Are We E-volving into Digitized Flat-World Consumers?
Did you know that the world is not flat? (Tell me something I didn’t know, right?) Well actually it’s way more than just round... Ancient greek philosophers like Aristotle, Eratosthenese and Pythagoras theorized that the world was a sphere and then centuries later explorers like Galileo and Magellan went out and proved them right. Navigating by the constellations above the horizon or seeing the round shadow of the earth during a lunar eclipse was ample proof that the earth was indeed not flat. “How does this tie into our modern day world of design?” you might ask. The world we live in today is round and yet many designers, consumers and hosts of companies who provide products for them treat the world as if it’s one dimensional. Look around you and consider all of the decisions you’re making based on a flat digital image. Our very tastes and behaviors are evolving towards what looks good on our Instagram accounts.
What looks good online doesn’t always look good in real life
As a professional interior designer who started my career 30 years ago, just before the internet became a thing, I have ALWAYS been drawn to textures that begged to be touched, memorable experiences that were intended be shared and artfully-layered interiors that beckoned me to sit for a while. Truly GREAT DESIGN, in my humble opinion, is steeped in art, science, architecture, culture and even a little bit of psychology. If done right, a well-designed space should invite the eye to come in, look around to find a focal point, experiencing the room in not only 3-D but by engaging the five senses.
Luxury Hardwood Flooring with “Good Sense”
With all of these thoughts in mind, take a little “Design Journey’ of your own through our newest collection of hardwood flooring, designed by an interior designer (yours truly), intended to be experienced by all five senses, and made to be a cut above everything else you’ll find in any big box store. Our hardwood flooring, like a luxury-performance vehicle, is not only beautiful, it demonstrates artisanal excellence that’s hand-crafted in the USA by an American hardwood flooring icon like my husband Don Finkell and his expert team who are passionate about what they do.
I am beyond thrilled to bring you luxurious hardwood flooring that, although is GORGEOUS, it performs well under a variety of conditions…whether it’s for a city dweller who sometimes spills a little coffee, or a dog-lover like me whose pooch splashes a little water or the busy family dashing out for a run or to tennis practice…bottom line, Emily Morrow Home is proof that beautiful design and great performance can be one and the same.
To borrow a fast food phrase, this season you can really “have it your way.” Do you want to use deeper, darker hues, or enjoy the ethereal effects of a layered off-white interior? Both are possible if you can’t decide.
Let’s say you’ve been eye-balling everything that pops up on social media feeds featuring navy blue or charcoal grey, but are afraid of being tied to that depth of hue. Do you think you might not want to live in so much darkness? Perhaps you’re imagining yourself coming into your home with the dreamy, creamy coolness and luxurious layers of off-whites and soft tans? That too is possible. In fact, you can do it all; it’s just a matter of balance – balance and a little smart strategy. The market certainly is offering endless options to consumers and providing tools making it easier to imagine via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
Just yesterday, I opened my Instagram feed to see several posts from paint companies, design firms, and furniture companies featuring headlines like “dark walls are amazing, especially when paired with a pop of brushed gold and a lot of natural light.” Usually, when anything is trending upward, people can get stuck in a wait-and-see mode until they start to see the various ways it can be done and they find one that seems familiar and doable for their own home.
Don’t Be Afraid of the DARK
When designing any category of flooring for upcoming trends, it goes without saying that we know quite well what colors homeowners are going to be drawn to and what they’ll be choosing for the new colors as they plan their updates. For me, it’s always fun to find a few surprises, and believe me, there are quite a few right now. One of the biggest surprises is that grey is still right in the mix. Seriously, since 2007 I’ve been pontificating about grey and eventually dealers started seeing the “value” of the color (if you’ll pardon the pun)…consumers were asking for it, and the dealers responded by buying pallets and rolls of grey flooring to fill consumers’ demand for something new, grey.
Whether it’s the Color Marketing Group (CMG), Pantone, Elle Décor, or House Beautiful, fashion and interior designers, design editors, and homeowners are still loving grey. It is making gradual changes and is finding new ways of entering spaces, either by undertones of other colors or by partnering with vibrant hues or extremely light neutrals. But no doubt about it, grey is still strong. Personal expression is going to be driving the trends – while they seem to be going in every different direction, the personalized element is the common thread.
