Milo BAUGHMAN thinks that people should buy fewer pieces of furniture.
Coming from a furniture designer, this may seem like a strange idea, but Baughman is ususual because he is a philosopher as well as a designer. He doesn't mean that consumers shouldn't spend money on furniture, of course. He simply preaches quality rather than quantity.
"I always tell someone who is thinking of redecorating to first take out what is not needed in a room," said Baughman during a chat at the spring furniture market in High Point, N.C. "Open up the corners and let a room breathe. I think a room should have fewer pieces but better quality furniture."
Baughman said a room need not be furnished with small-scale pieces to seem spacious. He mentally furnished a living room with one large sofa, an ample cocktail table, two chairs, a grand piano "and nothing else."
A few large pieces give the illusion of space," he explained. "You can pull clear plexiglass folding chairs out of a closet for entertaining. Or, you can sit on pillows on the floor."
Baughman, who designs contemorary furniture for Thayer Coggin Inc., has few of his own designs in his home. However, two of his designs, a cocktail table and a hassock, which contains foldout beds, eventually may end up in his house. He had to rent cots when three grandchildren visited recently.
Baughman's latest collection of furniture, which was unveiled at the spring market, is part of a the popularity of plump, overstuffed furniture reminiscent of the 1930s. "I think this furniture satisfies the valid needs people have to be comfortable, both physically and psychologically," Baughman said. "I don't think we are going back to the purest Modern or minimal-Modern, but we are moving toward casual styles in the living room. But not so casual that there is not style or glamor."
Baughman calls his new collection "Normandie Moderne" in honor of the streamlined passenger liner that sailed between Europe and New York in the late 1930s. The ship epitomized the ultimate in streamlined design and luxury.
Besides the plump, sleek upholstered pieces, Baughman's new collection includes cocktail tables in unusual shapes. There is a quarter-round cocktail table, one in the shape of a "b" or "d" shape, a cylindrical side table; and an eliptical shaped cocktail table with a swivel top that swings out.
For his upholstered pieces, Baughman chose colors that are reminiscent of the '30s and the Art Deco period: peach, turquoise, white plum, mauve, jade green and pink. Gray was a "much bigger color in the 1930s than today," Baughman said. "Gray goes up and down in popularity. Deep olive and navy blue also are colors that were more popular in the '30s than they are today.
"On larger scales it makes economic sense to go with a beige or gray, any neutral," he said. "You can change the colors in the room with paint or a wallcovering."