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A personal touch daring pieces are a hit with consumers...

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  • 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