My home is a petri dish
My own home has always been the best petri dish for anything going on in design, and I’ll admit that my paint colors have been grey since 2006 or 2007, starting with my Revere Pewter at both my former and my current homes. From our current home’s front door, which is “Bear Creek”, to our living room and keeping room, which are “Wrought Iron” and “Chelsea Grey”. What I love about grey is what the rest of the world loves about grey: it is so easy and looks smart. Whether your metallic finishes are oil-rubbed bronze, nickel, or the newest brushed gold, grey simply works. I know we will reach a day when we are ready to pitch it all out for something that is inconceivable today. I do remember when grey felt old and tired and we were drawn to warm colors like Hepplewhite Ivory and Adams Gold, circa the 1990s.
I think the best way to encapsulate our new color trends discussion is to start at the end of 2018, where we began to see and feel “Inhale” and “Release” from CMG, a creamy white associated with deep meditative cleansing breaths to minimize stress as well as open up smaller spaces, visually expanding them. Who wouldn’t love that? White isn’t the only option for a small space.
Then we turned the calendar page and leapt right into 2019 and discovered a new grey, City Grey, an internationally acclaimed dark neutral that is very dark, 70 percent black. Darker shades can play up the size and make it feel cozier. Dark colors blend and blur lines and corners much the same way they do in fashion and flatter practically everything that surrounds it. While we may have felt the “ahhhh” of the “Inhale and Release” in December, that was just to get us through the end of the year and ease us into the urban vibe and faster pace of 2019 with City Grey.
What’s new about this grey, you may ask? This has a little sheen to its finish, unlike the matte and muted greys. We are finding these greys influencing our other colors in the trends list. For example, our deep green certainly is deepened by black, and greyed pastels are tinted by lightening it with the addition of white.
According to CMG Contributors Judith van Vliet, Sandy Sampson, Mark Woodman, and Maryanne Cole, “Urban and urbane, City Grey is the look of color modernity. Originally emanating from CMG’s Asia Pacific 2017 color forecasts for 2019, its appeal is international, and its applications seemingly endless.
“Strong, decisive, and influential, City Grey is appealing as a neutral color that is anything but neutral. Its depth defines its bold stance, its contemporary attitude, and its decisive industrial edge. It connotes the foundation of the urban landscape, the hushed night as it falls over a city, and the fortitude of a cityscape.
“For interior, it casts a like attitude. Simple enough to coordinate with other aesthetics, City Grey is capable of standing on its own. As an accessory piece it takes on new substance; as a background, it demands to be seen; and in furnishings, flooring, textiles, and more, it creates an interior environment that comforts with its depth.”
The Dark Side
Overall, when you turn the pages of shelter magazines in the coming months, you’ll see deep, dark, not gloomy, but certainly dramatically dark receding walls, and mid-value darkish flooring accented with large-scale patterns in various pops of color in accessories. The deep greens we are seeing are akin to the hunter and pine greens of the late 1980s, as are the inky navy blues. The combination of the navy blue, hunter green, and a swath of black make Black Watch Plaid, which has made its presence known across various categories from runway fashion to interiors. Ralph Lauren elevates this trend well with the Black Watch Plaids from RL Home and RL Mens and Womenswear, as does Barbour for men, women, the home, and pets.
What does our industry do with this type of information? For starters, this information is applicable to your graphics, your logo, your brand imaging, and even your room scenes. And don’t forget that your retail and digital presence should reflect that you not only know the design trends but also know how to pair them with flooring. Your team should also be well-versed in the design and color trends so that they too can reflect your company well.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Storyboards are essential to the design process and help Emily Morrow Finkell transform inspirations into products.
They heard it before they saw it. For several days, Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO of Emily Morrow Home, waited to witness the “Masai Mara,” a migration of nearly two million wildebeest across Africa in search of greener plains and savannas. On the second to last day of her trip to Kenya this past August, while perched atop a safari jeep with husband Don Finkell, CEO of American OEM, cameras and scopes zoomed in, Morrow Finkell saw movement across a nearby river. They felt the wildebeest hooves echo like a rumble of thunder as they took off in a blur of color — a moment that would later serve as the chief source of inspiration behind Emily Morrow Home’s 2019 hardwood collection. For a short video clip of this experience, click this link “Emily Morrow Home’s Design Journey“.
