AF Lighting & The Awards for Design Excellence Winners

They are not the largest lighting company, but they are one of our favorites for their cool sense of style, great prices, and focus on upscale transitional design.  We are talking about AF Lighting, of course, who feature lighting fixtures, lamps, and home accents in a wonderful variety of materials and  finishes.   One of their best-selling lighting collections is by Candice Olsen, who has really come into her own as a home fashion guru.

Recently, AF Lighting received another distinction from ADEX. The Awards for Design Excellence (ADEX) is one of the largest and most prestigious awards program for product design of furniture, fixtures and finishes marketed to the design trade. The anonymous panel of professionals representing a cross section of the design industry recognize new superior product designed in the last year. The 2011 ADEX Awards attracted upwards of 500 companies that submitted approximately two thousand innovative new products.

Gleaned from the thousands of entries, 4 AFLighting designs were bestowed an award based on force-ranking of form, function and fitness for a particular purpose. AFLighting is proud of each designer and their creative and innovative execution that gives the AFLighting brand the ability to be on-trend and inventive.  Click on the links below to go to AF Lighting's website for the most recent product introductions, then give us a call and we will be happy to order it for you!

Candice Olson
- 2011 ADEX Silver Winner -



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Horizon Series
- 2011 ADEX Platinum Winner -



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The Delicate Glass Beads with Silver Accents Give an Awe-Inspiring Illusion of Floating Shade - Chocolate Poly Silk Hard-Back
The Kinston Lamp combines the transitional with rustic. An oil rubbed bronze metal pattern overlays on 2" thick clear crystal.

Horizon Series
- 2011 ADEX Silver Winner -



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Candice Olson
- 2011 ADEX Silver Winner -



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The aerial view of Americas farmlands as seen from an airplane window provides a unique interpretation in the aerial lamp, whose base of mixed metallic finishes celebrates the textures, colors & symmetry that is the beauty of this lamp.
A Candice Olson original. This Sahara lamp is made of quality yellow Abalone Shell and ant brass. Due to hand-crafting no two are like.

11 South Collection by Lexington Home Brands

Lexington Home Brands rocked the High Point Market this spring with their hip yet accessible new collection called 11 South Combining flowing forms with architectural lines, 11 South is a study in contrasts in both design and materials.  The juxtaposition of the softer wood tones with other naturalistic components makes for a design balance that is timeless. There are so many unique aspects to this collection, starting with the finishes.  Umbrian is a Chestnut brown finish with gray undertones and Studio is used on metal table bases in a soft graphite finish with faux slate tops

The materials themselves are tactile and intriguing, such as quartered Walnut veneers and select hardwoods, combined with other composite materials.   The hardware is custom designed, with twisted bar pulls in a soft graphite finish.  As usual, Lexington adheres to the highest quality construction principles, such as English dovetails, wood runner and guides, drawer stops and more.

Design Highlights of 11 South
The hardware is a substantial bar pull with a twist like rod iron, which is solid and finished in a soft graphite. This highlights the grain of the quartered walnut and carries the contemporary design of straight lines. In addition, the grain and drawer edges catch the gray undertones of the chestnut brown finish and the burnishing on the edges creates additional framing and depth.   There are some truly notable pieces in the 11 South Collection, from dining to occasional to bedroom:

The 456-877 Pinnacle Dining Table is 82-inches but extends to 126 inches with (2) 22-inch leaves. The architectural elements are everywhere on this wonderful entertaining table, including the metal support that extends from the center of the leg base to the middle of the table. Not only is this functional for a large crowd but also visually appealing.

The 456-872C Marquee Dining Table converts from a 48” square to a rectangle with (1) 22-inch leaf. The base is the same triangular design of the case pieces but with additional interest with angled supports.   You can use chairs from any collection, but we like the 456-880 Innova Side Chair and 456-881 Innova Arm Chair, which are available in standard fabric Essence.

The 456-919 Synergy Hutch and the 456-909 Synergy Base can be stacked on top of one another or multiple times upon themselves to create interesting storage and address great rooms with style. Be sure to use the mending plates which ship with the units.

The 457-957 Proximity Nesting Tables are designed as a pair but also work independently as an extra tray table with the sofa...actually sliding over the seat cushion for easy access of refreshments, laptops, or pads.  The Studio finish is used on the metal componenets, and the top is an engineered slate top (faux slate). This provides the desired characteristics of the slate without the typical chipping of real stone.

