Design awards honor imaginative trends in furnishings

Interior designers are always looking for new problem-solving furnishings and for more interesting ways of putting rooms together.

Each year, the Resources Council Inc., a national association of interior furnishings manufacturers and suppliers, aids that process by sponsoring a product design awards program. It is a juried competition to help ferret out innovative and creative designs that have been introduced in the previous year.

In 1981 the jury considered 350 entries, from which 23 winners were chosen to receive ''Roscoe'' awards. The categories represented both residential and contract furnishings and recognized the imaginative use of materials, color, and fine craftsmanship, as well as excellence of adaptation or reproduction.

The three award-winning products shown here indicate a few notable decorating trends as well. The elegant ''classic dining pedestal,'' designed by Bill Goldsmith for LCS Inc. in New York, is part of a new look for dining rooms. This look involves the use of handsome disparate assemblages of furniture, rather than matched dining room suites.

''Many people today are investing in a single dining room table that pleases them enormously,'' explains Mr. Goldsmith, ''and then fitting the dining chairs around it that they think complement it or contrast with it most.'' His dining pedestal, with a glass or a marble top, would look as good with traditional chairs as with very modern ones.

The idea for the base came from the classic Greek or Roman column, but the designer interprets it in such contemporary materials as clear Lucite, yellow metal, and mirror. He terms it ''basic design'' because it is both simple and timeless.

''It is the kind of design that lots of people are looking for today,'' the designer says, ''because the cost of furniture is high, and they are being more careful and thoughtful in their purchases. They are looking for things they think they will enjoy for a very long time, and not fads. Actually, this pedestal table could serve in many places, or, without its round top, it could make a great sculpture stand, so it has a lot of versatility.''

The award-winning Japanese console designed by Isabel Mitchell for her firm, Ambience, in New York City, meets another kind of need. It is the kind of table that goes many places and does many things.

''I find that console tables are a major item in today's interior design schemes,'' comments Mrs. Mitchell, who was herself an interior designer for 15 years. ''A console table is a wonderful way to make a design statement quickly, and it can prove useful in many ways. I use consoles in living rooms, dining rooms, entrance foyers, and bedrooms. I place them behind free-standing sofas and against walls. I also use them to hold serving pieces and cups and saucers in small dining areas, and to hold magazines, books, and small television sets in bedrooms.''

Mrs. Mitchell's prize-winning console is 54 inches long, 32 inches high, and 18 inches deep and is covered with a leather parchment that makes it impervious to liquids and to the hazards of ordinary wear and tear. She put the shelf underneath ''almost as an afterthought,'' she says, recalling how nice it is to discover a bit of unexpected storage and display space in a newly acquired piece of furniture. She says the design is a modernization of a traditional Japanese form.

The ''Kessler Torchere'' by R. J. Randolph, Chicago, is a contemporary version of the classic tall electric floor lamp which gives indirect light. It was designed by Douglas N. Gordon as a new answer to the continuing demand for floor lamps that are unobtrusive in appearance but capable of general illumination for specific areas.

Sherman R. Emery, editor of Interior Design magazine and one of the jurors, says the quality of this year's entries was high. He was impressed with such other award winners as the leather floor tiles made by Middletown Leather Company, and the textiles that appeared to use air brush techniques on printed fabrics. He mentioned, too, the ''painterly'' effects of ''Giverny,'' a hand-screened print designed by Richard Kitchen for Groundworks in New York.

For the first time, a rag rug took the award in the traditional rug category. This prize-winner, obviously woven to suit the current look of country furnishings, was designed by Harry Flitterman for Harmony Carpet in New York, and is a fringed rectangle of soft multicolored pastels. In the casual furniture category, a relatively inexpensive and very simple wicker club chair by Walters Wicker Inc. captured the award.

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