“You can see the dust, the wildebeest, the zebras and other smaller animals all getting caught up in the herd as they’re migrating. They’re giving birth, they’re dying, there’s this whole circle of life story that was the biggest key for my products,” recalled Morrow Finkell. “Our products are natural and when you bring them into your home, you’re living on them, you’re experiencing important chapters of life with them. And they’ll last, they’ll be there for it all.”
Dalton, GA: The Emily Morrow Home collection for 2019 is twelve-SKU range of cooler browns and warmer grays, drawn from scenes Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO, observed of lion fur, zebra manes and the hides of rhinos, elephants and, of course, wildebeests. But her recent visit to Kenya isn’t the only story — a mixture of other memories and travels also appear in the upcoming collection.
For example, Paddock, a gray brown with subtle shading, ushers in sights from the Kentucky Derby. And, similar to that, Justify is a warm brown that mimics the Triple Crown-winning racehorse it’s titled after.
“The one thing I can’t not be is personal. Even when we have had designers and architects help with the inspiration, providing so much input into the products, colors or finishes, we work together on the naming process,” Morrow Finkell told FCW during a visit to Dalton. “There’s a reason behind why we do it. I think everyone likes to have a connection to a name. It makes it more memorable and we can immediately call to mind with our imagination the reasoning of the names.”
Each SKU is different, whether it comes down to an oil-rubbed look, a super dry low gloss, an ultra-micro bevel or a white plaster imitation. Yet despite the variability, there’s still some flexibility with the possibility of further customization.
“We find ourselves collaborating with a number of groups, such as for luxury high-rises, when there are times a project calls for something more unique or special to best fit that space,” said Morrow Finkell. “Everything is semi-customizable and we’re going to take that to the next level. That’s not to say that people won’t find exactly what they want with our original creations, but if our customers feel they need to make something more custom, we do have that design flexibility.”
One aspect that is the same across the collection is the addition of MorCore, which will give the floors an enhanced 3.55 mm wearlayer. The thicker platform, Morrow Finkell mentioned, is in response to designers asking for a little bit more when it came to the wearlayer, which is previously 2.5 mm thick. Both, however, also come with a “Donatella the Truffle Dog” scratch resistance.
For Morrow Finkell, the collection now has even more to love. With a greater durability, an increased width and length, and a higher impact resistance, Emily Morrow Home wood flooring can be used for both residential and commercial undertakings. In fact, the new white oak option in taupe, which features a smooth surface and is seven inches wide, is currently being installed with Apex Wood Floors for a commercial project to elevate a luxury appliance showroom in Chicago.
“Because our products are so incredibly well-made and constructed — all the way down to the wearlayer, warranty and finishes — they can go across all categories with no issues or hesitations at all,” explained Morrow Finkell.
Morrow Finkell also suspects there will be a few winners in the new collection of twelve, but she’s excited to see the market’s real response. For her, it’s about creating something fresh, but not something so new that people can’t embrace it and put it in their own homes.
Currently, advance previews of the collection are being shared with select customers across the U.S., but is set to be fully unveiled at the Carpet One winter convention in early January with Emily Morrow Home as a vendor to CCA Global Partners, then at TISE later that month and Domotex USA in February. The collection announcements will also include EMH’s 2019 Color of the Year.
Emily shares the Essential Trends in 2019…Color and Style Forecast with NWFA Magazine October 1st, 2018 issue. Read below for the entirety…
While it’s still 2018, those of us in product design and the development world are already living and working well into the 2019 calendar year. What, you may ask, does next year have in store for design trends, especially those that will impact our hardwood flooring choices? Here, I will share some very important and exciting insights that might just surprise you.
As someone who has not only professionally forecasted design trends and applied them into successfully selling collections, but has also practiced interior design for 30-plus years, I absolutely love this time of year when we start seeing product design shifts.
