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Originally published Friday, April 6, 2012 at 8:00 PM

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At Las Vegas furniture show, betting on 'metal with wood' trend

Furniture makers betting that consumers will want to surround themselves with time-tested designs.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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LAS VEGAS — "Metal with wood is big right now," said Cameron Cook of Four Hands.

The Texas-based company debuted its Irondale Collection during the winter furniture show in Las Vegas. Boasting an urban-industrial vibe, the Nash dining table with heavy-duty, brushed-iron base and washed gray wood top was just one of several pieces that celebrated this longtime marriage of materials in a bold way. The Gresham black metal chest with a bleached pine top had a slightly more refined look.

For the more traditional pairing of wood with metal, there is always the classic mahogany chest with metal drawer pulls. Lexington Home Brands (LHB) introduced Quail Hollow, a collection of new traditional looks from dining room to bedroom and everywhere in between.

Phil Haney, CEO of LHB, sees a move back to the comfort zone, especially for a generation that grew up in a center-hall colonial and anyone who wanted to. The Wellington finish in medium chestnut and slightly distressed on quartered mahogany will look familiar, yet fresh, when it hits showrooms this summer.

Bassett is another manufacturer betting that consumers will want to surround themselves with time-tested design. Celebrating its 110th anniversary, the company showed off dark molasses and restoration white finishes in its Wakefield Collection and expanded the line it labels "relaxed traditional" to all rooms.

Its newest collection, Moultrie Park, is "traditional but with a casual twist." This line was inspired by antique finds in Charleston, S.C.

Whether you like your classics to be uptight or eased up, it was clear that many companies weren't willing to roll the dice in Vegas when it came to design. Bassett's Palmetto Collection in plantation hardwoods and hickory veneers trended more toward the bold use of metal accents. Its dining table sits on a two-toned, metal ladder-style base.

Dovetail and Bramble made a play by undressing the dresser. Instead of dark wood finishes, or any real color, these two companies showed the new naked in furniture.

Bramble's Charleston buffet in a driftwood finish can be used as a base for the master bathroom's double sinks, in the dining room or as a focal point in the entrance hall.

Dovetail's Alegra two-drawer dresser has all the lines of a very formal piece, but is crafted of reclaimed elm in a smoked finish. The hardware in the showroom was green, like aged copper.

The furniture maker also paired metal and wood in a more contemporary, no-fuss manner, using hand-forged metal frames around reclaimed Indian hardwood for its Dresden coffee table and sideboard from the Nantucket Collection.

Leaving the wood to the lumberjacks, Studio A used a bent-pipe frame and laced-back cowhide seat for its new Walton chair and footstool. No two are really alike.

For two that are very much alike, check out Zuo Modern's Union Jack chair and sofa. The popular British-flag design has been made even more so by the recent royal wedding and the upcoming Summer Olympics in London.

In decorative accessories, Phillips Collection is always a leader. The company's natural wood forms and river rocks have been popular, and now the volcanic-looking cement-mix statues and vases will be greeting guests in entrance halls around the world. For the wall, they showed oversized bow ties from a Brooklyn-based artist in black, red and white and mounted fish done in a rich silver leaf.

"The fish have been extremely popular," said Jason Phillips, designer and vice president.

They retail for about $399. So if you don't want to bother reeling in that wahoo, just mount this metal variety and save yourself the taxidermy headache. There is also a barracuda and a swordfish — a real school of design.

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