Printer Friendly

Making tracks for the Old West.

The Fall International Furnishings Market saw manufacturers jumping on the Wild West style trend and then riding off into the sunset in good spirits following one of the most upbeat High Point shows in recent memory.

A funny thing happened at the International Home Furnishings Market in October. Visitors strolled in, glanced around and suddenly realized they were not in Kansas anymore -- or North Carolina either. Those forays into Lodge and Rustic that had been building up over the last few markets had become a stampede. Thundering hoof beats and a cloud of dust signaled the arrival of FRONTIERLAND!

High Point's Wild West is a full-blown Disney-style fantasy offering lifestyles galore from those thrilling days of yesteryear. No opportunities have been overlooked in carrying out the Western theme: denim, cowhide and flannel upholstery; horn and antler chandeliers, chairs and table bases; birch-bark and peeled-pole chairs; Native American bowls and blankets; saddles and spurs; lariats and leather. It is all here, hauled in covered wagons, of course.

Whether this frontier spirit will last longer than the Gold Rush is anyone's guess, but right now, more than a few manufacturers are jumping on the wagon train and heading West.

American Country West

Lexington Furniture spent two years researching and rounding up American Country West, an 80-piece collection of bedroom, dining, occasional and upholstered furniture that is one of its most ambitious introductions. Lexington's design staff worked with Mary Emmerling, author of American Country and American Country West, for style sources, then tied in with trendsetter GuildMaster for a coordinated collection of some 300 cowboy-inspired accessories, accent furniture and lamps.

American Country case goods are left natural with mineral streaks and knots considered a plus, or they are painted in buckskin, saddle, crimson, storm blue or prairie green. But all the natural-finished and rustic-painted case goods were over-shadowed by one tall country armoire that was painted black and white and resembled cowhide. An eye catcher in the same vein as Ralph Lauren's tartan plaid high-boy, this was more fun and a lot less presumptuous.

Big Sky Country

The Lane Co.'s new collection Big Sky Country has been endorsed by the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. President Doug Lane said, "In developing Big Sky Country, we tried not to get too cute. We also tried to keep 80 percent of the styles basic, so that retailers could make their displays more or less Western as they choose. Western is definitely whatever you want it to be."

One thing Big Sky Country is not is oak. The 70-plus piece collection features Ponderosa pine solids and veneers with a complex, soft-sheen antique finishing process that includes physical distressing, worm holes, cracked lacquer, glazing and hand burnishing.

Cedar chests, including a 42-inch-high model with two working drawers; Texas door tables with iron strap corner supports; accent pieces; bedsteads with massive turnings; dining room and upholstered pieces are stars of the collection. Lane calls it a little bit nostalgic and very comfortable. Lane's Bonnie Peterson declared that it has Texas written all over it.


In an unprecedented departure from its major Heartland Oak and Tidewater Cherry programs, Tell City Chair Co. introduced Trails, an eclectic 64-piece collection of country furniture with Adirondack, Shaker, Mission and 18th century influences. This new direction for Tell City is designed to fit in with the "lifestyle approach to merchandising," according to Doug Fenn, president. "We've seen more and more consumers buying items, rather than suites of matched styles and finishes."

Species used are cherry, oak, maple and rough hickory, alone or in combination. Adirondack chairs, hall costumers and tables are made of slender hickory logs left natural or peeled of their bark and bleached or painted. The hickory is harvested in winter when the sap is down and the bark is tight, according to Ronnie Harper, director of manufacturing.

When a company traditionally is very fussy about finishing, it must be painful to add character marks and wear sanding to brand-new pieces, but Tell City bit the bullet and aged its furniture expertly. Wear sanding shows up in logical places, like the middle of a chair stretcher where you rest your boots.

Old Salem reproductions

Is there room in the marketplace for yet another collection of authentic reproductions? Lexington Furniture and The World of Bob Timberlake have issued 17 reproductions and several adaptations of furniture made in either Salem, N.C., or Bethabara, N.C., during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Old Salem Collection is billed as a tribute from Lexington and artist and furniture stylist Timberlake to "the heritage of colonial settlement and the spirit of Moravian ideals."

"We are not trying to freeze history," said Lexington's Don Greeson, "but to get back to basics. The designs are timeless, inspired by pieces that have survived 200 years." Among these are a corner cupboard in buttermilk blue, a two-drawer chest in tiger maple, a Windsor bed, a walnut bedstead with shaped "wings" to shelter a child's head from drafts, and dressers with multiple drawers inspired by Moravian spice chests. A recurring design motif is the Philphot, a symbol that is similar to a four-bladed propeller and is the Moravian sign for "Welcome," according to Greeson.


Ready-to-Assemble furniture buyers can bypass that familiar scenario of "Insert Bolt X Into Hole Y," with Velatch, a revolutionary fastening system presented at High Point by O'Sullivan Industries. Industrial-strength Velcro hook-and-loops strips, used in place of cams, nuts, bolts, glue and assorted tools, cut assembly time by at least 75 percent and frustration by 99 percent, the company estimates.

Integrity and stability of the Velatch system is said to equal or exceed traditional nuts-and-bolts assembly. Industrial Velcro is not the same product used on clothing and footwear and is not designed for repeated fastening and unfastening (cycling). Once in place, the panels can be separated, but with difficulty by running a thin flat tool such as a putty knife between the Velcro sandwich, according to Craig Mengel who worked with O'Sullivan in developing the idea over the past year. Mengel added that the next generation of the product will be designed for repeated cyclings.

Among Bush Industries' October introductions were home entertainment centers, office armoires, vertical computer work-stations and single-door library/speaker cabinets for home theater use. All incorporate the company's Time-Saver Assembly system. David Messinger, senior vice president of sales and marketing, said the system is "remarkably easy to follow. We have pre-assembled hardware and rails and packaged key product components in the order in which they are needed for assembly."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Design Lines; the Wild West motif of the Home Furnishings Market in Oct 1992
Author:Garet, Barbara
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Previous Article:Choosing a tool service.
Next Article:Red Oak: a plentiful species.

Related Articles
Renovation completed at Bayport 1 in NJ.
Flying high.
Mediterranean revisited.
Furniture stores move to SoHo. (Retail New York).
Fall high point market: new designs give romance a whirl: European romance combined with American retro to give new looks to residential furniture.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters