Anyone who attended last month's Preview Show in Chicago, International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in Atlanta or this month's Las Vegas Market were able to see a sampling of the new products that will be presented next month at the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market.
Orders being made through the end of the year will influence what consumers can consider next season for furnishing their outdoor areas, sunrooms, recreational rooms or covered porches.
Steve Lowsky, president of Pride Family Brands, summed up the outdoor room by saying it can be a living room, a dining room or a family room. His company will continue to promote it as the most important room in the house, even if it's located outside the enclosed structure.
Inside Casual Living's August issue, you'll see the casual industry's latest Design Excellence nominees as well as profiles of four innovative designers who are testing the boundaries of creating casual furnishings that can deliver comfort and define individual style while withstanding the challenges of outdoor elements.
During the first part of this month, the world's attention was focused on London, not only on the performances of Olympic athletes but also on their competition uniforms and footwear, some of which were created by all-star designers representing their native countries. You may have noticed Stella McCartney's redesigned red, white and blue Union Jack stretched over Britain's competitors. Ralph Lauren lent his talent to creating some of the U.S. team uniforms while Giorgio Armani shared his skills to assist the Italian Olympians.
Having such big-name design talent behind each team must have added to the athletes' sense of pride and accomplishment. Hopefully, each new uniform design delivered comfort as well as boosted team spirit and confidence.
Part of the challenge each designer faced was to incorporate the latest technological improvements and performance materials to provide athletes with as much competitive advantage as possible without sacrificing aesthetics. That's one of the challenges casual furnishing designers face constantly as they create high-quality furnishings that can provide indoor looks and comfort while at the same time enduring the punishment of ultraviolet rays, heavy rain, mildew, strong wind or other weather-related elements.
Retailers and designers may identify with the sentiments of Olympic athletes who said they were excited that internationally renowned designers were creating new uniforms for them and hopeful the handsome designs and modern technology would provide them with an edge.
Like the Olympian athletes, buyers and sellers in the casual furnishings niche need to feel confident not only in the new looks but also the constantly evolving technology being developed. With the right combination of talent, performance and design, team players can feel confident of having a competitive advantage.
Here's hoping the latest design will give you the edge to bring home the gold!