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While Quarantined…Where do you go to find inspiration for your designs?

A serengeti sunset is beautiful until you figure out that in the distance is a burning prairie in Kenya, photo credits – Emily Morrow Finkell August, 2019.

When asked recently by a member of the press, “Where are you finding creative inspiration during the quarantine?”…and my first thought was that there really wasn’t a creative moment in this whole adventure of staying at home. Then it dawned on me…I had been going back through photos of our treks, clearing out memory cards from my camera and one in particular was from our 2018 trip to Kenya. As any good photographer would do, I didn’t immediately “delete all” but instead “viewed all”…and am “keeping almost all” of the images. So many of the photographs are astonishingly beautiful, causing me to ask myself “how in the world did I miss this one?”. You know how it is when you first get home from a trip, there’s a rush of activity, the usual stuff you have to do when you’ve been out of pocket, and for us, when we got home from Kenya we moved right into product development of the new Emily Morrow Home hardwood styles, all of which were inspired by our travels, many of which were the Safari, and then we ran right into winter market. Quite honestly I never really got a chance to sit down and absorb all the photos I had taken, only a few of the ones that fit the story line of my products. Now that time has elapsed, and now that I have some spare time to do this, I’m amazed at the phenomenal images that have managed to go unseen until this week when I found them, they are treasures. One of my favorites is this shot. I just love the textures, the mix of colors, the contrast of the gorgeous sunset and the threat of danger from the fires. It’s amazing how immediately one image can call to mind such a rich blend of sights, the smells, the sensations in my memory banks. Once again, I am so inspired!

 

Enjoy the journey!

Emily

P.S. Share your favorite travel photos with me at emily@emilymorrowhome.com

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Emily Morrow Finkell for NWFA | WOMEN INSPIRING OTHERS 

Emily Morrow Finkell for Hardwood Floors Magazine NWFA | WOMEN INSPIRING OTHERS 

The February March 2020 issue of Hardwood Floors celebrates the talented and dynamic women in our industry who have gone before us and worked amongst us. They smoothed the path, opened doors, and showed other women the way forward. I am so inspired by these women and would not be where I am today without their wisdom and guidance. Looking back on the lessons I’ve learned, and taking stock of how many influential and passionate women have inspired me never to stop growing, I hope what I do today will inspire others in the same way. While my career has gone through a series of changes, I know my journey would not have been possible with the support given to me by women in the industry.

THE VITAL ROLE OF WOMEN IN FLOOR COVERING

I’m fortunate to have a unique perspective on the power of women in flooring history, starting at a very early age. Growing up in Dalton, Georgia, I’ve witnessed generation after generation of women entrepreneurs acting as trailblazers and role models. If you’re familiar with the history of carpet, you’ll know it all started in Dalton along “Peacock Alley” with the crafting of hand-tufted chenille bedspreads, an industry started by extraordinary women like Dicksie Bradley Bandy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the great depression, Dicksie and her husband’s country store had given credit to their customers who had no money to pay for the goods they needed, only their possessions, what they could make or grow themselves. The country store eventually became indebted to their suppliers and although there was no way to recoup the money from their customers, Dicksie and her husband were determined to repay every dollar. Determined to find a way to raise the funds, she boarded a train to Washington, D.C., carrying a suitcase filled with hand-tufted chenille bedspreads to sell to large department stores. She came home with enough money to repay her suppliers AND with enough orders to give several families an income for their craft. That simple cottage industry grew and evolved to the point where Dalton is now known not just the “carpet capital” but as the “floor covering capital of the world”. 

In this industry, not only are many of my peers women, but the majority of our customers are as well. We speak of “Ms. Consumer” as making more than 91% of the purchasing decisions for the home. With the purchasing power of women in the United States ranging from $5 trillion annually, we certainly MUST consider “her” in our business decisions, and we certainly MUST consult women on what goes into a new product launch. 

