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Previews, Product

2019 Casual Market Forecast: Bullish on Indoor-Outdoor Rugs

Whatever the economic forecasts, the indoor-outdoor rug industry is bullish, according to exhibitors and buyers at the 2019 Casual Market Chicago, held last week at The Mart.

By Pat Terry
Collage of rugs, pillows, and a living room scene

Rug fashion trends at Casual Market Chicago: Top row, Cane-line, Treasure Garden, Decorative Concepts. Middle, LR Resources. Bottom row, Trans-Ocean by Liora Manne, and Jaipur Living.

CHICAGO -- Whatever the economic forecasts, the indoor-outdoor rug industry is bullish, according to exhibitors and buyers at the 2019 Casual Market Chicago, Sept.10 - Sept. 13 at The Mart. 

Neither fears of economic slowdown nor tariffs, prices nor increasing competition seemed to affect exhibitors, who see continued consumer growth in indoor-outdoor rugs. Style and design are taking on a more sophisticated, but casual, theme as rug companies increasingly look to furniture for their fashion clues.

Showing strong belief in the future of indoor-outdoor, several new and existing furnishings companies made their outdoor rug debut at the Casual Market. Market newcomers like LR Resources made its first appearance at Casual Market, as did The Rope Company, Art Carpet USA and Decorative Concepts, while successful indoor-outdoor rug purveyors Jaipur Living and Trans-Ocean returned with exciting new concepts. And the "granddaddy" of them all, the sophisticated Cane-line of Denmark, returned for its fourteenth year at the show -- though they've only shown indoor-outdoor rugs for six years.

The busy Casual Market Chicago 2019 was successful for new and returning indoor-outdoor rug exhibitors.

Overall trends seen and reported at market include: 

-Growing design and color sophistication;

-An ongoing merger of indoor and outdoor decorating and design;

-Even greater popularity of the blues - from powder to royal to teal and myriad tones in between; 

-The growth of grays, especially lighter hues;

-Sustainability efforts, though definitions vary widely;

-A new buyer-friendly merchandising concept;

-Prices are fairly stable as few outdoor rug producers source from China.



Jaipur Living's Matt Peterson poses in front of a feature wall at Casual Market Chicago with a montage of high fashion outdoor rugs. From left: Zenith from Polaris; 2019 award-winner Farra from Indie; a Lanai collection pinstripe, Limon from the Rebecca collection and Zhara from Indie.

The big trend noted by Matt Peterson, trade show manager, is that outdoor rug are looking more like indoor rugs, complementing high-end outdoor furniture. Outdoor rugs had generally been fairly basic high-low, power loomed in polypropylene fiber, but Jaipur Living has targeted its lines at the designer market and fashion-driven consumers. Made from PET yarn and other innovative performance yarns, the company's in-out rugs are a cut above in construction, design, styling and color.

Jaipur Living's Indie collection, featuring faded, distressed looks -- including Farra -- which received the ICFA's Design Excellence award -- has been well received by buyers. It retails around $150 to $175 for the 7'3" x 7'6" size. The Rebecca collection and Lanai collection have also been strong sales performers, Peterson said.

Most of Jaipur Living rugs are made in Turkey, Belgium and India, so the tariff situation hasn't affected prices; if anything, Peterson said, some prices are down a bit in power-loomed rugs. And for designers, a growing customer segment for the company, price is not as important as color, pattern and quality.

The Persian-inspired Zhara rug from the award-winning Indie collection by Jaipur Living is woven from weather-resistant polypropylene with the styling of a vintage indoor rug.



Chris Nilan of LR Resources was pleased with interest in the company's clean over-scale coastal and tropical designs in its first appearance at Casual Market Chicago.

LR Resources made its debut at the 2019 Casual Market, according to Chris Nilan, director, agency sales, "because our outdoor rugs were growing at a pretty rapid rate, and the outdoor retailers are important to us."

