Today I am delighted to have John Griffith, Supervisor of Visual Merchandising at Replacements, as my guest here at The Collected Room! I recently was with John at the Unity in Design Conference and had the opportunity to hear him speak on current and emerging trends in the tabletop industry.
As you probably know by now, I am a frequent shopper at Replacements! When researching and writing The Collected Tabletop, Replacements seemed to certainly be my place where endless “collected tabletops” were given birth. Many of you may not be familiar with Replacements, so I will share with you my guest John Griffith!
Kathryn: “John, please share with my readers a bit about Replacements, Ltd.”
John: ”Our company was founded by Bob Page in 1981 and grew from his hobby of collecting china and crystal. Today we are the largest retailer of china, crystal, and flatware in the world. Our 5000,000 square foot facility if located near Greensboro, NC. Just to give you some perspective, our facility is the size of 8 football fields, we have over 12 million pieces of inventory in over 400,000 patterns of china, crystal, and silver. We employee 425 employees and we service over 10 million customers on 6 continents.”
Kathryn: ”I never cease to be amazed at the size and scope of Replacements and have always been so impressed that you are a “pet friendly” environment and even allow employee to bring their “well behaved” pets to work. What a wonderful environment for your employees!”
John: “Yes, Kathryn, we know that you love dogs almost as much as you love china! And obviously you are a bit partial to Westies!”
Kathryn: “That is indeed correct. If you would John, share with us some of your thoughts on color in regards to tabletop trends.”
John: “A big trend that everyone eagerly anticipates every year is Pantone’s Color of the Year. I think you recently did a blog post of the 2014 color, Radiant Orchid. Pantone spends months researching market trends before choosing the color. They look at colors used in contemporary and current art; they send questionnaires to fabric and fashion designers, graphic artists, paint manufacturers, retailers and consumers. From the questionnaires they gather a manageable list of prospects and then apply psychology of color theory. One big factor in this year’s selection had to do with demographics. According to research purple is the number one color preference of women over 60 and with baby bommers commanding such a large share of the consumer market, selecting purple as the color of the year seemed a wise choice.”
Kathryn: “Besides “radiant orchid” and purple tones, what are some of the other color trends in the tabletop industry.”
John: “Reactive color glazes have been increasing in popularity over the last year or two. For those unfamiliar with reactive color glazing it is a method of making stoneware to produce a gradient or multi-colored effect. This is often called a mottled glaze. Black and white is another trend that we anticipate being huge this year. As you always seem to be in black and white Kathryn, I am sure this trend will suit you!”
Kathryn: “You are certainly correct there John! As you know I am a big “blue and white” collector. How does this combination fare in the current trends?”
John: “I anticipate that in addition to black and white , monochromatic color schemes and the ever popular blue and white will be huge this year.”
Kathryn: “In addition to color trends, what other trends are taking off?
John: “I know that you say your design philosophy is one that is collected and your book is The Collected Tabletop, so you will be pleased to hear that a trend that has taken off and become huge in the last couple of years is “pattern blending”.
Kathryn: “Yes, the entire premise of The Collected Tabletop is certainly “pattern blending” and combing patterns in creative ways. What do you think is the reason behind this trend John?
John: “Well, I think that over the last two years or so there have been several factors that have come together to help drive this trend of blending place settings:
After years of decline, bridal registries have been on the increase since 2010. New brides to be (along with their future husbands) have not only been registering in greater numbers, but have begun to register for more traditional wedding china , crystal and flatware.
Kathryn: “My prayers are answered!!”
John: “Secondly, couples are living together longer before getting married. By the time the wedding rolls around they have what they need and registries are becoming more about what they want, making registries more personal. They have also begun inheriting tableware whether it is through death or downsizing. Some baby bommers (Not you of course Kathryn) are passing the torch so to speak and sharing their tabletop collections with children. And instead of leaving complete sets to a single person, they are splitting sets among two or more people.
Kathryn: “Oh no, this chinaholic is certainly not downsizing at the moment. I constantly tell people to use what they have, combine the patterns , and NEVER use disposable tableware. My belief John is that vintage and antique tabletop items are the ultimate way to “go green”!
John: “Yes, consumers in general are turning away from inexpensive disposable tableware and are once again starting to choose quality over price and are turning to heirloom quality china.”
Kathryn: “Again, my prayers are answered!! So how does all this translate into this huge pattern blending trend John?”
John: “Well for starters when people come to us looking to flush out or add to inherited china , we are finding that the desire is not necessarily to complete the set with more of the same but instead consumers are looking to add their own style and tastes. This seems to go arm in arm with your book and for your passion of inspiring people to find and refine their own personal style.”
Kathryn: “How do you think this seems to work with couples, who often have different tastes?”
John: “Sometimes we run across couples whose tastes diverge in different directions and it becomes difficult for them to come to a compromise or agreement on their own. And then we have the client who has outgrown their china and over time their tastes have changed and their china doesn’t really express their current style.”
Kathryn: “How does Replacements help these clients John?”
John: “There are a couple of things that we will typically suggest right off the bat. For china place setting we suggest accent luncheon or salad plates in a complimentary pattern. By switching out that salad plate or adding an additional size with the luncheon plate , you can add a whole other dimension to a place setting and additional options for a table setting . This is similar to many of your table setting in The Collected Tabletop and in your “Churchill table”.
Kathryn- “What about crystal?”
John: “Yes, this also applies to blending crystal patterns. This could be achieved by replicating the same pattern in different colors or blending stemware to focus on design elements such as vertical cuts, cris- cross or cross hatch or even similar floral elements in etched stemware.”
Kathryn: “I think that flatware is one of the easiest element to blend on a tablescape, especially using a mix of different five piece place setting and duplicating them around the table. Tell us about your own personal way that you blend your flatware.”
John: “In putting together my personal collection the only design element that my pieces have in common would be the monogram “G”. For my collection, I focused on patterns that were more geometric with straight lines, Greek keys and those types of design elements as opposed to floral patterns.”
Kathryn: “Wow John, you have shared so much information on trending , but I would love for you to share with my readers Replacements little secret on blending patterns . I am sure everyone is thinking…easy for him to do with 400,000 patterns and 12 million pieces of inventory at his disposal!”
Would you join me again tomorrow and share your secret of “OPI” with my readers?!
John: “I would be happy to do that.”
Kathryn: “So stay tuned for John’s secret back here at The Collected Room tomorrow and learn from “the master” just how easy that can be!
For more information or to shop with Replacements, click here to visit their website!