WOMEN INSPIRING OTHERS

As I look back on my career path, I am grateful to the incredible women who so generously opened doors and encouraged me to go further and do do better. One such women was Evelyn Myers. In 2001 I had moved back to my hometown of Dalton from Carrollton, Georgia where I’d practiced interior design for 12 years. Although I was known in Dalton as Emily Kiker, I was not known by most as Emily Morrow, the interior designer. I did however know Mrs. Myers through my own mother and in some of our exchanges, she shared some of her upcoming “design-related” endeavors. It was that same year, 2001, Evelyn Myers invited me to be a guest designer in her “Judd House Designer Showhouse”, which would provide valuable networking opportunities with our local community, other designers and architects. If not for her invitation, I might not have had the change to meet the many contacts who later became my colleagues and bosses at Shaw Industries. 

Emily Morrow Featured in Atlanta Magazine November 2001 The Judd House owned by Evelyn Myers and the Myers Family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSONS IN RESILIENCE AND PAYING DUES

Looking back, some of my early jobs were excruciating. One example was working for a family-owned women’s wear manufacturer whose owners would inadvertently exhale their cigarette smoke into my eyes causing me to leave work many days in tears. At the same time, they also gave me the chance to work with fabrics, color-ways, and the people that would be selling the apparel across the U.S. That experience was priceless. Soon I found myself training sales persons about the designs and colors of the coming collections.

Along the way, I learned about perseverance, resilience and the importance of hard work – even when it it seemed at the time like I was being pulled in the wrong direction. Balancing competing priorities had been modeled by my mother, a fantastic entrepreneur in her own right. As I began my own journey into motherhood as an interior designer, I carried with me the power of the examples and lessons that only magnified in importance over time. 

While I loved the work I was doing, after the arrival of my firstborn William, I was inspired to take a huge leap. The result was that my own interior design business was born. It was the culmination of all that I had learned and experienced up until then – and just when I thought I had it all “balanced” along comes Mary. Juggling motherhood to two small children with an interior design business taught me how to put first things first. My first design business operated in the West Georgia area for nearly 12 years, doing both commercial and residential design projects. 

Those years allowed me the experience of putting family first. It’s a lesson I’ve tried to live by since. I learned to be a mother first and foremost, and I had the flexibility and freedom to schedule design appointments around the schedules of babysitters, mothers’ mornings out, and my children’s own evolving schedules. 

ANSWERING THE OPPORTUNITY

The women in my life have taught me so many powerful lessons that I try to pass on to those who I have had the good fortune of knowing. One of the most important things I was taught is that like doors, opportunities can open and close quickly. Recognizing the opportunities requires a certain kind of “sixth sense” to know when to take them. Unfortunately, too often opportunities can seem daunting and present themselves as “risk”.

This lesson became a huge blessing as I faced a professional crossroads in 2002. Having just become a single mother, and after operating my own interior design business for many years, I was encouraged to move into the corporate world to provide the benefits my children and I would need. While there was some risk involved (would I be able to work the corporate hours? What if my kids needed me? How could I juggle my children’s activities with my travel schedule?…and much more) it was a leap that I was well-prepared to take for my family. 

So when asked if I could direct a large group of corporate professionals and juggle continually changing business priorities, I actually laughed out loud. That had become second nature to me. For years, at any given time, I had teams of painters, carpenters, flooring installers or other tradespeople going in and out of the businesses and homes of my clients, on time and budget, all while being a mother of two. Speaking of juggling priorities, one very important project, a medical arts building was being installed the very day I was in labor with the birth of my daughter. Needless to say, both “projects” demanded my attention that day but in the end, my family was only thing that truly mattered.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY

I hope that my experience demonstrates to other women – and men – in the industry that you can prioritize family and still have an enriching and successful career. That is perhaps the most important lesson of all, and one I hope to be remembered for, the same way I remember all of the incredible wisdom and support that was shared with me.

I encourage all of us to prioritize family and to allow everything else to fall into place. Following my own advice, I opted to leave a life of constant travel while working for a massive company, to instead revel in family. I chose to instead take a moment to savor my time being a new wife, a mother, and an empty nester.

When the time was right, I again took another risk, following my instinct, and formed a new enterprise, one that would eventually become relevant to husband’s own company. Who encouraged me to take that step? It was the same woman who inspired me nearly thirty years prior, my mother.

 

 

 

 

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Top 5 Design Trends for the New Year and Decade

EMH April May 2020 NWFA Top 5 Trends for the New Year and DECADE 

The roaring twenties are here and that brings not only a whole host of new ideas, new design trends, it also brings the much-needed look back over our shoulders at how trends have evolved over time. 

Why is it important to look back? It reveals the patterns that occur over a course of time that helps trend forecasters and design experts to discern what’s ahead…and thus we begin. Back in the 90’s one of my most brilliant friends led the creation of “color through the centuries” palette for a major corporation, all of whom shall remain nameless. That palette is a valuable timeline to follow how paint colors moved and changed, from warm neutrals to cool neutrals, or from fleshy pinks and grays to “peas, corn and carrots” and offered concise speculation as to “why” those changes took place. Unless you just entered the work place fresh from school, you’ll most likely clearly recall the first decade of the 2000’s. That decade was full of seismic shifts in the market, the economy and in consumers’ behaviors. The popping of the housing bubble wreaked havoc across the nation but started specifically on the west coast first. At that time, my focus was on the color, style and design development and updates on the soft surface side, which needed seriously updating. To update it meant traveling first to the epicenter of where trends initiate, the west coast. I spent not just days, but many weeks traveling up and down the entire west coast, from southern California to the pacific northwest. It was there, in that light, in those designer resource rooms and retailer showrooms that I saw the problem. Dated color lines looked old and stale in a showroom where hard surfaces had become such an important material. Frequently during my lifetime, I’ve worked in roles where I had to change hats from “product designer” to “interior designer” to “end-user”, in order to suggest or implement necessary improvements and updates while understanding how the form and function would have the most meaning and impact. For example working with dozens and dozens of retail floor stores and design studios, I’d work with the staff to pull their best selling samples of hard surface materials such as travertine, travertine nocce, granite, marble and other natural stones as well as the then “NEW” hand-scraped hardwood styles which at that time were very red, orange-red or reddish brown. Each of these hard surface materials needed to merge seamlessly with the carpeted areas throughout the aspirational “show homes” or “model homes” or else the sight line in the floor plans would be disrupted but an “off-putting” change in coloration. This goes back to the origins of what we hear all the time today as “open concept floor plans”, that truly is when we saw the shift to merging colors across all the flooring categories and no one was taking that approach in floor covering until then. It took the mindset of interior designers to demonstrate the importance of these materials needing to coordinate. Today things are both similar and different. Similar in that the materials still need to blend, different in that in some areas the hard to soft surface mix has shifted to 80-90% hard surface to as low as 10% carpet. Hard to believe while sitting in Dalton, Georgia, the carpet capital of the world.  

Remember Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia which states that an object at rest stays at rest while an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force.

Thus began the shift to coordinating carpet and hard surfaces, that previously had been done only by a few companies. Doing so shifted from a once-myopic approach to color development to a design-focused approach to product development, not just of one category, but to multiple categories so the consumer who is shopping for flooring could easily find colorations that simply fell into place during their selection process. These colors are what I classified as “Commitment Colors” (my own term rather than an industry term), meaning colors that aren’t easily changed out, but are “installed”, examples are counter tops, cabinets, hardwood flooring, and natural stone or tile. In the design world, both residentially and commercially speaking, there are “commitments” like these finishes which have a shelf life of eight to ten years at the most and the remaining colors in the market places are “fashion colors”, i.e. accessories or smaller items which can be changed out easily, frequently and relatively affordably. These items are things like artwork, rugs, pillows, drawer pulls, light fixtures and upholstery. Changing out the “fashion colors” helps to bridge the gap between the old and the new, making a “dated” interior look and feel up to date. Keep in mind, there is Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia. The law of inertia states that an object at rest stays at rest while an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force. The market, consumers preferences are like a massive object that will not move until an external force causes it to move. The forces that can cause a change are typically major ones, a failing economy, a change in political climate of a nation, to use a memorable example, the attack on September 11th, 2001. Following that attack, consumers flocked to colors and interiors that “soothed” and “calmed” in aquas, light blues and gentle greens. The housing market bubble and recession that followed led to preferences that became super-safe with stable colors of stable navy blue and gray. Navy blue suits, pants and jackets became essential for those who might need to spiff up their attire after having been laid off and needed to interview for jobs. Then gray entered the scene during this time frame and really hasn’t left us yet. There are still parts of the country that are just now installing gray items. These areas that were the last to adopt a new trend are always the last to leave that same trend. 

Now that we’ve looked back, let’s look ahead to the TOP 5 NEWEST trends

1) GOLD FEVER 

We have a lot to look forward to in the new decade. We are seeing “gold” in the new decade. Both the metallic gold and color gold. Wall colors are going to stay either “White Heron” BM OC-57 or “Thunder” gray BM AF-685 for a bit longer but the fashion colors we’ll see added to the spaces will include timeless favorite combinations of “navy blue and white” which just so happens to be among *my lifelong personal favorites. Also expect the gradual emergence of the buttery “Golden Straw”  BM 2152-50 or other warm colors such as the pinkish “First Light” BM 2102-70, Benjamin Moore’s 2020 Color of the Year. 

2) LIGHT-BRIGHT

“LIGHT” is a key theme for the new decade’s trends. Lightness in color is essential for the transition of the new trends as it helps make the shifts easier to manage for all interiors. Just think back to my previous color forecast which included “Sea Salt”, “French Limestone” and referenced the “Hygge” movement starting back in 2016, we can expect to see more of those light and airy trends for quite some time. Hygge is a Scandinavian term for making things calm, comforting and eliminating clutter, bringing order into the home. But like always, there will always be an opposite reaction in the market place which brings me to “maximalism”, everything and the kitchen sink. The clash of colors, the clash of design styles all require there to be one element that allows for some much going on, and that is hardwood flooring, especially lightness and brightness in color, clean without much character, longer and wider planks, and lots of color punch. 

3) SAY IT AIN’T FAUX 

Whether it’s the Hygge or the Maximalist trend, both call for one thing, and that is “real hardwood”. There’s no room for “faux” materials in this new decade…we are now entering in the wonderful world of “natural fibers, natural materials” as well as premium finishes and installation methods.  Consumers who have been eating “clean”, are on regular shipments of “organic” ingredients, are meal prepping in “glass only” containers are the same consumers who are becoming very weary of the “fake” plastic feeling of their “non-hardwood” wood look alike flooring. These are the same consumers we have all been talking about as “millennials” who at first were labeled as someone who lives with their parents but now we are learning this same generation will be the recipients of a great deal of wealth as they inherit from the boomers’ estates. The millennials do know better quality, and aren’t shy about asking questions, perhaps much to your annoyance if you’re in the retail business, but know this, if you educate them in a non-condescending way, you’ll earn their business. All of our surveys and research indicate that the millennials DO WANT to and are now beginning to own their own homes, they aren’t willing to trade down in quality, and they do appreciate “natural” premium materials. Keep in mind though that this demographic group OWNS DOGS and they LOVE THEIR DOGS…so flooring in this new MUST BE PET FRIENDLY (see trend 5)…it’s not optional anymore, it’s a must have.

4) MOODY BLUE  

It’s always exciting when you see your own favorite design elements come into vogue…sort of. What happens is this, I have a few things that I have always adored, regardless of whether they are “in” our “out”. It becomes annoying when all of a sudden your most cherished thing is splashed across every magazine cover, social media post and inside the covers of shelter catalogs, making your “special” thing feel less unique. That’s the case with the massive blue trend we are seeing in interiors. You can easily find it, it’s a color of the year for several companies, from Sherwin-Williams “Naval” SW 6244 to Pantone’s “Classic Blue” 19-4052. It was just yesterday when I designated “English Royal Navy” as a color of the year, which should tell you this…some colors are going to always be around, especially colors like Navy Blue which have a universal appeal regardless of gender, of socio-economic status or design style. Navy Blue is making a huge splash because it can be “nautical”, it can be “coastal”, it can be “urban”…and it works especially well with light whites and looks amazing with brushed gold accents. For the world of hardwood, I don’t suggest you go out and get blue hardwood flooring but you do need to have an awareness that consumers are going to be painting walls this color and your offerings of flooring will need to coordinate well with it.

