SW - Art PRO JNRawCaptured
Originally published in STIR®
Trends that got my attention at High Point and NeoCon.

The term "raw" identifies an object that remains in an unfinished, unaltered and often beautifully flawed state – whether it's a rough-cut piece of wood or an ancient, rusty metal object.

While this term has been thrown around here and there for the better part of two years now, it has finally hit main street and main stream with full force. This trend is an offshoot of the three "Rs" and, depending on what industry you're in, can mean many different things: reduce, reuse, recycle; reclaim, reuse, recycle; reclaimed, renewed, reborn – you get my drift. Any way you identify it, raw is clearly creating a buzz. And while in many cases it's the raw object's reclamation or rebirth that's showcased, the other side of the trend is a reveling in the beauty of decay, an appreciation for the physical characteristics of unrefined materials, and an admiration for the effortless pattern of organic materials.

High Point

While traversing the many blocks, buildings and showrooms at High Point, I was struck by the prevalence of this design aesthetic. This is not to say the tried-and-true, the elegant and expensive, the highly polished, and the well-appointed were absent by any stretch, but I was very happy to see a significant unpretentious note in the air, an appreciation for flaws and an overall enthusiasm for the unrefined.The raw design trend validates our colormix™ 2010 forecast, in which our "treasured palette" highlighted such elements as bleached and weathered woods; oxidized metal; and aging, distressed textures. To read the full story, click here. To learn more about what influenced and inspired the team in putting together the forecast, click here.

NeoCon

Moving on to NeoCon, two trends stood out for me this year. One was the identifiable "capture" of natural elements in translucent materials, such as panels and screens; the other was a design aesthetic centered around cocooning. Together, these trends are working toward solving a core human tension: our need to bring a little outside in – while keeping the outside out!

The wall tiles and panels I saw from la casa deco offer unique possibilities. This company specializes in manufacturing modular wall panels and tiles that showcase materials harvested from nature – including shells and mother of pearl. The panels create stop-in-your-tracks luster and translucency that can give a space natural opulence. The company's Pearlflex product is actually flexible and moldable, which opens up even more creative possibilities.

Another example of this trend is the Varia Ecoresin®line of panels from 3form. Manufactured with 40 percent recycled resin, these panels create wonderfully soft and textured effects. I loved 3form's Organics panels, which "suspend" natural materials – from thinly sliced bamboo to beargrass to larkspur – inside a translucent resin. You can even work with 3form to create customized translucent resin panels for your next project. They're gorgeous. To read a past story we ran about 3form, click here .

The other big trend at NeoCon was cocooning, and this was most visible in the privacy-seating modular "meeting pods" offered by manufacturers such as Steelcase and Herman Miller.

Privacy screens and workplace seating are becoming increasingly integrated. Check out Steelcase's Campfire Collection, for example. The newer conference-seating systems are portable and modular, with three-quarter-height walls angling over the top of each seat, increasing privacy and workplace focus. The effect was like sitting inside a mini soccer stadium – it would be impossible not to focus on the task at hand!

As for color, pink and turquoise were everywhere – colors we're featuring in our Sherwin-Williams colormix™ 2011 trend forecast. I was thrilled to see a turquoise very similar to Synergy (SW 6938) in 3form's panels, and furniture manufacturer Haworth was making generous use of a pink similar to our Exuberant Pink (SW 6840).

If you haven't had a chance to explore our Sherwin-Williams color trend forecast, be sure and stop by our Facebook page, where we've created a special tab for you to do so.