The 7505-33-01 Fillmore Leather Sofa is covered in a sleek gunmetal grey with the new 3/8-inch smoke nailhead trim on the recessed track arm panels. The ultra down seat cushions and blend down back
cushions along with the supple hand of the leather will make this the favorite seat in the room. The Fillmore seating is also available in custom fabric as a sofa, chair, and ottoman.

Another great occasional piece is the 456-943 Tribeca Nesting Cocktail Table, which includes 3 tables: (1) 42” and (2) 30-inch diameter with metal bases and wood tops. They can be used as a set for the large cocktail or used separately as end tables and cocktail table.   Also consider the 456-947 Cascade Cocktail Table, which features casters and a pull-out shelf (allowing it to extend from 54 to 69 inches).  A smaller item in the 11 South Collection is the 457-956 Sculpture Accent Table, which sports a metal “spider web” base with an inset faux slate top.

The 456-134C Donovan Upholstered Bed King is available only in Lacava leater, which is a supple nubuck leather  in a soft taupe/gray coloration. The horizontal and vertical lines of the tufted panel with the gentle padding behind reinforces the updated contemporary styling. The 3/8” nailhead trim in smoke gray just inside the leather welt adds a level of detail displayed throughout the collection. The footboard and  side rails are quartered walnut.   We think the Donovan Bed looks particularly enticing with the 456-622 Encore Nightstand, which has one drawer box which can be reversed to use on the left or the right side of the bed. There is a shelf next to the drawer in either position.

Another incredibly striking bedroom piece is the Urbana Bed, which manifests the fusion between contemporary and unique, to create a conversation centerpiece.  It is noteworthy that the contemporary wave on the Urbana Bed requires a mattress only,  as the slat support system replaces the need for a box spring.  It is a true platform bed.

These bedroom pieces can be accompanied by accessories such as the 456-201 Radius Mirror, which is wood and metal with the center section raised by metal stretchers creating added dimension and interest.

Largie at Large Podcast Series

I met Becky Largie, Founder and Chief Progenitor of ELargie Marketing, at a recent NEMOA conference in Boston.   She is a dynamic and enthusiastic veteran on catalog and online marketing.  She recently interviewed a few of us who are on the front lines of ecommerce,  and our very relaxed conversation is now online here.

"The owner of Carolina Rustica, talks about his global pilgrimage while at a crossroads in his career that eventually leads to a successful e-tailing furniture business and shares his Rule of Life".  ....Click here to listen

The BDI Sequel Home Office System

From our friends at BDI, one of the fastest-growing names in contemporary home entertainment and home office furniture.  We love selling BDI because they always exceed customer expectations!   These are from their blog:

The Sequel System: Follow up the the Sequel Desk:
The new Sequel System components add a whole new element to the growing Sequel Office Collection, which is now 17 pieces strong. With the addition of the Corner Desk, Left and Right facing Peninsulas and the Bridge – all of which must be attached to and supported by one or two of the four Sequel Storage Cabinets – the options for creating unique and dynamic office arrangements has increased dramatically.

Since these Sequel System pieces actually bolt together, they require a higher degree of planning and forethought before they are attached. Once attached, Sequel System components cannot be moved, but must be disassembled to be relocated, even small distances. Due to this fact, the location of all wall outlets for phones, computers and electricity must be noted and extension cords plugged in and pulled to the proper location before their outlets are blocked. Window sills, door swing and other obstacles in the room must be taken into consideration as well.

Our detailed instruction sheets, diagrams and corner desk placement templates will assist in this process, yet all delivery personnel and consumers must think through these installations – whether for floor samples, in a consumer’s home, or for commercial offices – before assembly begins. 

The Cascadia Collection by BDI, Now Shipping in May 2011
The CASCADIA  collection has begun shipping and will be shipping in full by the end of May...this is BDI's first collection to span three categories - home theater, occasional tables and office. All models beautifully combine the natural warmth of hardwood veneers with satin-nickel finished steel legs. 

