Furniture maker CR Laine has started coloring outside the lines when designing upholstered chairs, ignoring the old adage that you shouldn’t upholster small pieces of furniture in large patterns.
Holly Blalock, vice president of merchandising at CR Laine, talks about the new direction, and offers the inside scoop on the hottest colors, styles and fabrics for side chairs this season:
Q: Holly, you’re doing some really inventive work with fabrics and colors and frame styles on upholstered pieces. What do you see as the emerging trend in upholstered furniture?
A: I have to say that “color” is the standout word. Blue has always been a very popular color for us, but we’re starting to see shades of blue paired with bright, cheerful colors. Of course, bright colors need balance. So for this specific color collection, white is the narrative behind all the color punctuations.
Q: When did this trend toward bright color start, and how is it spreading through the design world?
A: The industrial look has been very popular for the past three or four years. Turbulence in the global economy brought about a serious mood in which designers and consumers turned to sensible neutrals like black, white, camel and gray. In early 2011, a breakout counter-trend to this minimalist movement emerged using bold, optimistic colors that emulate hope that things would get better. ... Look for colorful chairs to make their way into the spotlight as the focal point of a room.
Q: Your approach to pairing fabrics and frames is one of the freshest takes I’ve seen in years. Can you describe how you make this magic?
A: My approach is to banish design rules and do what makes you happy. Every six months, we roll out a new collection of upholstery silhouettes and textiles. These collections begin to form as we pair patterns and shapes from seemingly contrary genres. If the idea of this is intimidating to you, begin by pulling together images from magazines, books and blogs that feel good to you.
Q: What colors and patterns do you love right now — and why?
A: I swoon over texture — both tactile (touchy-feely) texture and visual texture (how color and shapes are layered into a room through lamps, art, rugs and upholstery). But, I would say that the fabrics that best describe my current color mood are the varying shades of pattern that encompass apricot, barley, graphite, indigo, marigold, teal, jade and coral.
Q: A lot of your picks are pretty bold. What rule of thumb do you follow so you don’t go too far?
A: A balance in contrast is the goal. Be bold, but don’t be harsh. Always keep the complete environment in mind when picking accent fabrics and accessories.
Q: What are some of your favorite frame styles, and why?
A: I love pairing a classic sofa design with a juxtaposed chair design. One of my favorite chair designs from our spring 2012 collection is our Gavin wing chair. We’ve paired a classic English arm sofa that featured a draped skirt and loose back cushions with a tall, square arm, tapered leg, diamond-stitched tufted beauty.
Q: What’s your favorite way to use these new pieces in a room setting?
A: Large pieces don’t always go in large rooms, and small pieces don’t always go in small rooms. For small spaces, when the foot traffic flow of a room allows, don’t be afraid to place a larger chair with a smaller sofa. Or, place two small chairs with a larger sofa. For large spaces, work in pairs — a pair of sofas, a pair of leather chairs, a pair of fabric chairs. And the best look is one that feels collected, so most of the time the chairs should be a different shape than the sofa.