November 03, 1991|By Beverly Hall Lawrence | Beverly Hall Lawrence,Newsday
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High Point, N.C. — Americans, some appliance makers believe, are ailing of uming the lifestyles of long-dead Europeans and are growing apathetic with the expensive, ball-and-claw accoutrement cranked out for ancestors actuality in the centermost of the country’s appliance industry.
In the past, manufacturers tended to chase a safe, emblage mentality, comatose on long-held notions that Americans crave appliance with the actual candor and affair of French or English aristocrats.
While there was abundant in this aforementioned old vein, artlessly acquired and reupholstered, at the bounce bazaar aftermost week, the best contemporary collections explored what it agency to be American. The goal, it seems, is to ascertain American style.
Forward-looking manufacturers are gluttonous to cut the umbilical cords of acceptable European design, adorable instead into America’s own accomplished for inspiration. They’ve apparent a abundance trove: from patterns of pre-Columbian aboriginal cultures to adumbration of cowboys of the frontier, from the handcrafted traditions of the arts and crafts movement of the 1800s through the deco-ish ’30s to the architecturally aggressive appliance of America’s admired Frank Lloyd Wright.
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Defining an across-the-board American appearance opens a Pandora’s box of issues for High Point that challenges manufacturers to acquire the absoluteness of a multiracial, multicultural citizenry with capricious tastes and added non-genous angle of agriculture spanning “Ozzie and Harriet” to “When Harry Met Sally.”
What defines America? That depends on whom you ask.
According to Stanley Furniture, a usually calm manufacturer, the new American appearance about addresses country bodies who appee to alive like burghal ociation or burghal ociation who appee to alive the country lifestyle. In one of the best talked-about explorations of American style, Stanley offers “Urban Primitive,” the aboriginal aculating of appliance by Robert Sonneman, a New York-based lighting artist for 25 years.
The aculating of board pieces in red oak, with walnut inlays, brownish accouterments and upholstery of alloyed fabrics application Southwestern, country and batikish motifs, includes 58 styles. Unashamedly fatigued from the best to accept afflicted American architecture — Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Stickleys, Charles Limbert and others — the aculating is honest and simple with accent on quality, handcrafted architecture and aboveboard materials.
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Today’s consumers appee to see themselves reflected in their furniture, Mr. Sonneman believes, and the old offerings of High Point don’t accommodate abundant diversity. “The browning of America has provided blush and arrangement from Africa, Asia and South America that will appulse the American aesthetic. Geometric and archaic — ethnically aggressive patterns — will become added mainstream,” he said.
Many manufacturers may not accept gone as far as Stanley in defining American appearance and bringing in flavors of new immigrants from South America and Asia, but Thomasville Industries alien “American Country” and new fabrics in archaic patterns; Drexel Heritage offered its “American Frontier” collection; Lexington Appliance Industries alien a aculating alleged “Weekend Retreat: America Returns to the Simple Life”; and Henredon apparent the “American Artisan” aculating of active room, dining allowance and bedchamber designs.
Reactions from abundance buyers were mixed. Some had annihilation but acclaim for those manufacturers who seemed to be breaking from the herd. Then there were the skeptics, who alleged Stanley’s airing “Frank Lloyd Wrong.”
Naysayers acquire that multiculturally aggressive appliance architecture may be OK in New York, area “Urban Primitive” will admission in a bright accessible aperture at Macy’s in January, but admiration whether it will comedy in Peoria to middle-American tastes.
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Stanley’s chairman, Albert Prillaman, who acclaimed that about 250 food about the country already accept bought the collection, believes the furniture’s amount will be as adorable as the design. “Urban Primitive” pieces are priced amid $300 and $2,000.
Much ado additionally was fabricated of Masco’s Lineage Home Furnishings. According to its research, American appearance avalanche into three categories based on lifestyles — “Gracious Living,” affected and formal; “Casual Living,” a added relaxed, adequate style; and “Special Places,” for individualists who appee to clothier things to their own lives.
Just as Ethan Allen and Pennsylvania House created the arcade abstraction in the aboriginal 1980s, ambience up vignettes in food to advertise furniture, Lineage will set up pavilions about its three lifestyles. Appliance and accessories are theatrically displayed with appropriate lights, music and alike smells to advice shoppers ane pieces in their own homes.
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