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Casual Trends Report

While woven products surged ahead in 2005, other categories following closely behind are expected to make a splash at this month's Casual Show and beyond.

This year is expected to be another big one for wicker and woven designs, due mostly to better product recognition on behalf of consumers. Deep seating and action pieces are still going strong, as traditional pieces make way for transitional and contemporary looks, mostly in darker finishes. Generally speaking, urban, contemporary looks will be the jackpot across furniture designs in 2006, as will recycled, reclaimed and vintage looks, especially in the garden category.

Mixed-media pieces helped lagging wood and iron sales. While cast aluminum still eats into iron sales, many retailers have said deep seating, bar height groups and alternative tabletop have helped keep wrought iron sales alive. Wood proved to be a mixed bag for retailers due to poor sales, distribution disagreements and shipment problems, but like the iron category, mixed-media products, especially a marriage of wood and wicker, have helped keep the category selling. Category trends include larger tables, storage pieces, deep seating and Adirondacks. Many manufacturers plan to expand their wood collections in 2006, rather than introduce brand new lines.

Offerings beyond traditional dining sets were highlighted in 2005. Modular and sectional seating arrangements were touched upon by a couple of manufacturers last year, and are expected to be a mainstay. Accent pieces like those found in Laneventure's At Home in Tuscany Collection and Rock Wood Casual's and Lloyd/Flanders' lines added chutzpah to the outdoor living trend, and will continue to do so moving forward.

Industry leaders have spoken about the lines being blurred between the indoors and outdoors over the last few years, but it has never been more evident. Furniture, rugs, and especially fabrics designed for the outdoors, are actually appealing to homeowners for use not on their decks, patios and sunrooms, but their high-traffic living areas inside the home.

Wall decor from companies like WeatherPrint and RainSafe Images have made an impression, but nothing beats the outdoor rug category as of late. Outdoor rugs are emerging this year like outdoor lighting did a couple of years ago, as many manufacturers expand or add the line to their offering. Tyndall Creek Furniture is just one example, as the company expands its rugs to more than 80 SKUs in Chicago this month. The HammockSource smartly transferred its DuraCord fabric to a line of outdoor rugs as well.

Fabrics this year will continue to wow with ocean hues and red shades in the forefront, but with a softer edge. Black and white is on the horizon as well. Geometric designs may overplay stripes, while tropical themes remain popular. Polka dots are expected to make a comeback, while interior-like fabrics such as chenille and weatherproof leather are introduced.

Pet products have been a success for many home accents stores, and Veneman Collections was right to introduce its Coral Oasis Pet Bed to its 2006 lineup. Though the category may not seem like a sure bet for the casual industry, it doesn't hurt to add pet-friendly product to retail stores for add-on sales.

Brown Jordan International's Harmony turned heads at last year's Casual Show, and the continuation of day bed-styled lounges will be evident. TUUCI will introduce its Bali Lounge at the Casual Show and Terra Furniture will bring its new Chelsea Double Chaise to market.

   Combining shade options with a double chaise like Chelsea by Terra Furniture, allows consumers more versatility with outdoor living.
 Wicker and deep seating continue to be the leader in outdoor furnishings.  
   The pet craze can't be ignored, and Veneman Collections hasn't with its Coral Oasis Pet Bed.
 Innovative products, like this day bed from Laneventure, keep the casual industry evolving.  
   The HammockSource recently debuted a line of outdoor rugs, constructed of DuraCord fabric.

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