Many trends simmer away for years before coming to a bubble, while fads burst on the scene for a short time, comet-like, before dissipating quickly. Here’s a look at some solid, percolating trends that will affect the window coverings industry in years to come.
FIVE STAR LIVING, ÜBER LUXURY
The Five Star Living trend is a movement among wealthy consumers,
who are “trading up” per se, to try to look and live like
the true upper crust. This is driving the super rich to higher ground
in order to isolate themselves from these plutocratic wannabes—thus,
enabling the rise of Über Luxury.
The Five Star Living Trend, more likely applicable to your clientele,
can be seen, for example, in the movement toward a hotel lifestyle,
such as what is transpiring with The Westin hotel chain. What Westin
is doing is partnering with shopping venues (such as in my hometown
of Edina, MN, the high-end Galleria or downtown Minneapolis’
Gaviidae Plaza) by attaching a hotel/condominium development onto
a high-end shopping experience. Twenty-four hour concierge, dog walking
services, valet parking, plus accessibility to time-honored jewelers
such as Tiffany & Co., hometown decorating powerhouses such as
Gabbert’s, and established eateries all within an elevator ride
down to the main floor—as well as luxe hotel options for visiting
Whatever the affluent can do to separate themselves from the middle
class is important. Indeed, the middle class, as skewered by David
Brooks in The New York Times, has emerged as a “Wal-Mart leisure
class—devil-may-care middle-age slackers who live off home equity
loans and disability payments so they can surf the History Channel
and enjoy fantasy football leagues.” If the middle class is
headed for heady leisure, then the upper class needs something to
lord over them, thus Five Star Living.
An offshoot of this Five Star Living trend is Fifth Avenue, which
focuses on ornamentation and embellishment, represented in a discerning,
Note that Five Star Living luxuries don’t necessarily mean a
higher price, but most definitely mean superior quality, rare materials
and limited production. Watch for workrooms to step up production
of handmade and detailed draperies and other products that can’t
be found in regular showrooms, rare fabrics and even unusual wood
grains in hard treatment products to move to the forefront.
Recurring themes in Five Star Living and Fifth Avenue include:
• Colors: Rose, Turkish coffee, plum, taupe, silvery gray
• Textiles: Velvet, silk, damask
• Materials: polished
glass, marble, metallic surfaces
• Jewelry: Pearls, yellow
gold, colored gemstones
• Clothing: Clean, simple, elegant—think
Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan
• Interiors: Modern and clean with unusual but tasteful embellishments
As for Über Luxury, which mirrors the rise of the super rich’s
effect on the economic growth of a country, one could look at consumer
choices such as shopping in Dubai instead of New York or Paris; pop
stars hired for private parties; vintage wines with exorbitant price
tags; limited edition $500,000 timepieces; draperies hand-embellished
with ultra-expensive crystals and one-of-a-kind vintage furnishings
to lead the charge.
• Colors: Sable, cream, black and Rubino
(a raspberry hue) with high polishes and burnished finishes
Jewelry: Rare colored diamonds, such as the 1.73 carat red diamond
shown at Leviev in London
• Purchases: Property, hedge funds
• Interiors: Plenty of open space punctuated with extraordinary
furnishings and art
Interestingly, it was recently reported that rock group U2’s
Bono (see next paragraph below) just snatched “a badge of distinction
from the super wealthy” (credit: CBS News) by buying a minority
stake in Forbes Media, thus securing a picture of himself on the cover
of its flagship publication. Hopefully, in the accompanying feature
article inside, he will be discussing our next trend (also attributed,
in part, to him), which is . . .
Says U2’s Bono, “It’s sexy to want to change the
world. I’m calling it conscious consumerism for people who are
awake, people who think about their spending power.” So what
is it, then, that Bono hopes to accomplish by buying into one of the
most powerful media outlets in the world today? Time will tell.