5) HEAVY PETTING REQUIRED

We are now in a time when it’s not a trade-up or optional add-on to have some product that is pet-friendly. Look around you and you will see an endless array of pet-friendly or kid-friendly products labeled as “performance”. They are spill-proof, splash-proof, resist fading and surface scratching. These performance products at one time had a small niche market. Companies and brands like Stainmaster, Sunbrella and Crypton blazed the trail years ago showing consumers that they can spill on fabric or carpet and the liquids would bead up and roll off. That was then and this is now. We have fashion and interior brands that have brought “performance” into the mainstream mindset where it’s now an assumption rather than a add-on that products will stand up to some form of spills and traffic. Think about our attitude towards vehicles. We are the same consumers who have a huge appetite for SUVs with four wheel drive although we rarely engage that feature. We are also the same consumers who love kitchen appliances that are commercial-grade. Gas ranges, freezers and refrigerators that have an ultra-commercial look to them, have commercial-type options but are set up for residential use is where you’ll find a majority of the activity at shows like KBIS and IBS. We have to have hardwood flooring that can be submerged in water, endure a family of kids, dogs and muddy boots now and still look beautiful after all that abuse. Thanks to innovations in technology we can have it all. Today our industry does have companies like American OEM that makes Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Flooring “OMG Proof Protection”, “WetWorx” and there are other trade and brand names for hardwood finishes that can endure. What’s next? Stay tuned!

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Domotex USA 2020 | Emily Morrow Home hosting Design Personified Lunch & Learn for Designers & Retailers

Don’t miss this special ticketed event

Design Personified | Turning Trends into Reality

Feb. 6, 2020 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM 


Emily Morrow Home is hosting the 3rd annual EMH Design Panel and  the 2nd annual Designer event at Domotex USA, February 6th, 2020.

Having an understanding of today’s trends is extremely important when helping customers with their décor choices. However, many of these “trends” can seem unrealistic to a consumer who is living in a dated home. They want to incorporate the latest looks into their décor but feel it is impossible without undergoing a major renovation.

By attending the Designer Personified panel discussion, you will learn how to tackle this challenge and more. Attendees will hear from leading designers as they share the latest design trends, discuss the difference between “trends” and “trendy,” and teach valuable “tricks of the trade,” you can use to help customers realistically incorporate fresh, lasting looks they love.

Pricing

  • $55 through Dec. 17
  • $65 Dec. 18 Feb. 4
  • $75 onsite

Space is limited.

REGISTER

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Emily Morrow Finkell 

CEO and Founder of Emily Morrow Home

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Jane Dagmi

Designers Today
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Michel Smith Boyd

Michel Smith Boyd Interiors
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Pacita Wilson

Pineapple Park
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Jenny Wagner

J. Thomas Designs
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Mark Woodman

Mark Woodman Design + Color, LLC
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Domotex USA 2020 | Emily Morrow Home to host Design Personified: Behind-the-Scenes Mill Tour

DOMOTEX USA Header

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The State of Interior Design 2020

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Saturday, October 5th, 2019 Fox & Friends interview Emily Morrow Home at the Made in America Expo where company was named the “Made In America Manufacturing Community Award” 2019 winner 

On Saturday October 5th, 2019 Fox & Friends Carley Shimkus interviewed Emily Morrow Home at the Made in America Expo in Indianapolis where the Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Company was named the “Made In America Manufacturing Community Award” winner.

The “Made In America Living Room”, designed by Emily Morrow Home, featured sliding chevron barn doors *made of sliced white oak from the same hardwood as the flooring in Montezuma, Indian, which coordinated with the warm gray white oak floors “Paddock”, a modified version of mid-century modern sofa made in Lenoir, North Carolina by Aria Designs, hand-woven rug and pillows made by Patricia Lukas’ Loominaries of Candler, North Carolina. The color palette of the Living Room was inspired by the American Flag which was featured among the made in America accessories.

The Made In America Emily Morrow Home Team: Spike Tilden, Don Finkell, Emily Morrow Finkell, Don Blair, and Joe Miller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Made in America Community award was a nod to the “community” aspect of the prison industries enterprise which is at the heart of the Emily Morrow Home design aesthetic, artisanal visuals for hardwood flooring.Emily Morrow Finkell accepts the award as a way of showing her admiration for her husband Don Finkell’s lifetime of work with the prisoners within his program.

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If you would like to locate the nearest retailer(s) who carry the Emily Morrow Home Hardwood or the Louis A. Dabbieri Exclusively by Emily Morrow Home, feel free to contact us at info@emilymorrowhome.com, call 1-866-775-3877 or click here to locate your nearest retailer,

keeping in mind that our presence across the USA is growing weekly and it might not reflect the complete list of floor covering retailers.

 

 

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What does “MADE IN AMERICA” mean today?

Are you buying American?

 

Have you seen the news about an upcoming Made in America Exposition in Indianapolis, Indiana October 3rd through the 6th? Check it out! I think you might get as excited as I did when you see all the people and energy behind it. It might make your brain spin wondering “who” really is an All-American manufacturer. Proudly I’m exhibiting as the “Made in America Living Room” by Emily Morrow Home and showing the “Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Flooring” that is made in Tennessee by my husband’s company American OEM. Beyond the hardwood flooring we will be showing Aria Designs Upholstery that’s made in Lenoir, North Carolina, and hand-loomed rugs and pillows by artisan Patricia Lukas, owner of Loominaries of Candler, North Carolina. Just this afternoon, I had a call with another co-exhibitor at this MIA event who’s recently been stressing about the same challenges that I had: “Where do you find light bulbs or lamps that you can be certain are made in the USA? How pure can we actually remain with the various accessories that we place in our rooms at the expo? In regards to pillows, perhaps the fabric is made in the USA but the filler might be from overseas origins…where does the MIA intention begin and end? My intention is to stay within the practical realm when at all possible. The goal is to showcase all American-made products and to do our due diligence to make sure the hidden contents of the products are American as well.

 

Seeing through the fog

How hard is it to see through the fog of misleading messaging which products are and are not actually American-made? As an interior designer, a product designer, lifestyle brand and marketer, I have been tuned-in to this for many years. As an “insider” to the industry, you’d think it would be easier for me but it is very hard to know whose products are and whose are not American made. I can assure you that my hardwood flooring products are 100% American-made. Even our trees are responsibly grown and harvested from the eastern side of the USA and much of it comes from the great states of Indiana and Tennessee. It’s been said that “Southern Indiana grows the finest textured white oak timber in the world”. I don’t doubt that as our hardwood flooring is as beautiful as it is American.

Legal Logging

“French oak” or “Stolen Forests”

In the hardwood flooring category, there are hundreds of products that are veiled as “European” or “American” with luxuriously European or patriotic sounding names, with American flags on the graphics, playing on the “assumption” that this or that longstanding American brand / company/manufacturer’s products are made in the United States when in fact they’re not. Although I don’t have to like this, I do have to compete in this…and this world is not only highly competitive, it’s hard. The Decorative Hardwoods Association is a great resource if you’d like to read more about the subject of timber, legal and illegal.

You don’t have to compromise

We’ll be sharing more details about the design aesthetics of our Made In America EMILY MORROW HOME LIVING ROOM over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll either plan to attend or follow the event, and more importantly won’t you consider doing business with American-made companies like my own Emily Morrow Home, or my amazing MIA friends: Holder Mattress Company, Wellborn Cabinets  and Loominaries ? You won’t have to compromise on style, quality or price and you might find that it will last longer, look better longer and one final thing is that you’ll have the sense of pride in the “American-made story” at the heart of your decisions. You can find our Emily Morrow Home Hardwood all across the USA as well as the Louis A. Dabbieri Hardwood Exclusively by Emily Morrow Home. Click this link to find our retailers near you and if you don’t find one, give me a call at 1-866-775-3877 and I’ll personally help you.

Check out our video library below featuring the design inspiration of our exquisite products, our OMG Proof Protection, Donatella the Truffle Dog and much more!

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Emily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unplugged: Powering Off Digital Allows Creative Inspiration to Flourish

Unplugged: Powering Off Digital Allows Creative Inspiration to Flourish

What Inspires You?

Inspiration. It’s at the heartbeat of the flooring industry and what keeps us all in the cycle of evolution. What inspires you? How are you inspired? When are you inspired?

