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          Reporting on home decor encompasses a lot of real estate, including furniture, lighting, accessories, textiles, wall and floor coverings, kitchen and bath appliances, cabinetry, hardware, housewares and building products.

        For a global perspective, part of my routine the last decade or so has been tracking what's new at expositions in Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Dublin and Bologna, as well as High Point, North Carolina, Chicago, New York and Miami -- always with an eye to new prospects and design summits.

        Viewing thousands of introductions from year to year is a daunting task. And though some products are almost universally celebrated, deciding what to spotlight is a little like falling in love. Certain features resonate more to some than others. It could be a color. Or pattern. Or shape. It could be a concept. A texture. A technological marvel.

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        So much technology has changed in the last decade. LED lighting has fostered design creativity because it's smaller, more flexible and conducts less heat. Because it can be shaped, lighting can be more sculptural, especially eye-catching when it's designed for outdoor use. Pendant lights have morphed from tiny designs to a range of sizes and are now a go-to in decor because of their versatility and impact from hanging in multiples.

        Digital printing has made a huge impact on textiles, wallcoverings and porcelain tile, with amazing fidelity to imagery.

        Travel and ethnicity continue to inspire, either in motif or techniques. Textile artist Aliki van der Kruijs, for example, was fascinated with the texture and pattern of antique Japanese kimonos, and she played with them dimensionally -- on pots -- to develop VEER, a grid dimensional weave for Wolf-Gordon. At Kohler Co., kimono patterns depicting organic elements, such as waves, were translated into natural stone -- both honed marble and limestone. The material was etched using a 15th-century Italian technique called aquaforte, and the artisanal result is beautiful.

        Handmade, or the look of craft versus machine, still holds enormous appeal. Stitching, imperfections in glassware and uneven edges on pottery all lend charm.

        Many design cues come from fashion runways, especially those brands that also create product for the home. When New York-based interior designer Sasha Bikoff was tapped by Donatella Versace to create a present for the brand's new home collection at its storied palazzo in Milan during Salone del Mobile, she designed patterned carpeting in candy colors in a Memphis style to perfectly suit the furnishings. Her touch also graced the Versace boutique in Miami, and she orchestrated an installation (site of a fab party) featuring three pieces she designed -- chandeliers, a bed and a shapely chair, all inspired by the book "South Beach Stories," published by the family in 1993. It added to the excitement of Design Week during Art Basel.

        When the red-hot Virgil Abloh, artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear, who recently had a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, collaborated with Baccarat, chief executive Daniela Riccardi made no promises. "He wanted to create a chain in crystal," she says. She pretty much told him, "We'll see." But to everyone's pleasant surprise, it worked. His new crystal chandelier features a crystal chain, and it's pretty cool. Small accessory pieces also are part of the capsule collection.

        Home decor directions also are influenced by film styles and sets, art exhibits and lifestyle trends, such as wellness and sustainability. Travel continues to ignite interest in foreign or exotic locales. Motifs from Japan and Africa are particularly strong.

        One category that emerged in the past year is that of linear drawings, especially those depicting faces. Some were more classic, others more Picasso-esque, and the drawings have found their way onto lampshades, pillows, fabric and plates. At Roche Bobois, a new collection of rugs depicts faces inspired by the artist Jean Cocteau.

        Florals, palms and vegetation -- often powerful in uber scale -- as well as exotic, animal, geometric and other graphic prints feed choices for wall coverings and fabrics. And textures provide surface interest, especially in a monochromatic scheme.

        Nature continues to be a muse, and we honestly don't see that changing anytime soon. Organic materials (including lots of woven basketry and rattan, plus embellishments like coconut shell beads), drawing from nature's palette, and the incorporation of live plants into decor are continuing, with vertical walls perhaps gaining traction -- both indoors and out. While many like the concept, they fret the maintenance. Here's one solution: At Cersaie, the international tile show in Bologna, we saw a wall of foliage and pink roses that looked so incredibly realistic that visitors actually touched it to check it out. It was made up of porcelain tiles printed with stunningly vivid imagery in a 3D quality.

        The preferred overall look in furnishings is light -- not so much in physical, but in visual weight. Which is why wood finishes also are trending to the lighter side. The painted and stained gray that seemed to catch the fancy of kitchen cabinet manufacturers not so long ago seems to be waning in favor of warmer hues as well as colors. With the insistence of blue in all areas of home decor, it wouldn't be a stretch to see it emerge in kitchens again.

        Matchy-matchy has pretty much been banished -- even with metals. While gold (still with a bit of rose gold and copper hanging on) continues to win confidence, it's far more acceptable now to mix metals, especially silver and gold, even matte with shiny. A deft mix is what makes furniture pairings more attractive.

