A personal touch daring pieces are a hit with consumers…

by: Jennifer Quail

HFN Journal
May 24, 2004

NEW YORK – Retailers are noting a shift in the way their customers
are shopping, taking time to select designs that are more reflective
of their individual personalities, which often means a slant to more
bold designs.

Fred Hall, store manager for Einstein Moomjy’s 56th Street location in
Manhattan, said he has noticed that his customers are “spending more
money and not settling” for a product that doesn’t meet their standards
for quality and design. “There has been a significant turnaround,”
Hall said. “Consumer choices are reflecting more personality now,
becoming much more dramatic.”

One prime example of the more daring designs being selected is Lenore,
an exclusive for Einstein Moomjy. Based on an original abstract
painting by the Armenian artist Lenore Selian, Lenore is “unique,”
Hall said. “It goes back to that idea of fashion [for the home]
and people are buying that now.”

Lenore has been one of the store’s top sellers recently and the store
will work with its clients for custom-size options.

Howard Brodsky, founder, chairman and co-chief executive officer
of CCA Global Partners, parent company to Carpet One, has noticed
the West Coast’s more contemporary styling having an effect on new
designs, noting “the West Coast is always a bit more contemporary,
whereas the Northeast will be a bit more traditional.” He said there
has been a definite “move and direction in contemporary. It’s pushing
the bar a little, but it’s exciting and good for the industry.”

“Everyone’s very into florals,” said Amanda Price, public relations
manager for The Rug Company’s London operations. “I think it’s because
furniture has turned very square and formal, so you put in a floral
rug design and it sort of softens the room.”

“We’re finding people don’t want rugs that just blend in anymore,”
said Alex Conway, public relations manager for The Rug Company’s New
York operations. “They want to be daring and really say something.”

Price noted one particular new artist, already appearing in the
London shop and soon to appear in New York, is Kim Parker. She said
the designer’s “tea roses” and “mums and asters” rugs have been
“designs people really just love.”

And Conway agreed with California’s design influence, saying the
store has gotten requests for very oversized versions of very daring
designs. “It’s really incredible the sizes we’re doing for clients
out there.”

Hall has also noticed wall-to-wall gaining in popularity, “especially
here in New York where most apartments or co-ops will require
80 percent coverage” of a tenant’s floors, he said. But why would
someone in a city as transient as New York go for an investment like
wall-to-wall carpeting, which seems so long-term? “They take it with
them,” Hall said. “They buy the wall-to-wall and will have it cut to
area rugs.”

Again, the looks that go for the more dramatic effect are what’s
winning here. To that end, he said one of his customers recently made
a very shrewd observation when he said, “Buying carpet now is like
buying fashion.” Hall said, “Einstein Moomjy for years has tried to
make the business about fashion.”

Another point made was the fact that many of the more modern, daring
designs in the market today are made available at both the high-end
and more open price points as well, making it easier for the consumer
to take the plunge and test bolder prints in their own homes. “They
don’t have to make a major decision,” Brodsky said.

Indeed, many catalogs are up on the more daring trend as well. IKEA,
of course, has its stores and catalog pages packed with mod designs in
bright popping colors. And the customer is certainly not faced with a
major investment. For example, the company’s Odum rug is hand-tufted
100 percent wool and runs $199 for an approximate 6-by-8. And at Crate
& Barrel, contemporary styling gets a whole new look with coconut
wood for the company’s Kona Rug. An 8-by-10 Kona retails for $699.

Caption(s): An exclusive to Einstein Moomjy (above), Lenore (right)
has been very popular with the retailer’s Manhattan clientele. / Above:
Crate & Barrel’s Kona Rug is constructed from links of durable coconut
wood. Top: IKEA’s Odum rug offers bold design at a minimal price. /
Howard Brodsky, CCA Global Partners: The West Coast is always more