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Reviving the '30s.

It's a perfect match. One of the South's foremost high-end furniture manufacturers teams up with the trendiest department store on the East Coast to introduce the Savoy Collection -- a twist on the 1930s.

A 1930s'-inspired contemporary bedroom collection that drew raves at the Fall International Home and Furnishings Market was a "design and build" venture between Henredon Furniture Industries and Bloomingdales. The Savoy Collection, described as "stylish French moderne" by Paul Rosebrock, Henredon director of design, recently was featured in a special storewide promotion "Only at Bloomingdales."

The New York store's annual promotion usually highlights a single country and features merchandise throughout the store that is available exclusively at Bloomingdales. This year's promotion focused on American and imported furniture and accessories set up in model rooms with fanciful Big Apple themes such as: a Night on Broadway, Cocktails at Rockefeller Plaza, Tea on Long Island and the Promenade at Battery Park.

Ray Brandt, Bloomingdales home furnishings fashion director for furniture, who designed five of the model showrooms, also provided the initial design sketches for the new Savoy Collection. Displayed at Bloomingdales in the room setting "An Evening at the Waldorf-Astoria," Savoy invokes the last great age of luxury -- the elegance of the 1930s.

Henredon and Bloomingdales have restyled the bold appearance of much 1930s' furniture and given it a lighter, lower profile -- a fresh, but still elegant, look for the '90s. The use of white ash burls, American cherry and black-dyed obeche provides warmth and distinct color contrasts as well as glorious wood grains. The collection includes a modified sleigh bed, double-bow front dresser, single chest, nightstand, two armoires, a round mirror and an entertainment cabinet.

Although Savoy's September introduction was exclusively at Bloomingdales, the collection also is being marketed through select Henredon dealers across the United States. It was very well received in New York and at High Point, according to Brad Noe, Henredon vice president of sales, and is now in its second cutting. Rosebrock added that the '30s look has great potential for occasional and home theatre categories.

'Familiar is comfortable'

It is important when producing contemporary furniture that there be a certain familiarity to the design, Rosebrock said. The consumer needs to feel comfortable with it. Recognizable design elements of the '20s and '30s were the use of rich materials -- ivory, mother-of-pearl, ebony, amboyna -- and bold shapes -- the Hollywood or Miami look. Rosebrock stated, however, that Savoy is not Hollywood or Miami, but a softer, more refined style. "When we began work on this collection, it was important to achieve a certain continental look," Rosebrock said. "I was concerned that it not be overly Art Deco.

"There is just enough of the familiar in Savoy to make people comfortable with what is essentially a rather avant garde look," Rosebrock said. "It makes a nice statement for the 1990s," he added. "We are seeing more of that look in upscale interiors -- big city apartments and affluent homes."

Henredon had plans for a French Moderne-style series for some time, Rosebrock said. After conversations with Carl Levine, Bloomingdales senior vice president, the two companies discovered they were on the same design track and agreed that the time was right to follow this style direction.

Brandt said, "Bloomingdales has always been in the forefront of fashion trends, and the '20s-'30s era is our look. The image of the '30s? It is very rich. Savoy's ebony trim, luxurious woods and burls, and the quality craftsmanship give the overall image of what pieces from that era were all about.

From concept to reality

Brandt said he made some rough silhouette sketches pulled from authentic pieces. These were given to Henredon to refine. Sizes and proportions rescaled by computer for today's market include king-and queen-size beds and an armoire or entertainment center designed for a 36-inch television. (Henredon's CAD is on-line with its engineering department.)

"The reality of manufacturing is an art form in itself," Rosebrock said. "There are always a series of compromises between manufacturing and the original intent." A series of cut line and offset design elements worked well in production. The line is 3/16 inches deep and 1/4 inch wide and is applied to both flat and curved panels. When cut off the face of a flat panel, an imbalance was created. "So we increased the thickness of the flat doors and cut the line on both sides of the doors, in order to balance the panel. Curved panels tend to relax and change direction a fraction and the cut lines and offsets accommodate this slight deflection," Rosebrock said.

By using pre-dyed woods for the rails edging the head and footboards and corner posts, Rosebrock said a separate finishing process was eliminated. "We applied aniline-dyed black obeche veneer to the rail fronts and then applied the finish overall. This gave us distinct contrasts between the black and warm amber tones of the other woods and saved us the extra step of masking and dying the veneers black after they are on the product."

Ideas from inside or out

The design process at Henredon varies, with input of ideas coming from within and outside the company. Designs from internationally-known designers like Vicente Wolf and Andrew Collins Gibson and collaborations like the one with Ray Brandt of Bloomingdales alternate with the work of Rosebrock, senior designer Don Burgess and their in-house design staff.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:using the 1930's style in furniture design
Author:Garet, Barbara
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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