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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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DO YOU HAVE 2020 VISION? | Emily Morrow Finkell for NWFA Magazine


2020 Vision BY

Published By NWFA Magazine on  

As an over 50-year-old person who wears bifocals and has astigmatism, I can assure you that I don’t have perfect vision. What I do have, and offer to share with you, is my 2020 vision for design trends. The year 2020 is going to be one where we see that our specific market preferences are not entirely unlike 2019, but what will drive these preferences will be new and altogether unexpected. 

If you look at what is watched most often on streaming platforms, you’ll see that circa 1995 is very well represented. Shows like Friends have recently been rediscovered by the millennials (as they didn’t get to watch it when it was broadcast 25 years ago). Besides Friends and the reboot of Beverly Hills 90210, you’ll see cultural influences as seen on these shows from the ’80s and ’90s interiors emerging in 2020. As with every trend that has cycled from decades past, I asterisk them with this: Any trends from years past will undoubtedly be improved upon thanks to modern innovations.

These fashion trends aren’t just a passing fancy that will come and go quickly. Most likely, you can expect to have many “blasts from the past” making a big comeback. 

Behind almost every interior design trend, are the runway fashion trends that spark it, and haute couture houses like Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Saint Laurent, and Celine are hot on the ’80s while J. Crew specializes in making the ’80s trends applicable for the everyday person. Without going too far into “back to the future” mode, let me list some of the fashion trends that will impact interiors for 2020. 

From these trends, there will undoubtedly be some impact on our interiors choices, not in hardwood flooring, but as pops of color and sparkle for accessories. 

You may have already seen some of these examples in a Target or Home Goods store near you. For those of us in the floor covering world, we are all striving to stay one step ahead of trends, in the sweet spot of what matters most. Many years ago, I said there’s a big difference between trends and trendy, and to sum it up simply, trendy includes things that pop up and go quickly like reversible sequins on pillows, while trends are things that have a much longer shelf life, such as brushed gold lamps, fixtures, and accessories.

My eye is always on the longer sustaining trends, but knowing full well that the trendy can impact us unexpectedly.

Color and design professionals understand that the colors that are trending are affected by finishes, gloss levels, and even practical things like cleanability. That said, hardwood flooring colors are easily going to be well within the matte range of gloss levels. We can say with confidence that glossy-shiny is passé and will be for some time. We can also say that the reds, oranges, and wine-colored woods from the late ’90s and early 2000s aren’t coming back anytime soon. We do see the old-fashioned hand-scraped cider-colored floors on occasion, but it’s typically in an installation where the project was built without a designer or specifier involved.

In 2020, we will see a darkening neutral palette with more warm grays, charcoal to full black, as well as espresso browns.

The counterbalance to these dark neutrals will be accent-colored walls as well as lighter case goods and upholstery colors; creamy off whites with bright pops of color in trims; contrast welting, fringe, and tassels. 

With major companies tapping into the performance brand fabrics like Sunbrella, Crypton, and Revolution, consumers now are becoming more and more knowledgeable and thus confident in their expectations of life with a dog and an off-white sofa. (It can work.)

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Step into performance flooring, and you’ll find a wide variety of options as well. The hundreds of wood-looking vinyl, composite core, and ceramic products have so over flooded the market that consumers are looking around for something special. 

More times than not, they’re looking for the real thing…real wood is a real as it gets. 

Without a doubt, our digitally overstimulated appetite for ease and convenience is shifting to what is lasting and enduring. This is no different from when the over 50 crowd decided they wanted sophisticated and timeless classics instead of trendy styles that they tired of easily, or simply didn’t last long enough. My research time and again is turning up consumers who are asking for quality materials, and working with retailers and contractors who know their stuff and can guide them through the very confusing process of selecting hardwood flooring.

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What’s possible today wasn’t possible a few years ago, and that is waterproof and splash protection for hardwood flooring. 

Innovation, as defined by Merriam Websters Dictionary, is “a new advancement or a change made to an existing product, idea, or field” and manufacturers of floor covering are always innovating. Things that work for one category can sometimes be applied to an altogether different category, much like the transfer of using aluminum oxide in laminate flooring to hardwood flooring resulting in scratch-resistant surfaces. In the tidal wave of products that are “waterproof,” we can now find a handful of hardwood flooring brands that are protected from splashes, spills, and the occasional pet accidents. This is a giant step for our industry, which allows consumers new-found confidence that they can indeed turn back to real wood flooring.

Knowing that the Baby Boomers continue to age gracefully and carry their purchasing power with them into the decade of the ’20s, they will be a major catalyst that will influence our decisions for what they demand and what we manufacture. The same needs might apply to the performance of finishes to what they want and need.

The top design styles based on age is something to watch.

According to a recent Architectural Digest article by Lindsey Mather, “Millennials (those ages 18 to 34) are seemingly obsessed with modern, minimal midcentury design, called ‘mod visionary.’ Alessandra Wood, a design history Ph.D. and the director of style at Modsy, isn’t surprised. ‘Younger generations living in cities are likely living in smaller apartments and condos, so a minimalist aesthetic is more appropriate – perhaps even necessary – for the size of their spaces,’ she explains. ‘Midcentury-style furniture tends to feel more open and less bulky, and is known for being livable, which translates to both comfortable and stylish. Urban areas are also the prime location for the industrial aesthetic, with tons of converted lofts and newer buildings mimicking the loft-feel.”

The article also highlighted that the 55- to 65-year-old Baby Boomers, most often received ‘refined rustic’ as their result on the style quiz. “‘Refined rustic, in particular, blends classic forms with a more informal rustic style, suggesting that these generations are looking for a comfortable feel to their homes,’ says Wood. Perhaps life has taught them that a sharp-lined, sculptural armchair – a sure bet for millennials – isn’t what you want to cozy up in, well, ever.”

Besides performance innovations and the ’80s and ’90s fashion trends, which we will see in 2020, expect to see some familiar trends. 

Gray, taupe, greige, and chalky off-white are going to remain strong depending on where you are geographically. These neutral colors serve as long-standing timeless trends that won’t go away for quite some time as they are very practical, forgiving colors that help disguise the tracked-in dust and dirt of pets and people.

In a recent design project, my client showed me a photo of swept up shed dog hair from their chocolate lab. I emphasized the importance of that practical knowledge stating that it can be the perfect palette for their home so they won’t struggle with unsightly dog hair on their furnishings and flooring daily. In the same week that this client showed me their dog’s hair color, I also spoke to a group of regional flooring retailers and designers where one of the attendees stated, every person I know has a dog, and that dog rules their home or apartment. Employers are even permitting employees to bring their dogs to work as a way to attract and retain skilled and talented employees. We will see more and more performance, and pet-friendly features work their way into our world. With both fabrics and flooring already addressing this need, what will we see next?

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 an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at emily@emilymorrowhome.com.

SOURCE: architecturaldigest.com/story/top-interior-design-stylesbased-on-age

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A trip to Africa inspires EMH 2019 by FCW Morgan Bulman

A Trip to Africa Inspires EMH 2019 Products…Originally Published in Floor Covering Weekly on Wednesday, November 14, 2018


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.

New to the collection is the upgraded MorCore, which features a sturdy 3.5 mm wearlayer.



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.

 

The 2019 hardwood collection from Emily Morrow Home will feature a product inspired by the company’s 2018 color of the year, a matte black, called Total Eclipse.

 

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2019 Essential Trends: Color and Style Forecast

Emily Morrow Home “REFINED SIDE” a warm gray white oak engineered hardwood flooring

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 Neutrals palette 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 emily@emilymorrowhome.com.