Being a “creative” today is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we are all constantly infiltrated with new perspectives, fresh ideas, more accessible travel, and, well, ideas. Within an instant, my newsfeed is taking me to an emerging high-rise project in Dubai; I’m in a train buzzing through wine country during harvest in an Instagram story; I’m watching a blogger’s design journey as she renovates a midcentury bungalow in San Francisco – while I am on Wi-Fi and in the air from LaGuardia to Paris. Information – too much information – is at my fingertips at breakneck speed.

Market Watch recently revealed that the average American adult spends 11 hours per day consuming digital media, which is up from 9 hours and 32 minutes only four years ago. But I did not need a study to tell me this news. My newest iPhone XS Max reveals my screen time usage, and the daily notification is staggering, to say the least. It leaves us all wondering, “Did I really look at my phone that much today?”

Do I Need Digital Detox?

While we’re consuming all of this media, how is our brain processing it? Studies show that the overconsumption of digital makes us feel differently, react differently, think differently, and sleep differently. According to a Mashable article from just a few years ago, some cognitive experts have found benefit in digital exposure and its effects on the human brain, whereas others worry that too many distractions have left our brains uncreative and impatient.

Digital has its place in the creative process; let’s be honest. After all, it’s 2019. Sites like Pinterest, Houzz, and the world of influencer marketing have made interior design and the floor shopping process engaging and attainable, and for that, the industry is grateful. But as “creative” professionals who are focused on pushing the design envelope ever forward on behalf of both the industry and our brands, how do we cut through the noise?

Slide to power off.

True creativity is not happening behind the screen. While the screen may reaffirm our ideas and give us a sense of belonging, the creative process does not begin or end on the screen. At the risk of sounding unapologetically cliché, the creative process is all around us in the most present and current sense. The creative process is sitting on the ground surrounded in paint swatches, white oak slices, frayed pieces of fabric, and a team of experienced professionals with sawdust in their eyes. It comes from digging deep in the parts of our minds, our hearts, and our souls, which technology cannot power up or power on.

Creativity is connectivity – with the human spirit, not a cable.

My most recent and prevalent example of unplugging for authentic creativity to prevail was during an African safari this past summer with my family. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, the journey allowed us to soak in the majesty of nature in all its raw splendor. From the journey, one of my newest collections was born.

Unplugging has become key to my creative process. And my wish is that it becomes key to yours as well. Keep that pen and notebook in your bag. Pull it out when an idea or inspiration strikes. Start up a conversation with the person in the plane seat next to you. Sit in a local coffee shop and people watch. Walk through a museum and read every exhibit marker. Laugh out loud with your chin up. It’s within all of this living and all of this connecting and the moments unplugged that creativity – true creativity – will flourish.

Whether or not we unplug from digital, the world isn’t going to stop. But as the future of the flooring industry and as “creatives,” it’s up to us to quiet the noise – so that we can create and continue to propel the industry forward. So, when you see me in the airport chatting up a stranger, sketching in my journal, or soaking in a beautiful moment, you’ll know it’s intentional.

Let us power off and create.

Where do you go from here? How do you power off more often? Here are some simple tips from Digital Detox to help you unplug:

  • Start your day right: Get up, relax, and eat a healthy breakfast instead of reaching for the phone.
  • Go old school: Get an old-fashioned flip phone instead of a smartphone.
  • Do more: Pack your day full of person-to-person meetings where you commit to not reaching for the phone.
  • Bring a book: Pick up a good read.
  • Download an app: Get some tech help in monitoring the time you spend on the phone.
  • Go on a digital diet: Reduce your time online by 10 percent.
  • Take a mini break: Leave your phone at home for a day.
  • Streamline your work: Ask that people connect with you only through one medium.
  • Get active: Jog or bike to work, phone free.
  • Leave your work behind: Consider a work phone and personal phone and utilize out of office.
  • Involve your friends: Invite your friends to keep you accountable.
  • Lock up: Ask a friend or partner to take your phone for a bit.
  • Set a strict technology bedtime: Your technology needs a bedtime, too.
  • Schedule some free time: Schedule tech time and then turn it off.
  • Be more in the moment: Go for a walk and soak in your surroundings.
  • Just switch it off: Enough said.

Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood,  a div. of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at emily@emilymorrowhome.com.