In diamonds, ethical consumerism means purchasing a stone with a provenance
report. In clothing, it’s buying garments with alternative fibers.
In household products, it means selecting products that don’t
leech chemicals into the ground water and are manufactured with “green”
practices in place. In gardening, it’s the usage of “green”
pesticides, as well as planting gardens that benefit insects and animals.
In food, it means choosing organic. It’s buying a hybrid vehicle
instead of a Hummer.
Talk to your clients about how they wish to incorporate ethical manufacturing
practices and products into their interiors. Do they want reclaimed
wood floors, employing boards from ages past or perhaps cork—a
renewable resource that is not only environmentally sensitive but
also durable and beautiful? Does it mean constructing draperies from
organic cotton, jute or hemp?
Ethical consumerism’s recurring themes include:
Colors: Dusty shades of blue and lavender, as well as rosy browns
and night sky indigo, colors that draw inspiration from lush forest
• Jewelry: Yellow gold, coral, jade, animal motifs,
multi-strand beaded necklaces of citrine and amethyst
Materials: Cork or bamboo flooring, handmade tiles, woven grass shades,
• Textiles: Natural fibers such as cotton
or bamboo, coarsely woven fabrics, rough slub silk
Layered combinations and oversize knits bring a more disheveled, natural
look; slouchy trousers
• Interiors: Clean, earthy tones; a celebration of the Earth
through the use of natural elements such as plants, fire, fountains,
For the ethical consumer, buying is more than personal gratification
and fulfilling need within one’s own personal orb, it is also
about using money wisely to, in a small way, impact the world in a
EMERGING FASHION STYLES
It may also help to look at emerging fashion styles to chart the course
of tomorrow’s interior. On the forefront is a Heritage revival.
The styles of the 18th and 19th centuries will emerge as a strong
cultural megatrend in 2007, referencing the French Revolution. Note
Sofia Coppola’s newly released movie Marie Antoinette as a harbinger
with top couture designers such as John Galliano and Christian Lacroix
lighting the way, with fashion copycats following. This is much in
the way that Moulin Rouge affected moviegoers a few years back.
Fashion will be cued by French army uniforms, monograms and other
royal stylings (for both men’s and women’s clothing).
This trend will also influence home interiors in the form of chandeliers,
decorative wallpapers, embroidery and more ornate looks. Note that
brocade and lace will be popular not only on the runway but also in
Restraint, another huge trend in fashion, is all about tailoring and
sobriety; a fast U-turn away from the modern grunge or shabby chic
interiors so recently popular. Look for clean lines and architectural
tailoring not only in clothing, but also in interiors. No overstuffed
sofas or droopy draperies—box pleated top treatments and wood
blinds will be more likely.
A fad, but nonetheless a strong fad, is the movement toward morbid
glam—jewelry with skulls and razor blades, tote bags with images
of guns and spiders, T-shirts with iconic references to suicide. In
interiors, it is pairing black and white with red. Think also of the
lair of Vampirella—sexy, spooky and lacy as all get out.
Finally, as we all have probably seen, the 1980s are an important
fashion influence right now (it pains me to see my 15 year old daughter
dressing as I did in my youth, but I’m heartened by the fact
that she seems to wear everything better than I did, from the leggings
to the skinny jeans). The revival of the ’80s power suit is
approaching, too. How will this influence your window designs? It
might not hurt to pick up a DVD of Dallas, Dynasty or The Colby’s—take
a look at those interiors and then consider how you might wield your
new millennium interpretation on this old saw. Swags and pinch pleats
will resurge, as well as multiple treatment layers.
Kathleen Stoehr is the author of Dream Windows, Historical Perspectives,
Classic Designs, Contemporary Creations and Dream Floors, Hundreds
of Ideas for Every Kind of Floor, [both from Randall International,
2005]. She is also owner of Chemistry Creative, an editorial and graphic
design company in Minneapolis, MN. She can be reached at email@example.com.