Homecrest rediscovers design roots with Circa60 Collection
Larry Thomas -- Casual Living, June 5, 2006
|Homecrest's Circa60 Collection includes a cafe chair featuring thin, graceful lines, dynamic proportions and a light form.|
Homecrest will debut its Circa60 collection to casual and outdoor furniture dealers during the annual Premarket event, set for July 10-13 at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. A steel grouping inspired by iconic Homecrest sculptural wire designs popularized in the 1960s, Circa60 features thin, graceful lines, dynamic proportions and light forms. The collection was designed for homeowners seeking a vintage-inspired look with a fresh, modern aesthetic. "Circa60 is a breakthrough collection that clearly demonstrates Homecrest's commitment to elevating the design element in today's outdoor furniture industry," said John Sundet, Homecrest president and CEO. "The fact that it draws upon our own rich design heritage for its inspiration further intensifies our excitement. This design-driven new collection reproduces the nostalgic essence of our classic collections and updates them with chic, trend-forward flair." The Circa60 collection includes a cafe chair, barstools with or without backs, and coordinating cafe tables and bar tables available in 30-inch and 36-inch diameters. The sleek, willowy frames are constructed of rugged steel tubing that is lightweight, durable and easy to maintain. A stackable chair and stool design enables convenient storage. The stool seat and back panels are contoured for comfort, and feature a laser cut "polka dot" pattern that resembles vintage fabrics and circular styles, which are once again fashionable. A removable thin seat pad with fast-drying, mildew-resistant Dacron filling is an available option for added comfort. The seat pads can be customized from a selection of more than 100 fabric options. Available in a choice of 11 frame finishes, the collection also can be custom-designed with a combination of up to three different finishes used on the frame, seat panel and back panel for added panache.
Then and Now: Sustainable Design Always In Vogue
Homecrest founder Mert Bottemiller was a tireless inventor and designer whose timeless styles, such as the vintage Chiquita collection, are the basis for Circa60. Bottemiller was an electrical engineer by training and a creative inventor by nature. In fact, Homecrest evolved from Bottemiller's original inspiration to build a better hassock (ottoman). Prior to founding the company, he had received several mechanical design patents and continued to pursue those even after founding and running Homecrest. Family members recall that he was constantly evaluating furniture for designs that work and look better, and often awoke in the middle of the night with new design ideas.
With today's strengthened emphasis on design and the growing trend for classic retro designs, Homecrest leaders knew the original portfolio of popular collections developed by Bottemiller was as far as it needed to look to inspire a new, authentic Homecrest collection.
Collaborative Effort Gives Birth to Circa60
Homecrest commissioned Minneapolis-based product development firm, Leisure Design, to collaborate with its product development and production teams to create a collection that would fuse the nostalgic mood and forms of retro designs with today's modern styles, marketplace needs and production processes.
"Cost and durability factors indicated a new product line should be composed of steel," said Leisure Design's Neil Amundsen, project designer. "This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it ultimately contributed to the collection's wispy, slight forms, which are a perfect fit for today's sophisticated, style-driven consumers."
The seat and back panel's laser cut polka dot pattern was inspired by a polka dot upholstery pattern offered on one of Homecrest's original clam chairs, which also proved to be a strong tie to the circular designs and forms being revived in today's pop culture, Amundsen said.
Homecrest's Circa60 planning team also considered production processes to manage costs and meet today's manufacturing regulatory standards. "The original Homecrest wire designs from the 1960s were steel wire formed and spot welded at each intersection, with dozens of welds per chair, using special tooling the company had developed," said Pat Conlin, Homecrest's director of engineering. "This process is labor-intensive and costly in today's manufacturing environment. Circa60's laser cut steel panels replicate that original light, airy design while stainless steel riveted joinery replace the complex welds." The steel is primed and powder coat painted for a durable finish, and the cleaning and finishing uses an environmentally friendly water-borne system that surpasses today's EPA standards. Like the Chiquita collection and other Homecrest collections from decades past, Circa60 will be manufactured in its Wadena, Minn. factory. The new collection will be available for Spring 2007, with shipment starting in Fall 2006.