It's difficult to believe it's been a full year since my first trade show, the July 2012 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.
I can still recall vividly how in awe I was of everything when I first arrived at market - the artistry of the showroom displays, the beauty of the various collections, the earnest passion expressed by the winners of that year's ICON Honors.
I felt surrounded by creativity. And three Atlanta markets, two High Point Markets and one Las Vegas Market later, I still do. I recently returned from the summer Atlanta market, and I can confidently say the ingenuity that permeates this industry continues to impress me.
Here at the newly formed Progressive Business Media, I wear two hats - in addition to serving as an assistant editor with Home Accents Today, I'm also assistant editor of Casual Living, the Furniture Today Media Group's outdoor-focused publication. For Casual Living's August issue, I was tasked with writing a report about the state of the outdoor rug industry. After interviewing several rug vendors (who are also familiar faces to Home Accents Today readers), I'm in awe of how far outdoor rug production has come.
No longer are outdoor rugs strictly infused with neutral shades or tropical patterns. As Trans-Ocean President Charley Peck told me, outdoor rugs are now available in all manner of constructions, styles and colors, so long as the right materials are used to make it a fade- and mildew-resistant product.
"It's really transitioned from a design standpoint," he said. "They were very leafy and clearly belonged outdoors, but now they're just pretty rugs. We still have some designs that are more outdoor like the tropical leaf rugs, but we have some very traditional suzanis in the line. It really runs the gamut... The three key things to us that make it an outdoor product are it has to be 100% synthetic, the yarns have to be UV stabilized and if there's latex used, the latex has to be washable."
Manufacturing technology has evolved to the point that rug vendors can replicate popular indoor looks for outdoor environments at affordable price points, providing consumers with a fashion-forward accessory for their outdoor living spaces that they can easily maintain and replace as trends and tastes change.
"In terms of the construction, they're getting more and more sophisticated, kind of mimicking indoor rugs in ways," said Cyrus Loloi, principal with Loloi. "Our Enzo Collection has a high-low texture. It has a hooked base for most of the pattern and then on parts it's raised at the pile."
Below are just a few of my favorite indoor/outdoor styles that I encountered in Atlanta.
This Moroccan tile motif is part of Surya's indoor/outdoor Storm Collection. "If we see a chevron trend, an ikat trend, geometrics, lattice, Moroccan, we have to bring it outdoor," Surya President Satya Tiwari said. "Outdoor shouldn't be just a limited selection."
One of the most popular indoor/outdoor collections by Oriental Weavers is the Caspian line, which melds bold blues and greens with rich chocolate brown and smooth ivory.
Capel's new Finesse Collection of indoor/outdoor rugs includes this sharp honeycomb pattern in a soft persimmon colorway.
Vibrant medallions and botanical designs pop against the subtle scrollwork of the Terabithia Blue rug by The Rug Market America, giving classic gray a dose of colorful contrast.