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Design Notebook | Look to the past to find new looks

Traveling to the High Point Furniture Market in North Carolina has always been one of my favorite trips of the year.

It is truly a case of sensory overload with new products, beautiful fabrics and the latest designers. This year’s trip did not disappoint. The market was alive.

As with all style trends, there is a time for bringing back some of the classic designs, and this seems to be the year. There has been an underlying theme in home décor in recent years towards form and function. These simple concepts have been overlooked in manufacturing and design for some time. There is a reason that you don’t find a 110-inch sofa in anyone’s antique collection. Looking to the past and archiving, or what I call “deco diving,” is something that designers and manufacturers are leaning toward. It is a step in the right direction, as there are some things that simply do not go out of style.

I feel consumers are less about the foo foo and more about the function. Less about the latest and greatest but more about having a story to tell. Antiques and heirlooms tell a story. The archives teach us about our past. There are few new designs in home décor that have not been, at the least, influenced by a previous design. Not only do antiques have a wonderful acquired look and feel to them, but in most cases they give us insight to our past and a different time.

One of the best examples of what I call “deco diving” or archiving is Hickory Chair. The North Carolina furniture company is in the midst of celebrating its 100th anniversary. It continues to bring about progressive furniture from designers such as Thomas O’Brien, Suzanne Kastler and Alexa Hampton. However, this year, it is paying respect to Albert Sack and his amazing contribution to the antique community. His invaluable knowledge and eye for classic design is unparalleled.

Hence, the “Albert” sofa is presented this year. It was selected from his extensive archives and represents his eye for classic lines that are as important today as when they originated (1785-1820) in the Federalist period. Pair this sofa in some of the newer fabric and color trends that I call the moody neutrals and this sofa from the past will take on a vibrant, hip, new life. On a more tangible, note, don’t hesitate to “deco dive” in your own archives. Don’t be quick to toss out the old. Classic design and practicality are hard to find. Take your time and get creative before you take things to the curb.

For instance, I have a pair of French chairs in storage. These have not seen much action lately, but I knew they would resurface eventually. I found the perfect opportunity when my daughter, Lily, was ready for a new look for her bedroom. I stripped the fabric and repainted the wood frame in a high-gloss white.

I came across a very fun, whimsical faux animal print fabric. It went from storage to the focal point in Lily’s new room. She loves it, and the classic French chair has found a new purpose.

Take a page out of your own archives and don’t hesitate to “deco dive.” I imagine there are things that you have in your own home that can take on a new life and a new purpose. There is always something special about a piece that honors the past.

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