Century’s Shuford talks about doing business with ‘maturing trends’

Century’s Shuford talks about doing business with ‘maturing trends’

HIGH POINT — There are a nearly endless number of trends forecasts for home each season, so how can manufacturers, retailers and designers respond with confidence? The Furniture Today trends advisory board weighs in for this four-part series, starting with Alex Shuford III, CEO, Rock House Family of Brands.

At High Point Market, we heard that everyone was “looking for the next boucle.” However, many consumers still love it, which points to the fact that the industry is often ready to move on to the next thing before the consumer audience feels the same way. That said, how do you ascertain the life cycle of a “trend” for your customers/clients?

Bouclé continues to evolve but remains popular as shown in the new Edda Bench from Villa & House. Image courtesy Villa & House.

Shuford: There are certain areas where we try to be “trend leaders” but actual business is usually done around mature and maturing trends more than at the start of a trend.

Boucle is a great example; the industry is tired of it, and the consumer still appreciates it and wants it. While the well is still producing, there is no reason to abandon it. Still, smart companies will be prospecting for the next “trend” even while monetizing the current one. The sales graph slope is the guide.

At a certain socioeconomic level, trends are incorporated into “forever” or more long-term home furnishings investments. What are some of the items/materials that will never go out of style, and how often do you incorporate these into your product development and/or product sourcing and specifying?  

Shuford: Trends are a bit like rockets trying to reach orbit: Many are spectacular and impressive off the launch pad but never achieve orbit at all, some reach a low and unstable orbit and persist for years, and others become stable fixtures circling the world of design in seeming perpetuity.

Acrylic and vellum will be with us forever because they interact well with a wide variety of styles, rooms and woods to create a more nuanced design. Cerused oak has had so much momentum and adoption that its orbit is almost assured to be stable for years as people add to and work with what they have already invested in.

Boucle will certainly circle the design world for a long time because it delivers on durability in addition to hand and texture. Meanwhile, primitive and thick dining chairs with near vertical back pitch may fall quickly back to earth because, while they are attractive, they don’t deliver on comfort and are heavy to maneuver in a room.

Do you see consistency in what your customers/clients want for indoor and outdoor? If so, what are those “trends?” Materials? Certain aesthetics?

Shuford: I believe outdoor design is evolving quickly and is moving to a more nuanced aesthetic of mixed forms and materials instead of the suited looks that have been prevalent. Around the pool, you will still likely have a set of matched chaises, but under the covered patio, I believe the idea of an “intriguing mix” is the future.

Century Furniture’s Gustav outdoor cocktail table

Finally, consumers as a general rule are holding onto their money right now. When do trends actually move a consumer to buy? Is it a guarantee with décor and not so much furniture, or are there “must haves” when it comes to how upholstery and case goods are presented within the trend conversation?

Shuford: Ah, there are very few guarantees in home design demand creation. Health and comfort are triggers that can motivate consumers on upholstery, but we lack the type of “upgrade” motivator that electronics and technology have developed over the years. There is no i-sofa 15 that everyone has to have in order to feel they are not falling behind.

At best, our style trends work to make sure that new consumers and re-consumers are not simply relying on antiques and vintage to furnish their homes. Showing them a fresher and more modern way to mix a room and create “layered interest” is where many of our brands try to work.

See also:

  • Century CEO remains focused on building trust, expanding technology 
  • What were their favorite finds? Designers tell us what they loved at High Point Market 

The post Century’s Shuford talks about doing business with ‘maturing trends’ appeared first on Furniture Today.