A great solution anywhere that space is limited, Cascadia is terrific for a home office. The collection includes a Desk, a Mobile File Cabinet and a versatile Console/Laptop Desk. A clean, linear design with beautifully finished surfaces, the two-drawer Desk can be assembled for left or right-handed users. The neoprene-lined multifunction drawer keeps a keyboard, mouse and other rechargeable items organized and the convenient side drawer is ideal for keeping supplies close at hand. Partner with the Cascadia Mobile File Cabinet for a complete small office. See also the coordinating CascadiaTable and Home Theater collections

Robert Abbey Lighting at Carolina Rustica

There are just a few lighting lines that are able to cross style categories with the same degree of innovation and panache.  In our opinion, Robert Abbey Lighting is one of them….a longtime lighting supplier to Carolina Rustica for almost 10 years!   This company a fellow North Carolina organization that  has been designing and manufacturing fine lighting products since 1946.  Their design studio, factory and general offices are located in Hickory, just over an hour away from Carolina Rustica.  Through the years of our partnership with this fashion-forward lighting company, we have seen their ability to evolve, surprise, and delight with a huge variety of styles, always maintaining the same quality standards.

Robert Abbey is equally known for both their portable lighting groups (table and floor lamps) as their lighting fixtures (chandeliers, pendants, and sconces).   They carry over styles from each lighting category as well, such as their Doughnut series.  An exercise in the impact of simple geometric design, the Donut Collection translates into contemporary or transitional design with equal ease, by use of parallelism and bold scale.  This has been such a great selling group that the company has deliberately kept retail prices as low as possible, despite raw material price increases over the last few years.

One of the greatest strengths of Robert Abbey Lighting is their commitment to continuous, evolving design.  To that end, they have a stable of worldwide-recognized designers that continue to create innovative groups for the company.  For example, Jonathan Adler is an internationally recognized lifestyle and home furnishings brand known for a design aesthetic which pairs modernist forms with bold colors and groovy graphics.  Rico Espinet is another designer working for Robert Abbey, and his designs aspire to to create affirming interiors which provide comfort and beauty through clean lines and simple form.  Another design star on their team is Mary McDonald, whose style combines old-fashioned elegance with a modern sensibility resulting in a fearless, joyful exuberance.  Her ability to combine the bold patterns of Asian and Indian influences with contemporary lines and an impeccable sense of color has established her signature style, and she is going to really do great things at Robert Abbey

Walking into the Robert Abbey showroom, your eyes immediately move upward and lock onto the fabulous assortment of chandeliers, from the classy, shaded  Ventana chandelier to the geometric Uppark Chandelier…and then onto a series of traditional brass chandeliers re-interpreted with funky shades and design twists that bring them firmly into today’s trends of simple elegant quality.   Brass chandeliers, once thought extinct, have made a comeback through Robert Abbey….even the Uppark is now available in a brass finish.  Of course, Robert Abbey Chandeliers can also go into the extremely funky, such as the Meurice Chandelier, with its double-bulbed construction that is an homage to the classic contemporary designers of the past, like George Kovacs.

We know you will love Robert Abbey Lighting as much as we do.  Please call us at 800-205-7819 or visit our website to find all available lighting by this great Carolina Rustica Partner!

The Aico Bedroom: A Romanic Vision by Michael Amini

We all have visions of our ideal bedroom….one that provides the most relaxing environment in which to rest our tired bodies.   For some, that vision is one of stark simplicity, with clean lines and minimal embellishments.  Others prefer a more traditional look, with cherry wood nightstands, a triple dresser, high chest and matching bed (either a panel bed or a poster bed). 

For many, the romantic inspiration of the bedroom is the only way to go, and for those homeowners and designers, there is no greater example of that inspiration than the Aico bedroom.  Michael Amini, the founder, owner, and lead designer for Aico, comes from a background of traditional continental furniture design.  His vision is one based on heritage, upbringing, and his travels around the globe, and his sense of romance and adventure is reflected in each and every bedroom collection.

The top AICO bedroom collections sold by Carolina Rustica consist of the Monte Carlo, Lavelle Blanc, Cortina, and Tuscano.   Thinking about just the names themselves just conjures up images of elaborately carved beds, stately dressers, and massive armoires to hold your entire wardrobe.   If there is one thing that AICO is known for, it is the ornamentation, carvings, and old-world European feel of its gorgeous collections.

The Monte Carlo bedroom collection draws its inspiration from its namesake city that sits on the majestic Mediterranean Sea.  Over the centuries, the city has been built by some of the greatest architects of our world, and with the consistent climate, has drawn people from all over the world to be a part of its style, splendor, and brilliance. This collection from the Michael Amini Signature Series carries on the legend of the Monte Carlo name with its extensive list of features. Finished in Cafe Noir, Monte Carlo can elegantly fit into any home and lifestyle.  The appeal of this collection is that it can make anyone feel as though they are on vacation in Southern Europe.

