The Designer Beat

Spot On

A local designer dishes on her role as a prestigious Style Spotter for High Point Market and offers up the latest design trends

By Kara Cox

Fifteen years ago, I attended my first High Point Market as a young product editor for a home furnishings industry trade publication, Home Accents Today. I learned to sort through the thousands of new product introductions that flood each market to formulate overall market trends and emerging style directions. During my time as an editor, I discovered a love for interiors and a desire to be on the creative side of the industry. I returned to school at Randolph Community College to obtain a second degree, this time in interior design (my first was in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill), and after training under Lindsay Henderson Interiors in Greensboro, opened my own design firm, Kara Cox Interiors, in 2010. I haven’t missed a High Point Market since that first visit in 2004, but this year I returned, not as an editor or interior designer (though I still managed to fit in shopping for clients while I was there), but as one of eight individuals who are officially designated as international Style Spotters who represent the High Point Market Authority.

Granted, the title may sound a bit lofty, but the several interior designers who serve along with me are there for a reason. Before Market begins, we peruse new product introductions and receive information from manufacturers about new collections and special initiatives launching at Market.

During the market, we work to see as many exhibitors as possible during a five-day period and are tasked with curating the top style trends in the marketplace. We then share these trends at a panel discussion at the end of Market to inform buyers and manufacturers of what is coming ahead in the next few months in the home furnishings industry. As a North Carolina native, I have a vested interest in the strength of High Point Market and our state’s furniture industry. Not only was it an honor to be selected as one of these eight style ambassadors for 2019, it was an amazing experience to represent the design industry at that level. In the year ahead, I look forward to bringing the trends and new intros to my client work that has inspiration in art, antiques and vintage pieces, not to mention the craftsmanship of local artisans. When I create crisp, tailored and timeless interiors for my clients, I plan to incorporate some of the following trends I spotted at Market this spring:

Brown is Back

This spring marked the return of warm neutrals with the resurgence of brown in home furnishings color trends. Wood tones and fabrics alike have been warming to more traditional colors of walnut, caramel and tan. Gray is gone and cerused finishes (i.e., those that are manipulated in such a way as to bring out the wood grain) are giving way to waxed or oiled wood tones. Brown is pairing again with blue in all tones, from fabrics to art. Warm neutrals are not only seen in a strengthening of traditional finishes, but also bring a natural element to upholstery and case goods, mixed with materials like woven rattan and caning. This return to brown is not defined by your grandmother’s mahogany table but will pair nicely with it.

Curves Ahead

Rounded forms have returned to home furnishings in every category: from upholstery, case goods and decorative accessories. Upholstery is highlighting these curves in rounded backs and shapely arm details. Case goods are rounding edges and taking away corners. Even hardware details are featuring curved open handles, and circles are repetitive motifs across categories. These shapely curved introductions are softening the edges and blurring the lines.

Sculptural Quality

Trending this spring were detailed geometric shapes found in many case goods from table bases to intricately carved millwork. The standard nail head became a pyramid shape, cabinet doors created interest with carved geometric shaped doors rather than highlighting the standard hardware. Even table legs took a turn with stacked geometric shapes creating a form with interest from the base up. The larger trend here is toward detailed artisan quality across the industry and a move away from super sleek lines. Companies are highlighting shape and form with a high design quotient and artisan level detailing. 

As a true lover of the arts, Kara Cox serves as a board member of Greenhill N.C., the center for North Carolina art, and regularly travels to galleries and art museums searching for inspiration — when she isn’t on the back of a Harley with her husband, Stephen, running her two kids to various activities, or entertaining friends with vintage china, her grandmother’s silver and a good Vidalia onion dip from the local deli. To see examples of her work, go to page 48 or 

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