Call it the circle of life. Decorating styles, just like clothing styles, come and go — and then come again.
At the recent furniture show at World Market Center Las Vegas, two manufacturers were featuring collections that were strikingly familiar. In fact, one collection, Bassett Furniture’s Grove Park, is a revival of one of the Virginia-based company’s most popular lines that was discontinued in 2005.
The other, Broyhill’s Mardella, takes inspiration from its Brasilia collection that was introduced in 1962 and discontinued about four years later.
“We finally gave in to all of the requests for bringing Grove Park back,” said Rob Moffett, director of sales for Bassett. “I have accounts that I have been doing business with for many years and they have been asking us that question for almost 10 years. We finally decided the time was right.”
The collection, done in a Mission or arts and crafts style, was popular from the start, Moffett said.
When he joined the company in 2005, Grove Park was in the process of being phased out and had “already been around a good 10 years. It’s very unusual for a furniture collection to last that long,” he said. “They usually only last for two or three years.”
It also was the dealers that prompted Broyhill to launch Mardella, said Fran Scheller, Broyhill’s director of case goods.
“I was at an antique show in Charlotte and saw some midcentury modern pieces. Then, I took a trip to Chicago, to Springfield, Ill., and saw it again. I knew it was coming.”
She said they decided to build one piece, which they had on display at a dealer conference.
“We weren’t even going to talk about it. A dealer stopped and asked what it was,” she said.
Other dealers were intrigued by the collection as well. “The dealers pushed us to introduce (Mardella) six months before we were ready to.”
Broyhill worked off of sketches created by Gary Hostetler, one of Brasilia’s original designers.
About eight years earlier, Hostetler has created designs for some modern pieces, but the team didn’t think the time was right to introduce them. When he retired about five years ago, the idea for the collection sat on a back burner until recently.
Brasilia was inspired by the architecture of Brazil’s capital city. Hostetler traveled to cities and countries around the world to find designs that could be translated into furniture collections, Scheller said.
“Their goal was to find what was new and original. They were looking at the building of the capital of Brazil,” she said. “The got interested in the architecture, the arches and swoops that were so prevalent to that city.”
Mardella borrows those same arches and swoops, along with Brasilia’s signature bright gold hardware.
Scheller said Brasilia’s popularity faded naturally.
“In the ’60s and ’70s, styles changed so fast. I remember my mom had midcentury modern furniture and then colonial hit. Everything had to change.”
Although it borrows heavily from the Brasilia collection, Mardella has changed, too. It was modernized with features such as updated drawer systems with full-extension metal drawer guides, beefed up bases and legs to make the pieces sturdier and increased storage space, including a jewelry drawer in the dresser.
Scheller said the pieces also were designed to accommodate modern media.
When it debuted at the company’s showroom in High Point, N.C., in October 2012, Mardella was the second best-selling collection featured. It included bedroom and occasional pieces. Dining room pieces will be introduced in April “and will knock your socks off,” Scheller said.
Scheller said Mardella is expected to hit retail floors around September.
To date, her favorite piece is the chesser, a combination dresser and chest. It offers drawer storage behind a door, five additional drawers and a pull-out hangar on the side.
“It harkens back to the old gentleman’s chest,” she said.
Grove Park’s clean lines and simple silhouettes are what make the collection so popular, said Renee Loper, vice president of independent retail business development and marketing.
“I think the styling that made it good then, makes it good and relevant today. It is timeless and classic,” she said.
When paired with modern paint colors and accessories, the collection takes on a fresh appearance, Loper added.
The collection also is appreciated for its wood grain and finish. Moffett said they used quarter-sawn oak that doesn’t have the typical oak grain pattern.
“It’s a really interesting grain pattern with a lot of variation,” he said, noting that the highs and lows in the surface catch light differently and emphasize red tones in the finish.
Moffett said the style also is flexible and can work in any region of the U.S.
Though the basic look of the collection is the same, Loper said it has been modernized to accommodate today’s media and electronics, as well as improved with full-extension metal drawer guides and drop-down drawer fronts.
Available now, Loper said the entertainment pieces and wood-framed upholstery seem to be getting the most attention from consumers. Those pieces are selling better than bedroom and dining pieces, which is unusual, she added.
Moffett said Bassett has noticed that the economic downturn of the past few years has changed the buying habits of today’s consumers. People are not spending as much as they did on furniture but when they do spend, it is on things they interact with the most such as upholstery, mattresses and box springs, and casual dining.
“If they have a choice of being comfortable or having a dresser in their bedroom that looks good, they will go for comfort,” he said.