In my past life as Shaw’s Director of Color Style and Design for soft and hard surfaces, my scope had to be much broader. I had to focus on the aspects that all fit together so that the carpet colors and the hard surface colors would not only be trend forward, but also be salable. These colors had to have broad application across the United States, and that part has not changed one bit. It is that deep and wide background that enables me to successfully forecast well into the coming year with significant accuracy, knowing what’s essential for flooring collections that will be selling. Now that I’ve explained the groundwork, let’s dive into what we will see in 2019!
Many people ask me whether I think gray is staying or going away. My answer is based on the responses I have gotten when working with specifiers and designers, and looking at what finishes are going into projects a year from now. Gray is still with us, and still a very viable and necessary part of a product mix, perhaps even more so in hard-surface finishes like hardwood flooring. You also might see very colorful trend alerts from professional organizations like the Color Marketing Group, where pastel pinks, bright yellow golds, and blues are trending upward. There should be footnotes on these trend reports that spell out in fine print that these are accents and relate to broader product categories like apparel, interior accessories, cosmetics, and even automotive colors. That being said, these accents are like the colorful necktie on a stylish navy blue suit. The foundational color palette is what matters for us in the hard surface floor covering world.
Over the years, when speaking at design events and presenting trends, I have referred to the foundational color palette as “commitment colors,” indicating the big pieces of furniture, built-in cabinets, or other types of large surfaces that are not easily installed, replaced, or moved. This means that specifiers and end-users acknowledge that this surface color will be there for an average of five to seven years before it’s replaced. This space, this very myopic color palette, has been my primary focus recently.
The catalysts driving the foundational color palette currently are not just color-related, but also visuals and textures that are nature-derived and can be best described as aspirational luxury. Make note: This overview is what many would call the high-altitude view. You can expect to see marbles, granites, and limestones that are above and beyond your ordinary colors or names like Baltic Brown. The look is slightly more unique; the names and veining are a little on the exotic side. In general terms, these are names that most homeowners are not acquainted with, like Pietra Grigio or Nero Marquina. Aged travertines, Bianca Dolomite whites, gray-veined Carrara, and gray-gold veined Calacatta marbles, gray and black soapstones, and even gray poured-concrete slabs. Overall, this naturally derived color palette is generally cool; you will also see emerging warmth from luxurious onyx, Emperador Dark Marble and wood species like walnut.
2019 Color Forecast: Nature’s Neutrals
Black Eclipse: feeling more dark charcoal than a straight-out ebony black, Eclipse is just as the name implies, a shadowy black that works best in premium-quality hardwood where the grain is straighter, certainly no application on a rotary cut hardwood. Again like a shadow or an eclipse, there is no reflective quality to the darkness, simply matte darkness, velvety, if anything, in its appearance.
Emperador Dark Brown: Emperador Dark Marble is a rich brown marble that can change from slab to slab depending on how much and where the white veins run. Rich browns are on the horizon in hardwood flooring in the form of rich matte chocolate browns, especially in the walnut species. Walnut, in the right color family of brown, is and always will be timeless and salable. Walnut, although not as hard as other hardwoods, is making a strong showing in both commercial and residential interiors. Overall, one of walnut’s best attributes is that it can be mixed in with a variety of design styles and with a variety of other surfaces.
Bermuda Stone Gray: gray is enjoying a very long and successful life span. Since its first showing in 2007, gray continues to reign strong in every consumer goods category as a go-to neutral, backdrop blank-canvas type color, which bridges easily with other colors and also serves well in a wide range of design styles from mid-century modern to rustic farmhouse. Gray continues to become more and more refined as it evolves. Currently, grays have segued into that look and feel that is silvery, patinaed, and aged, yet smooth in texture.
French Limestone: The chicest hardwood color is in the same family as reclaimed French limestone. A quarried look and feel is the target texture. Not quite scraped, not quite wire-brushed, not quite chiseled, this actual color creates its warmth through the just right off-white with zero yellow, zero pink, just warm like the stone you’d see in an old château in France.
Sea Salt White: Speaking from recent experience of admiring the Bermuda sands on a recent trip, Sea Salt off-whites are akin to a mist with hints of color only from reflections of the surf and sand. Looking to find off-whites, you can certainly find the similar influences from my mega trend of plaster-gesso whites from 2017 and 2018. In keeping with gesso and plaster, Sea Salt is matte, and more importantly is not flat, nor opaque.
