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Trend watch: Going graphic

By ANNE WANGMAN

 

Designers arenít mincing words when it comes to one of the fastest growing trends in interiors these days. Letters, numbers, phrases and symbols are everywhere, from the floor on up. Upholstered furniture like chairs and ottomans as well as accessory pieces like pillows, rugs and even coasters are showing up in homes all around town. While you donít want to overdo it, adding a typographically inspired piece is an unexpected way to add pizzazz to a room.

"Iíve seen street names and garden quotes in script as patterns on these types of fabrics," notes Jim Jung, an interior designer at Brookfieldís Boston Store Furniture Gallery and Design Studio. "Whatís exciting is they look just as good on a formal French chair as a more casual slipper chair. Although the calligraphy is usually printed on fabrics made of natural fibers, like linen, these types of upholstered pieces arenít defined by a particular style. You can go traditional or more relaxed."

"In modern spaces, lettering and numbers are used in more random, brightly colored patterns," notes Amy Carman of Amy Carman Design in Wauwatosa. "There are some great area rugs and printed pillows at retailers like CB2 and West Elm. It seems this trend reflects the way we communicate today, via e-mail and texts with acronyms and shorthand." Carman also recognizes the traditional roots in this more contemporary style of fabric. "Calligraphy and quotations on furniture and accessories actually have a very vintage feel. The writing evokes a place or era, often with a French or English flavor. It looks like an old postcard from abroad."

Jeanne Bonk, a sales associate at Calico Corners in Brookfield, says the trend is really taking off with her customers. "We are just starting to stock these types of fabrics and they are selling fast. Writing seems to be popular. Weíve even got fabric with an old French postage stamp on it. Itís perfect for pillows or even a cool chair, ottoman or other accent piece." Bonk says transitional interiors are especially suited for these types of fabrics. "They come in a lot of neutral colors, in shades of gray, taupe and black, which you see a lot of in transitional style homes."

"This type of look is all over the marketplace, especially in cutting-edge stores and shelter magazines," says Greg Bonk, Calicoís owner. "These fabrics are great for small furnishings or accessories, but donít necessarily work on big furniture. Texture is also really important. Printed letters and numbers on unusual fabrics like burlap, duck cloth, linen and heavy, thick wovens are really hot right now."

Mary Anderson Schaufelberger, design department manager at Steinkellner Decorating Center in Wauwatosa, is just starting to see the trend emerge in wallcoverings. "Like most trends in interiors, they start on the runways. Colors and patterns in home fashion come from fashion design." Schaufelberger says though the popularity of wall writing that was so prevalent a few years ago seems to be waning, removable type on walls has replaced it. Pop on a letter, number or word and take it off when you tire of it. m