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Archive for October, 2009

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Interior Design, Art & the Internet

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It seems it’s an obsession with me: real estate, design, art, and the Internet. After spending many years in the fine art business, I took a detour in 1996 to found BabyZone.com under the direction and support of my husband, an online veteran. Together we spent 10 years building it into a rich community and valuable destination for new and expectant parents.

In 2006 we were very fortunate to sell the company, and while I was figuring out my place in the world without BabyZone, serendipity seemed to strike. The founder of HomePortfolio, and a neighbor in our office space, asked us to get involved with his 12-year-old company. Given my background and personal interest in renovating our own home, I was instantly hooked.

Actually, I had always been a fan of HomePortfolio.com. It was founded in 1995—more than a decade before the design industry even realized it needed to be online. Additionally, homeportfolio.com was the first (Bostonians love to be the first!) to understand the importance of a robust product database in the interior design space—and by a long shot. The company has such a legacy there’s a book in print about it. What I didn’t know at the time was that the company was losing money and hadn’t updated its technology over the years.

But we thrive on challenge, so in October 2008, my business partner/husband and I brought in a new management team and new investors to revive Homeportfolio, just as the economy was crumbling around us. Over the last year, I have observed the industry from both a publishing/editorial perspective as well as a consumer in the space. Initially, I was discouraged that the interior design world has not advanced with current technologies. In my mind, educating consumers is the key to sales and success. Fortunately, it is catching up. Designers, manufacturers, and the people who drive this industry are realizing that the Internet is a great tool to communicate effectively and efficiently with clients. While the economic crisis has slowed the company’s growth, it has also been the impetus of positive change.

Consumer buying and spending habits have also changed. While our audience will always invest in quality products and services in their homes, their decisions will be more practical. The longevity, quality, and investment value of purchases will be taken into consideration. Excess spending is out of style and—similar to the mentality after the Great Depression—a memory of difficult times will result in a generation of fiscal awareness.

On a personal note, our home renovation project, which started with “just the kitchen,” has turned into a major renovation as we decided to paint the pad green and lower our carbon imprint.

I look forward to sharing industry observations and speculations from our perspective and I hope to include many anecdotal “learning moments” and future design finds as I move into the final stages of decorating our home.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Color Trends for Fall/Winter 2009

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What colors will be in store next fall? According to the Color Marketing Group (CMG), the leading international association of color design professionals, today’s hottest color trends are most influenced by two major issues: the economy and concern for the environment.

“Economic extremes lead to color extremes, too,” said Jaime Stephens, executive director of CMG, which has predicted color trends with remarkable accuracy for more than 45 years. “So we see many opposites. For instance, ecological concerns mean fabrics are being made with less dye, giving them an almost vintage look. So vintage colors look very right. On the other hand, exuberant economies in countries like China and India draw us to ethnic brights – sunny yellows, true turquoises, warm oranges. Both look very cutting edge.”

“Members tell us our dual instincts apply as well to technology,” she said. “We want to sit under a tree and read a book – with our BlackBerry nearby. We are drawn to old-culture décor – a Tuscan farmhouse kitchen – but we want state-of-the-art appliances in that kitchen. So we are drawn to both vintage hues and new bright colors.”

What‘s coming this fall?
According to the Color Marketing Group:

Both Extreme Matte and Very Shiny Gloss finishes – Look for lots of new special effects, patterns and textures, including black-on-black beading, stitching or embossing; bright metallics with a matte graphic overlay; stamped and foiled metallics and layering of similar colors.

The Return of Purple – Purple has moved from a blue-based lavender to a red-based purple verging on raspberry. The newest version is a true convergence of red and purple – a high-energy almost fuchsia-like color.

Super Reds and Oranges – A blue-based red in a sophisticated, complex shade that is really a fresher, lighter burgundy looks very right now. So does a passionate orange-y red that brings to mind the Summer Olympics in Beijing. And an intense, lipstick berry red (kissed by a touch of orange) makes a great accent color. Also, look for a soft new coral that is warm and pinked. It works well with neutral, brown and green shades.

Fresh New Grays – Gray has moved from metallics to fabrics to paint to home products. We’ve gone from granite, marble and stainless steel kitchens to gray on the walls, gray on upholstery. There are some wonderful new pale, lilac-y grays. And this fall, look especially for (1) a truly classic gray with undertones of no other color; (2) a silver with blue undertones, and (3) a very sophisticated green-cast smoky black.

Gray/Blue Greens – Green has been the most-used color over the last few years, as environmentalism went mainstream. Now, however, the newest greens are moving toward shades that are grayer and bluer. Green is trending away from yellow-based shades and moving toward blue-based shades. This fall, cool blue-greens will be everywhere. Some of the newest are so blue they almost read turquoise.

New Blues – Robin’s egg blues, so prevalent over the last couple of years, are fading out now. Softer blues are heading home. Look for pale, spa-influenced blues; spirited blues that are vibrant without being aggressive, and inky navy blues as an alternative to black. Finally, there is a bold new European-influenced blue that is showing up in laundry rooms and kitchen appliances.

Reprinted with permission from the Color Marketing Group