Another great group is the Cortina bedroom collection.   This Amini inspiration draws its inspirations from the Italian city of Cortina d'Ampezzo, the breathtaking beauty of the mountain ranges, and the wide rivers of the Italian Dolomites.  This AICO bedroom group resembles the beauty of the region, and the striking details of each piece can bring a piece of Northern Italy to any home. Carefully crafted using Birch Solids, and Cherry and Mapa Burl Veneers, this is completed by a Honey Walnut Finish that whispers of calm and serenity.

We love their other grand bedroom group, Tuscano, a long-standing collection that continues to stand out as a best-seller. Tuscany is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, this collection follows tradition, and is highly artistic and unique. It has taken the mediums of marble, leather, wood, metal, and glass, and has woven them all together to create pieces that will stand out in any home, and could easily feel at home in the country, or in a castle. Featuring Pine solids and veneers wrapped in a warm, rustic "Biscotti" finish with clipped corner bombe styling on the case goods, Tuscano brings forth a vision of Italian grandeur. 

There are other Amini Bedroom groups of note, such as the Trevi Collection, Palais Royale, and Vizcaya Collections, each with its own, distinct romantic European overtones.

All of these groups reflect the elaborate and decorative sense of style embodied by Mr. Amini,  who provides so much inspiration to those who purchase and enjoy his products for many years.  He is a man of taste and integrity, and this is reflected in his furniture.    Please call us for more information, or visit this section of our site for AICO bedroom information.

Lets Talk About Mirrored Furniture!

We are seeing more and more of it...antique (or sometimes called "Venetian") mirrored glass inlay on all sorts of furniture pieces, in all types of applications.

Being an old-timer in the business, I've seen quite a few trends come and go (remember all that wormy antique Mexican pine furniture of the 90's?   I do!).   Some trends are just in a natural cycle, and some are making a permanent statement.   I think the judicious use of mirrored accenting is one of the latter, since it really adds a specific design element to furniture, and can be used in everything from dining tables to nightstands.

Lets start with Currey and Company, one of our favorite manufacturers of high end lighting.  Currey incorporates mirrors into chandeliers and their accent furniture.  The Antiqued Mirrored Console shown at left is one of their best-selling pieces, because it is both subtle (i.e. not too flashy) and can be used ad a console, hall table, or powder room accent piece.  The time-worn details lend a true antique feel to the piece, and it also has a drawer for further practical use.

Another great little piece is the Pulaski Accent table.  Measuring 18 in diam by 26 in high, this cute little table is absolutely the most go-anywhere upscale accent piece we have seen in awhile.  With its use of tiling design, Pulaski shows exactly what a piece of mirrored furniture can do to add zest and interest to a room.  Finding tables this small can be a challenge, since it is difficult to manufacture with mirrors, so this is a particularly interesting find.  Imagine this being used as a small lamp table, a reading table for your favorite spot, or even as a night table in a guest room.  Round tables are handy too, because they can go in tight corners without having to face a particular direction

Hooker Furniture also has an interesting take on mirrored furniture.   Their Mirrored Chairside Table has a much more antiqued appearance, with a softer look that suggests reclaimed mirrors from a bygone era.  This softness is contrasted with the purely functional design of the table, which features a wood-on-wood pullout drawer and a spacious one-shelf interior space.   Again, this could be used as a nightstand, accent table, or powder room accent piece.   Hooker Furniture also has a great portfolio of mirrored furniture in its Sanctuary Collection, which features a soft finish, antique influences, and a gentle, time-worn approach to furniture design.  The idea behind Sanctuary was to create a sense of relaxation and refuge away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

Mirrored accenting has been used in lighting for years, in fact for over a century.  From candle lights to gas lights, mirrored backs have been used to augment the light source...a practical means of doubling the lumens for little extra cost.  This tradition has carried down to modern electric sconces and chandliers, where mirrored accent tiles are used as a decorative element in varying degrees.  Most of Carolina Rustica's lighting manufacturers use mirrored accenting to some degree.

British Colonial Furniture: Inspirations and Possibilities

One of the most timeless designs found in homes across America is also the most difficult to define.  British Colonial furniture harkens back to the exotic outposts of the British Empire, at its zenith during the Victorian era.  Popularly known at the British Raj, this huge swath  of territory covered Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.  British Colonial Furniture also includes territories included in British East India, including islands that are now part of Indonesia and Malaysia.