I look forward to the year ahead and hope that the Nature’s Neutralspalette explanations I’ve shared help clarify and define in your mind what is going to be the essence of 2019 design for wood.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at email@example.com.
First published for the NWFA Magazine March 28, 2017:
Every dog has its day…right? These days it seems as if dogs are living the high life. We’ve seen a growing number of adorable pooches who have their own Instagram and Facebook profile pages as well as a large following. Everywhere I’ve traveled recently, it’s been easy to find hotels that are “pet friendly” complete with dog treats and courtesy leashes in the lobbies.
This past week, I listened to some entertaining “dog tales” from the National Wood Flooring Association team about Michael Martin’s dog “Woodrow Forest Barker” aka “Woody”. He’s become the NWFA’s adored mascot. As the NWFA team told cute stories on Woody, I couldn’t help but think there are a lot of “Woodys” out there who hold special places in the hearts of the homeowners who are also choosing furnishings and flooring for their homes.
Homeowners are now designing their own spaces around the needs of pets and are choosing products for their home that will live up to the daily wear of tiny (or large) paws. If you spend any time searching HGTV.com, Pinterest or Houzz you will easily find posted photos of “pet projects” which feature custom-tiled dog bathing areas, comfy indoor air-conditioned and heated kennels fit for a king or a King Charles Spaniel. Beyond “dog specific” areas, the human-occupied spaces also include custom details like built-in dog feeding areas within the kitchen cabinets and fashionable dog sofas and beds with cushions upholstered in colorfully patterned fabrics. Speaking of fabric, check out the expansive selection of upholstery fabrics by companies like Sunbrella, Crypton and other “performance” brands. For years, the family dog wasn’t allowed on the furniture becasue of the damage it could cause but now the upholstery choices are made based on what would be “pet friendly” and easily cleaned. Now the family dog might have its own sofa covered in Crypton fabric with designs by either “William Wegman” or “Thibaut”.
According to a 2015-2016 survey conducted by the APPA, sixty-five percent of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million families, own a pet. The pet industry is expected to surpass its $62 billion dollar record set in 2016 according to the American Pet Products Association. “The pet humanization trend is alive and well and continues to drive growth at the premium end of the market,” said Bob Vetere, CEO of APPA. “As millennials prepare to take the reins from the baby boomer generation as the primary demographic of pet owners, they stand to further develop this trend.” Pet owners are a very diverse group of consumers. Young singles, newly married couples, young familes, empty nesters, retired seniors are just some of the types who are dog owners. Regardless of the age or phase in life, dogs enhance our lives in some wonderful ways.Whether it’s young professionals or retired seniors who otherwise would live alone, they feel that owning a dog is an ideal solution. Pet ownership can provide for social opportunities with other pet owners. Pets, especially dogs, can help you connect with other people, helping reduce stress, loneliness and giving a sense of responsibility and sense of purpose which contributes to overall well-being.
We’ve witnessed the influx of “Pet Protect” carpet, resilient and WPC flooring over the past few years as the demand for products that perform has continued to grow. It goes without saying that stone, porcelain, ceramic tile, LVT, WPC are easier maintenance for cleaning up not only spills but also pet accidents and muddy paws. Don’t forget though that there are endless hardwood floor options which are incredibly durable and stand up to daily wear quite impressively. Aluminum oxide finishes have elimated a large percentage of typical surface scratches and current flooring trends happen to include many species like white oak and hickory species which are inherently harder than others. Further current hardwood trends such as low to zero-gloss, face-sawn, wire-brushed and various other hand-scraping techniques make for a very forgiving flooring aesthetic as compared to the higher gloss smooth wood floors of the twenty years ago. Suffice it to say, homeowners need not compromise on the style or quality of their hardwood floors if they have a dog to consider, merely to be cognizant of the wood species, the type of finish, UV or oil-rubbed, as well as adhering to the manufacturers recommended maintenance for cleaning.
As we move into this economy which follows the recent presidential election, we’ll continue to see the introduction of more and more pet services, pet-centric products and pet-home products. Hopefully we will also see more hardwood flooring companies provide comprehensive and relevant information to consumers on dog-friendly products.