Hospitality buyers look to AmericasMart By Jessica Harlan
A growing number of buyers for hotels and restaurants are shopping AmericasMart, seeking trendsetting looks and pieces that will set their spaces apart from other commercial establishments.
“Today, both hospitality buyers and consumers follow fashion, culture, and lifestyle closely,” says Monica Porter, Certified GREENleader for Montes Doggett. “They are in sync and will ultimately have an eye for the same look and feel when choosing items, whether for a home or a commercial project.”
Among the trends she’s seen in hospitality design are simple, clean and oversized statement pieces and new interpretations of familiar, everyday shapes. Porter adds that buyers are gravitating to items that can stand on their own, rather than collections. Meanwhile, Leslie Thompson of Up Country Home, believes the hospitality trade leads in design, and consumer trends are more likely to follow that sector. Right now, she says, “there is a big trend in creating spaces for communal dining.”
Bigger and Better
Mac Cooper, president and CEO of Uttermost, sees an emphasis on texture and color with natural hues, rather than busy patterns. He says furniture pieces have a softer look with curvy lines rather than sharp angles. And hospitality buyers are often drawn to products that have connectivity features, such as USB ports in lamps.
Pasha Furniture, Inc.
Cooper says that rather than cookie-cutter spaces, hospitality designers aim to create unique experiences. “They are seeking eye-catching, one-of-a-kind designs that fit the narrative of the hotel design,” he says. “In the larger, bigger-budget properties, the art is almost exclusively local, with exotic public area pieces.” Sam Kural, CEO of Pasha Home, agrees. He says oversized statement pieces and custom orders are what draw hospitality buyers to his showroom. While retail buyers are choosing from the designs on the floor, his hospitality clients, “have a vision of what they want. You might go from one of your existing designs and modify it, or you start from scratch,” he says. They’re looking for bold products, tall pieces that can make a big impression, and modular shapes that can be arranged and used in a number of ways.
One of the most popular items in the Pasha Home showroom for commercial spaces, is an oversized round ottoman. Because of its size, too large in scale for a home but perfect for a hotel lobby, “It tells hospitality buyers that we can do what they’re looking for,” says Kural.
In bedding and textiles, it’s a slightly different story. Eugene Paceleo, director of hotel sales of John Matouk & Co., notes that hospitality buyers who frequent his Atlanta showroom are looking for trendsetting textiles that can be adapted to the wear and tear of commercial use.
“We do a lot of delicate, high thread count bedding,” says Paceleo. “These might be applicable to presidential suites, but for the most part it’s at a price point where it may not be the optimal purchase for hoteliers. But we can change the base fabric to a lower thread count percale or sateen, and fade-resistant cotton tape.” This achieves a similar look but with a more durable fabric that can withstand frequent washings in commercial machines.
Thompson of Up Country Home echoes the idea that hospitality-geared items must have more durability than something destined for a consumer home. “A chair must withstand thousands of impressions, or wallpaper must be able to be washed. If a product isn’t durable then it won’t be considered by an experienced hospitality designer,” she says.
Paceleo says that while white bedding has been the standard in hotel bedding—a trend that’s also translated to retail—a new, younger breed of hoteliers is pushing the envelope with touches of color and other elements of differentiation. “A duvet cover might be made of a heavier fabric,” he says. “There might be a bright throw or runner, or a satin stitch in a contrast color. They’re trying to achieve something a little different in the rooms, something that can be a hotel’s signature.”
As with Pasha Home, Matouk sees a lot of custom business, which the company can nimbly address with its factory in Fall River, Mass., which keeps rolls of fabrics on hand that can be cut and sewn to order with no minimums. “If you have a suite and you need a silver cotton coverlet in a specific size, we can do that for you, there’s no issue with minimums and reorders,” says Paceleo.
With vendors that can accommodate custom needs, or which have the kinds of bold statement pieces that hospitality buyers are seeking, AmericasMart is an increasingly important resource for commercial properties. Thompson says that in the past, she saw few hospitality designers at AmericasMart, but she is seeing more and more. She believes this is in part because an increased number of residential designers are focusing on hospitality projects.
“Hospitality buyers and designers are finding AmericasMart a necessary source for their needs,” says Porter. “In turn, they are pushing our capabilities as designers and manufacturers, to attract a buyer that might not otherwise have been our intended market.”
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