif, nearly every manufacturer has a version of them, from Floral Fusion by Lenox to Silk Florals by Mikasa to Yardley and Asiana from American Atelier. Florals are “hugely important,” according to Sherri Crisenberry, vice president of Lenox Brands.
Overall, the newest tabletop designs have become more decorative and ornate, more feminine and, in some instances, slightly more traditional. Handpainted and embossed dinnerware, updated with more modern treatments, has returned to the fore, while new reactive glazes remain very strong.
Color is very important. Glassware is once again taking on color—on stems, feet or rims. In dinnerware, white remains the volume driver, but virtually every manufacturer also has a colorful offering, and those colorways are either bright and bold or softly neutral.
“Orange and orange-based reds are hot, hot, hot,” said Melissa Schwartz, vice president of sales for The Jay Companies. “And when corals are paired with leafy greens, plum-purples and even teal, it creates an eye-catching combination.”
Aqua, pink and kiwi make up the color scheme of Lenox’s Floral Fusion. And the expanding Vera collection from The Zrike Company is strong on blue and lime green.
Finishes are equally important, and reactive glazes and embossing are the two most popular techniques for conveying visual texture and interest. Sometimes multiple techniques are used for maximum impact.
“In housewares tabletop we are promoting reactive handpainted dinnerware sets and handpainted and white embossed patterned dinnerware collections,” noted Gwen Opfell, vice president and chief marketing officer of tabletop for Lifetime Brands. “In Pfaltzgraff, the centerpiece of our product introductions focuses on white embossed collections. In Gourmet Basics by Mikasa we are focusing on reactive mix-and-match collections.”
Gibson’s extensive dinnerware introductions feature reactive glaze stoneware in traditional colors and patterns that reflect what it calls an “heirloom” point of view, as well as new handpainted reactives.
Specialized product designed to appeal to consumers who are knowledgeable about a particular topic is a growing niche. Varietal-specific stemware remains strong, according to vendors. Libbey is introducing Reserve, its first line of varietal-specific stemware, developed with the younger generation of wine consumers in mind.
Waterford has adopted this connoisseurship mindset in its new Fleurology collection of “vase varietals,” a colorful series of vases in different shapes meant for different types of flowers.
There is also an emphasis on home and hearth, with products that keep consumers connected. One example would be conversational messaging, a trend that started many years ago in other home furnishings categories but which has steadily made its way into the tabletop realm.
Despite concern over pricing, which promises to be the major topic of conversation between vendors, suppliers and retailers in the fourth quarter, vendors headed to market in a positive frame of mind.
“We have not returned to the halcyon days of prior years, but the worst seems to be over,” said Tim DeVine, president of Devine Corporation, which is concentrating on a new bridal collection from Raynaud called Serenite.
“Our expectations are super high,” said Crisenberry. “We’ve had excellent markets. This market will not be different.”