        And continuing to ramp up is the proliferation of performance fabrics. The no-fade, mildew- and stain-resistant materials now are produced by an enormous range of brands, some in tandem with Sunbrella or Crypton, the most well-known outdoor fabric specialists. Sophistication of design and suppleness, as well as choices of colors and patterns -- even luxe looks like velvet and leather -- are driving more consumers to consider them for indoors, especially in family rooms or high-traffic areas populated by children and pets.

        That's because most of us, regardless of style preferences, try to be practical. Whatever makes life easier sparks joy. Don't forget the clutter-free part. Thank you, Marie Kondo.

        Sources

        -- Bruce Andrews Design, 706-750-8188, www.bruceandrewsdesign.com

        -- Baccarat, 800-221-6330, www.baccarat.com

        -- Bisazza, 800-247-2992, www.bisazza.it

        -- Duravit USA Inc., 770-931-3575, www.duravit.com

        -- Empire Collection, 212-243-4993, www.empirecollectionrugs.com

        -- Etro Boutique, 212-317-9096, www.etro.com

        -- Hermes, 800-441-4488, www.hermes.com

        -- Ligne Roset, 312-846-1080, www.ligne-roset.com

        -- Moroso, 212-334-7222, www.moroso.it

        -- Ethnicraft USA, via Lekker Home, 877-753-5537, www.ethnicraftusa.com

        -- Kohler, 800-456-4537, www.us.kohler.com

        -- Moooi, 646-396-0455, www.moooi.com

        -- Versace Home, 888-721-7219, www.versace.com

        -- Paola Lenti, 619-850-9073, www.paolalenti.it

        -- Roche Bobois, 212-889-0700, www.roche-bobois.com

        -- Rosenthal, 800-596-3503, www.rosenthalusa-shop.com

        -- Thompson Traders, www.thompsontraders.com

        -- Visionnaire, 786-577-4370, www.visionnaire-home.com

        -- Wolf Gordon, 800-347-0550, www.wolfgordon.com

        -- Zoffany, 201-399-0500, www.stylelibrary.com

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        SIDEBAR

        Design Trends Set Sail Into '20 Upon New Winds

        So what about the new year? A few new directions in home decor are in place, ready to evolve. Some others are being talked up.

        -- Expect to see more matte black, especially in kitchens and baths. Black faucets call attention to form. Solid black sinks can be very dramatic, as in one asymmetrical design from Thompson Traders. And steel? Framework for porcelain vanities, taking a cue from furniture, also is compelling. One handsome design from Duravit features a slender frame that supports a white sink and shelf.

        -- Of course, we'll be seeing a lot of Pantone's color of the year: Classic Blue. Everywere. In every product category.

        -- The latest buzz has nothing to do with mid-century modern. Even though it has to do with millennials. It's been dubbed "grandmillennialism." It's all about a thirst for nostalgia, inspired by the cozy feel of their grandparents' homes. It's their spin on traditional, with patterns a little chintzy, or at least with chinoiserie motifs. It's a decorating style that will dose out warm and fuzzy. Stay tuned.

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        CAPTIONS AND CREDIT

        (NOTE: These photos are for ONE-TIME use ONLY. At Home photos, with the proper credits, are to be run ONLY with At Home stories. Conversion to black and white is OK.)

        Caption 01: Virgil Abloh designed an elegant limited-edition Crystal Clear capsule collection for Baccarat, which debuted in the brand's new boutique bar and lounge during Design Miami week. Chandelier shades, vessels and drinking glasses are ribbed, with a frosty look, and the piece de resistance is the integration of crystal chains. Credit: Baccarat

        Caption 02: Designer Sasha Bikoff channeled the postmodernism of the Italian Memphis movement for the multipatterned rug she designed for an installation at the Versace palazzo during Salone del Mobile in Milan. She also customized some pieces (not for sale), like a candy-colored Greek key border dining table with a mirrored checkerboard top in a pastel color palette, teamed with metallic leather chairs inspired by Richard Avedon's 1990 photos of supermodels wearing metallic leather miniskirts with mohair sweaters. Credit: Versace Home

        Caption 03: Marc Ange's Il Pavone (The Peacock) capsule collection for the Italian brand Visionnaire is the designer's allegory to luxury. Inspired by recent travels to India, he was struck by "this majestic animal ... he doesn't hide or defend himself, he doesn't escape. ... [His] time and energy are used to display his beauty." At the Miami showroom, Ange designed a Garden of Beauty, with a large peacock throne the centerpiece of the six-piece collection, mirroring the bird's dramatic plumage, opulently expressed in jewel-toned velvets in a delicate brass frame coated in bronze. Credit: Visionnaire