Pointing to three polypropylene rugs - one with blue sailboats on a neutral ground, another with oversized white pineapples on a green ground and one with a life-size palm tree -- displayed behind him, Nilan said buyers seem to really like the simpler, cleaner designs. 

LR Resources is taking its design and color cues for trends in the outdoor furniture.  "Say you've spent $10,000 on the outdoor furniture, you don't want your eye drawn down to the rug," Nilan said. "We're getting very good reactions here. People are coming by and saying, 'Who are you? Where have you been?'"

A detail of the Sails Up rug prominently displayed by LR Resources on a feature wall, shows the textural look and stylish blue and gray palette.

Nilan noted that retailers are appreciative of the company's price points: a 5x8 around $99 MSRP, $199.00 for 8x10, and $379 for a 9x12. There hasn't been much change in price, he said, because there isn't much fluctuation in the raw materials for polypropylene, unlike cotton, for instance. 

Tariffs are a non-issue since LR Resources makes its rugs in Turkey, but is seeing a bit of a slowdown in delivery times because of increased demand from companies moving polypropylene rug production to Turkey. Where it used to take 65 to 70 days from production to US facilities, it now may be 110 to 120 days -- which means keeping larger U.S. inventories. After a successful launch at Casual Market, Nilan was already talking about a larger rug selection next year, maybe in a larger space. 

Known for their rich-colored, luxurious jute Naturals collection, LR Resources could not resist showing a small sample rack for buyers looking for casual indoor products.


Dean Smith of Trans-Ocean found strong response to coastal patterns like its Coral Boarder design, and to the company's new, easy to install display concept.

Trans-Ocean, long an exhibitor at Casual Market, unveiled an innovative new merchandising concept to make buying and display easier for retailers, and shopping easier for consumers --especially in non-traditional area rug outlets, including garden and patio stores, home centers and large specialty mass retailers.

Dean Smith, vice president of sales, reported very strong customer interest to the new concept: Trans-Ocean created five distinct rug collections, displayed on one long rack, and featuring some 250 rugs. Each rug is available in the two popular sizes, at the same retail price points --  (5x7.6 at $99.00 and 8x10 at $199 retail).

The collection concept allows buyers to easily select a style and specific rugs, and help differentiate them from mass merchants. The five collections offer 18-19 colorways per pattern, made in machine-woven and printed polyesters with lots of texture variation.

Agate, a marble-inspired design from the Carmel collection by Liora Manne for Trans-Ocean is fashion-right for indoor-and outdoor settings.

"Retailers love it," says Smith of the new merchandising concept. "Their business is in furniture but this allows them to easily select and add rugs. It's easy for them to pick out colors and patterns all in one place."

Color is still key in Trans-Ocean's indoor-outdoor rugs, especially blues -- from teal to deep sea blue and everything in-between. Popular designs vary depending on region of the country and geography, with lots of seashells, coral and other ocean life selling in coastal regions, more basic themes in the heartland -- though nautical is popular in homes near a lake or river, And southwestern motifs are good in desert areas. Various shades of gray are also popping up more often.

Jellies from the in-out Marina collection by Liora Manne for Trans-Ocean is hand-tufted of polyester and acrylic.


Brent Grams, key accounts manager for first-time exhibitor Art Carpet USA, poses in front of the Everest Aqua indoor-outdoor rug from the textural Sun Blocker collection.

Based in Chatsworth, Georgia, Art Carpet USA made its first appearance at the 2019 Casual Market to expand its indoor-outdoor rug business.

"We're putting greater emphasis on indoor-outdoor carpet as the outdoors becomes an extension of the indoors," said John Brooking, president, noting that bright outdoor looks and large patterns are becoming less important.  Instead, he says Art Carpet USA is paying homage to the colorways and trends in furniture.

Currently, five of Art Carpet's 26 collections are outdoor rugs, all polypropylene and priced to retail around $69.99 to $79.99 for a 5x8 flat weave, and $149.99 to $199.00 for a 5x8 cut pile outdoor rug.  


On-point blue and grey make a striking outdoor rug from the Seaport collection by Art Carpet USA.


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