The furniture takes its utilitarian influence from the tropical environments in which it was found.  Using generous proportions of local wood such as Teak, Mahogany, and Mango Wood, this furniture was designed to absorb much of the humidity found in those areas.  Since the wood expands and contracts, much of the construction also used natural grasses and reeds to allow for this movement, such as rattan.   Consequently, most British Colonial furniture is defined by heavy use of dark woods with contrasting light weave, and use of other organic materials such as natural stone or marble.  

No other manufacturer we represent embodies the vision of British Colonial more than Bauer International.   With their hand-carved designs, originating straight from their factory on the island of Java (Indonesia), Bauer truly epitomizes the elegance and practicality of this time-tested style.   Here is what their website says:

With a basis of inspiration in authentic 19th century British, Dutch and French colonial designs from the West Indies, Ken Bauer launched Bauer International by bringing together his  passion for travel and culture and a love of fine craftsmanship.  Ken and his wife Dee Ann set out on a personal journey to develop a line of hand crafted furnishings and travel accessories, resulting in the founding of Bauer International in 1992.

In fact, one of our single most popular items on Carolina Rustica is the Bauer Java Plantation Lounger, which is a relaxing, comfortable way to channel the best of the old English colonies.

Palecek Furniture is also another supplier which really captures the essence of British Colonial design.  They are particularly known for their use of all types of organic materials, which blends seamlessly into a whole product.  For example, the Mandalay Six Drawer Dresser is constructed with pounded wood and rattan, with tightly woven rattan peel matting.  It’s a stunning piece.  

Of course, no discussion of British Colonial Furniture would be complete without mentioning Tommy Bahama’s Kingstown Collection, a unique collection with a sense of far-away adventure.  It is a relaxed traditional look inspired by British Colonial style, with a hint of campaign and a whisper of safari. The evocative designs provide the sense of a well-traveled life, of items hand-selected during journeys around the British Empire.  We think it’s a great representation of the darker finishes used in much of this style furniture (the Malabar finish in the Kingstown Collection must be seen to be believed!)

Whatever manufacturer you choose, Carolina Rustica has one of the broadest representations of British Colonial furniture available anywhere.  This style is evocative, of lasting duration, and heirloom quality to be enjoyed for many years.

Coastal Style Furniture

With summer approaching (and it approaches real fast here in the south!), its time to start thinking of vacations at the beach, and the design it inspires.  This design motif is more popular then ever, if recent product introductions at High Point are any indication.  The inspiration for a coastal chair or table are various, from traditional white wash finishing to use of natural materials found in beach environments.    One of our favorite new intros is the Summer Home Collection from Fine Furniture Design.   This lovely little group features simple, homey designs with farmhouse legs, gentle scrolls.  Crafted of hardwood solids with maple veneers, the Summer Home group is actually available in several finishes, so its simple attractive design will fit into your vacation spot, or the home where you spend your time (which does become a summer home in June, July and August, right?)

Another one of our favorite new groups features a softer distressed look inspired by French antiques but fused with a coastal, down-home sensibility. Lexington Home Brands' Twilight Bay features elements like washed linen fabric coupled with Antique Linen finish, a generously-distressed crackle finish with a rub-through light grey tone.  It is such a pretty collection, and just makes one think of a relaxed but upscale living style.   You can imagine Twilight Bay as either an entire collection, or maybe a select occasional chair or end table to inspire that coastal design.  We know this has been one of Lexington's best-selling new introductions in a long time, and its easy to see why.

Of course, for coastal-inspired dining chairs and tables, our most popular group here at Carolina Rustica is Paula Deen Furniture by Universal.   She is one of the most beloved TV personalities to break into furniture in recent memory, and her design style has the southern influence that comes naturally here to us in Concord, NC.  Paula's Savannah home by the sea is designed with a homey, comfortable feel that inspires gatherings around the dining table.  The relaxed style draws from both deep Southern elements and coastal elements as well, making it a great option for many different styles of homes (in many different locations...the black finish is great for more rustic mountain homes too!)

We have over 75 name-brand manufacturers of fine furniture, with hundreds of collections available in seashore-inspired designs.   Visit our site or call us at 800-205-7819 and one of our design experts will be happy to help with your coastal decorating.