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Postcards from America

 

As a British designer whose wallpaper (and extended line) is 100% British made, I feel that I have a good understanding of my home market and what influences my client’s choices: the different types of homes, the eclectic mix of personalities, the contrast between rural and city dwelling. Now that the company has moved into the international market, it’s important I understand what influences my new clients across the pond and I wanted them to know the story behind my brand. Equally, I want to understand my US competitors and what designs, colours and scales are selling. Is it different to the UK market and if so, how and why?

Bradley, our wonderful USA Stockist, has showrooms in Atlanta, New York and Chicago. We first made contact via Instagram three years ago and, with exciting developments unfolding, I flew to Georgia last month to meet the teams in their flagship showroom in Atlanta, and later in New York.

 

 

Bradley’s beautiful, custom-made furniture (shown above) is the focal point of their showrooms. Their range is exquisite and the options are endless. They introduced wallpapers and textiles three years ago, specifically reaching out to brands that aren’t known everywhere. As a result, they offer designers a choice so vast they are able to create schemes for all sorts of projects, tastes and styles, all under one roof.

 

It was fascinating to learn about the brands they represent and the wallpaper and fabric designs that are selling best. I noticed the majority of US wallpaper designers now use the digital printing method. It is more cost effective as rolls can be printed to order and it is also easy to custom colour and custom size a design, which is very popular in the US. After several meetings with various Interior Designers in both Atlanta and New York, many of them mentioned that the majority of their clients love custom work and so do the designers, because it makes each project unique and fun for them to work on. Geometrics and large scale florals are hugely popular in the States, proving that bigger means better can even apply to wallpaper! Two examples below are Ashley Woodson Bailey‘s dark and moody photographic florals (left) and Lindsay Cowles‘ large scale geometric designs created from sections of her abstract paintings (right).

 

 

Although the digital print process is becoming more popular in the UK too, it made me realise how much I value the gravure technique that we use, as well as the highly specialised team who help us bring the designs to life through their printing. As it becomes an increasingly rare choice for other brands I feel more passionately about holding onto it and keeping my designs special and more unique to our brand. The gravure process allows me to add the metallic shimmer to my designs that enhances the extra detail in my drawings.  This is a big part of what my brand is about and the digital process just wouldn’t be able to print to the same effect.

Interior trends and styles vary enormously across the USA, largely influenced by location. Sales in Bradley’s Chicago showroom are mostly in darker, richer tones whereas in Atlanta, which covers the warmer Southern region, more softer blush pinks, silvers and blues are popular. Suzanne Kasler’s classic style (left) and Kemble Interiors’ more bold and vibrant interiors in Florida (right) perfectly represent the styles in the Southern states.

 

 

New York’s style is more industrial, but with Interior Designers there also working on projects in Connecticut and Boston, colour trends and tastes in this northern area do vary enormously.  However, the darker more moody colours seem to be more popular on the whole.

In terms of my own wallpaper, here in the UK my Nakuru (flamingo design) will be chosen for all sorts of properties yet in the USA this design is only really considered for beach houses in Florida or the Hamptons. My Highland Fling (cows) are incredibly popular here despite few clients living in the Highlands, yet the feedback I received from Atlanta and NYC was that this design would only be considered for a ranch in somewhere like Colorado. There are, however, designs of mine that are solid favourites both in the UK and in the USA. My Nakuru (flamingos), Nutcracker (squirrels) and Free Fall (feather) designs, in both fabric and wallpaper, have proven to be attractive to both markets.

 

It’s so interesting to learn about the intricacies of both markets. Interiors will always be influenced by location to a certain degree but after my trip to the USA, I learned this is far more the case over there than here in the UK and is something I will definitely take into consideration when I design my next collection.  The wallpaper trend is booming in the States and it’s a market that has an exciting future for JT. We are working with some leading designers on some incredible projects at the moment and I look forward to seeing the outcome of my trip over the coming months.

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