Design for the Rest of Us
In This Issue
TRENDS in Home Fashion
WEBINARS in the Fall
Quick Links
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
Issue: # 2 August/2009

Welcome to the second monthly issue of
Design for the Rest of Us
August, in my former 9-5 life, meant a trip upstate,  a rustic cabin on Lake George, tennis in Ticonderoga, the track in Saratoga, and a great tan. 
Now, August, like January, means the Gift Fair in New York. While not a trendy kind of person, I do have a knack for trend spotting especially relating to the home and lifestyle fashion. Far from just gifts, the show amasses an enormous range of products from all over the world.  I suppose this was my August vacation as I perused some wonderful traditional, inventive and colorful items, especially those from developing and re-emerging nations.
Please enjoy and share withe friends.  Feel free to offer your feedback.
My September, Back to School Issue should be more timely as it's already in progress.  It will include a segment on Elements of Design, understanding the building blocks of design.
TRENDS for Home Fashion
New York International Gift Fair
Home Textiles Show
August 2009 
GLM runs this multi-venue show throughout the U.S.  The NYC show includes the entire Jacob Javits Convention Center, Pier 94 and the permanent trade centers at 7W, 230 Fifth Avenue and 41 Madison Avenue. 
A few years ago, an elderly gent on the shuttle that transports buyers between venues, told me that the "show" is 23 miles of aisle-walking. Perhaps this recession version is downsized to 20!
Javits.jpgMuch of the merch isn't really fodder for this home fashion newsletter, e.g. jewelry, stationary, handbags and bath products.  I try to restrict myself to stuff for the home, knowing full well that cross-pollination between home and personal fashion is,well, fertile.  Trying to stay within my parameters, I may have kept it down to a mere 10 miles.  

Overall comments: 
  • Vendors were more optimistic about sales than at the January show
  • Beautiful patterns and graphic designs,  most notable in paper products, such as note cards and gift wrap, were pervasive. I can't imagine what there is at the Stationery Show. I saw this coming several years ago as a backlash to computerized communication. My youthful friends doubted me. Once again, sweet validation!  In other words, "I told you so".
  • The 3 Rs...reduce, reuse, recycle is now at least 5 Rs.  Add repurpose and regurgitation.

Trend #1   Homilies 

Homilies are those incontrovertible truths that only cynics would doubt. Love, Peace, Mom and Apple Pie (now more likely cupcakes). Add 1950's Retro aprons and picnic accoutrements to flesh out this state of mind.
Homilies.jpgPeace symbols are back with a vengeance, as in overkill.  From bling to cardboard to tin, they are so heavy hitting and ubiquitous, kind of like skulls are to Goth.
Lassie and  tweety, you rule. Frankly, I'll take those sweety tweety graphics on ceramic and pillows over doggies. Don't sic PETA on me, please. 
 Trend #2  Materials Matter
Sustainability, the term that goes further than Green, has reached a level where designers, manufacturers and consumers have a decent level of awareness.  But it is a complex subject.  Sustainability considers the past, present, and the future.  It considers not only the raw material, but manufacturing and transportation of products, plus its continued life.
 Recycle.jpg"Necessity is the mother of invention".  Some of us in previous lean days (as in college) shopped thrift shops before it was trendy.  It was known as used not recyled then.  Or, "previously owned" in the car sales vernacular.
Others in more chronically lean times, like in countries like Haiti, were into combining art and recycling for years such as these wonderful wall plaques made of tin oil drums still showing up at the show and just improving in design style. Wall plaque.jpg

While some products and manufacturing techniques appear to be in sync with a sustainable sensibility, many are just capitalizing on the notion.  This is regrettable.  It fosters a greenwashing effect, where the greenness of products is fudged. This, in turn leads some to think this eco-friendly movement is just hogwash.
 Loved what I saw at the show that was truly recycled such as the wood bowls by Peterman, the vintage glass jars from Europe2you and the chandelier made VintageGlassof silverplate. 
Mixed feelings about the appealing trend of the new textiles that "look vintage".  Unfortunately, they do create more product and waste, often being transported from far away countries using much fuel to do so. Do wish designers did more with truly domestic post-consumption vintage fabric. 
I was also attracted to cardboard (click on this and check out the video on liquid cardboard...fascinating!).



Felt, a cloth created from wool, not the synthetic craft store variety, is a versatile and sustainable product. Fun and fashionable.  It reached celebrity status at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum's exhibition
Fashioning the Felt although it's been around for centuries in Mongolia. 
 Felt Chair
Love these
flowers and rocks at the fair. 
 Trend #3  
Color Craze, Pattern Maze 
Whether inspired by India, China, Europe or Latin America, bold color and pattern mixes created a festive feeling.  Karma Living does a great job of cleverly confusing us.  Suzanis, traditional tapestries from Central Asia, fuse with Indian and Islamic forms. Mexican brights show up on Moroccan poufs.  What fun!
So, while this may not have been the most risky show, understandable in this economy, seek and ye shall find exciting products and trends!
Beginning in October we will have a series of one-hour design webinars. Topics include:
  • Psychology of Color
  • Motifs and their Meaning
  • Accessories: Style and Substance
  • Historical Design Styles
These courses will be $40 each; 2 for $75 payment done through Pay Pal 
 Write to Me at:  
September is Back to School Issue!
Upcoming in the next issue...Elements of Design
Susan Slotkis
Profiles - Personalized Interiors
For more information on the interior design services,  consultations, seminars offered and industry expertise, visit the website
For answers to design and decorating questions, please write to 
Until next month,