Design icon Joe Ruggiero shares how his observations have shaped his new High Point Market collections.
It’s one month before High Point Market and Joe Ruggiero is on the road, speaking to scores of interior designers at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown (Washington D.C.) about the trends influencing his designs and what’s ahead for the interiors of tomorrow.
The host of a popular HGTV series Homes Across America (1994-2004), former creative director at Ethan Allen, creator of a nationwide series of IdeaHouses, and designer of upholstery, textiles, lighting, bedding, and outdoor furniture for companies such as Miles Talbott, Sunbrella, and Woodard/Craftmade, Ruggiero is certainly in high demand. Renown for combining affordable merchandise that pairs classic elegance with clean, contemporary style, Ruggiero is also astute in keeping a pulse on the desires of homeowners.
So what’s on the collective minds of consumers these days? “We are seeing a groundswell of support for Made in America goods,” he remarks. “People are becoming cognizant of it now. They are looking for good value and for products that do not have shoddy workmanship.” For that reason, Ruggiero states that Made in America merchandise is increasing in demand. “A lot of the companies I work with are made in America. It’s a good story to tell because there is a lot of pride in having something made in the USA. It’s something that I want to be associated with. All of our partners are ingrained in their local communities,” he adds. In fact, Ruggiero has called his latest collection “American Spirit,” which will debut at the Miles Talbott furniture showroom (1690 English Rd) at the Spring High Point Market. Ruggiero also has a licensed fabric line at Sunbrella®, a company with fabrics that are fully recyclable, require no dyeing that produces wastewater, and has received GREENGUARD and Skin Cancer Foundation certifications. (Miles Talbott utililzes Sunbrella fabrics.)
Ruggiero is confident that his domestically made goods will resonate with customers and has divided his designs into several trend stories that reflect some of his favorite metropolitan areas in the country. The groupings are indicative of the colorways that he sees becoming consumer favorites this year.
For Sutton Place, inspired by the Manhattan enclave on the East River, Ruggiero features a window pane pattern called Venice Dove that incorporates a tie-dyed effect. As a complementing pattern, Embargo Dove offers a scrolling effect that recalls grillwork from the tony neighborhood. Above all, Ruggiero says this grouping is about bread-and-butter neutrals that will look at home in any setting.
“What I see people wanting these days is more of the base colors for their furniture – the offwhites, the taupes, and beiges,” he explains. “They are going with the basics in upholstery, but then pumping it up with colorful accessories, such as a wardrobe of pillow covers. I go through my fabric reports weekly and that is what’s selling. People see their furniture as an investment.” And, as such, Ruggiero says they will play it safe with pieces that they are going to live with for many years. “The best way for homeowners to update a room – especially in a soft economy – is to change the wall colors and add new artwork,” he advises.
In his Pacific Heights palette, which reflects the San Francisco bay area, Ruggiero presents shades of gray in patterns such as Sax Charcoal and Caravan Fossil. Both of those patterns boast recycled fiber content, which is also an appealing attribute to consumers. Another partner company, Textillery® Weavers manufactures its handwoven throws in its Indiana factory. For the Pacific Heights collection, Textillery has employed gray-toned Sunbrella yarns in a tight weave that mimics the feel of cashmere.
Harbor Springs, a charming waterfront community nestled along the deepest harbor in the Great Lakes, inspired Ruggiero to incorporate the all-American look of blue jeans. The Sax herringbone pattern appears in the color Denim, featuring accents of orange and yellow stitching that evoke the aesthetic of America’s famous legwear.
For the Brentwood group, named for the celebrity-filled neighborhood in Los Angeles, Ruggiero selected soft mist colors in a monotone palette. The pattern Sax Mist appears in this group as a tiny herringbone that gives the appearance of a solid. Caravan Mist, which is a simple three-stripe look, adds diversity to the group.
In a previous collection, Ruggiero experimented with a process that puts his own photographs of water scenes and succulents onto Sunbrella canvas. Look for some new additions to that series at this month’s High Point market