        Caption 04: Etro's Masai chair is a "scenographic and evocative tribute to Africa," with its ebonized finish, the shape of the armrest, inspired by traditional tools of local populations, and in the detail of the bronzed metal rings reminiscent of the jewelry of African tribes. Introduced during Salone del Mobile, the new paisley is an Arnica jacquard, whose warm colors recall the burnt lands of the savannah and a special interpretation in a symbolic Afro mood enriched with decorative fringes. Credit: Etro

        Caption 05: Terrazzo continues to captivate -- in porcelain tile, accessories and here, in rug design. Peggy's Party is a design by Tali Roth for Empire Collection Rugs, a boutique line of custom, hand-crafted carpets from Aronson's Floor Covering. Titled "A Week in Venice," the collection is comprised of six styles with a distinctly Italian aesthetic, rich color palettes and natural fibers. Peggy's Party shows a more playful side to Terrazzo with its dynamic colors. It's available in Earth and Pink made of 75% wool and 25% Tencel. Credit: Claire Esparros/Empire Collection Rugs

        Caption 06: British designer Bethan Laura Wood nodded to details in Rosenthal's classic TAC tea set by Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius, where the lid top and handle come together to create a single flowing curve, in her playful Tongue collection for Rosenthal. Wood's design also references other elements throughout the brand's history, from the wiggles of Eduardo Paolozzi, to the hot pink flamingos that once took up residence in the center of the factory. Credit: Rosenthal

        Caption 07: Master textile artist Paola Lenti created this extraordinary room divider out of small samples of her fabrics with stitchery showing a range of her extensive color palette. Credit: Paola Lenti

        Caption 08: Clam, a modern sofa in mustard by Leo Dubreil and Baptiste Pilato for Ligne Roset shows off curves and does double duty as a chic sleeper. The bed-settee is easy to operate and designed to be viewed on all sides. The sleep area is generous, and those side curves create a stylish shape at both ends when open. Placed in the middle of a room, the piece is like an island for reading and resting. Credit: Ligne Roset

        Caption 09: Pattern is rich in the maximalism movement. It's most definitely in the comfort zone of Amsterdam-based designer Marcel Wanders. He designed these mosaic coffee tables (which can double as seating) for Bisazza. The three patterns -- Pebbles, Norah and Meryl --were launched in the brand's Milan showroom during Salone del Mobile. Credit: Bisazza

        Caption 10: Birds perched on flowery branches, strikingly silhouetted on a white plate resemble paper-cut pieces in Meissen's Flying Jewels pattern, introduced at Ambiente at Messe Frankfurt. The birds are hand-painted. Credit: Meissen

        Caption 11: During NYCxDesign week, Moooi launched the Liberty Table, designed by Atelier Van Lieshout, in its newly renovated showroom in Manhattan's NoMad neighborhood. Inspired by nature and materiality, made of American chestnut, the table reflects Arts and Crafts style, with clean lines and simple forms. Creator Joep van Lieshout says the table "does not follow the rules of design, it isn't logical and therefore is true to its name." Credit: Moooi

        Caption 12: Perimetre porcelain is graced with chevron, brick and palisade patterns, bringing elements from the urban landscape into play in this line of four vases and four trays. With their prominent ridges, the vases evoke a leaf that has been folded then pinched together. The masterfully crafted shapes break with the curves usually associated with this material. Credit: Hermes

        Caption 13: An asymmetrical sink with an industrial look is a striking silhouette in matte black. The Escondido Vanity from Thompson Traders has an off-center design that offers additional counter space. Its sleek shape is elegance and grace in harmony. This is a new matte black finish from Thompson Traders, created by expert coppersmiths in Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico. It complements popular design trends today. Credit: Thompson Traders

        Caption 14: DuraSquare is a slender, minimal, rectangular, matte black, metal framed vanity that houses a washbasin from Duravit. The basin is made from DuraCeram, which allows precise rims only a quarter-inch thick and maximizes the size. With a glass shelf beneath, it is available in a textured white, as well as blue, green and black. An optional towel holder sits right or left. Credit: Duravit

        Caption 15: The tufted N701 three-seater armless sofa with a strong horizontal pattern from Ethnicraft stands out in a shade of Classic Blue, the Pantone Color of the Year. The sofa, designed by Jacques Deneef, is available in different sizes, allowing bunching together to create your own unique setting. Credit: Ethnicraft

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        (Editors: For editorial questions, contact Clint Hooker at chooker@amuniversal.com)

        COPYRIGHT 2020 ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

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