Exhibition offers a variety of new home-furnishings ideas

The computer age has caught the fancy of the home-furnishings industry. At the Southern Home Furnishings Market this month it was apparent that many companies had rushed into the burgeoning field of computer desks - furniture especially designed to house computer components.

By autumn consumers will be able to select from this growing array, now being produced in every style and price range. The Singer Company showed one of the most impressive computer groups.

For those who will be shopping for furnishings during 1983, the following trends also emerged at the Southern Home Furnishings Market here, the nation's largest wholesale exhibition of new ideas for the home.

Eighteenth-century styles are dominant. American traditional, which received such a boost with the United States Bicentennial celebration of 1976 and was encouraged by Williamsburg and Winterthur and other museum reproduction programs , has now penetrated many middle and upper levels of the market. Queen Anne and Chippendale are everywhere, and new introductions continue to come.

Two of the most noticeable evidences of the love affair with American traditional are the very slender rice-carved four-poster beds and the numerous variations of the camelback sofa that are suddenly everywhere, ''in response to consumer demand,'' the manufacturers say.

A great variety of lacquered finishes have also been introduced, and every company now has its own array of colors. Chinoiserie is often an element of the lacquered Oriental pieces.

As to what might become the ''big look'' after American traditional, Michael Dugan, president of Jamestown Sterling Corporation, predicted this at a market press conference: ''As 18th-century styles have moved from the 'class' segment to the 'mass' segment of the upper-end market,'' he said, ''the next movement will probably be toward France. French styles have all the necessary elements. There are many good designs to choose from. There is a diversity of moods and a feeling of richness. And there is a familiarity about them which holds down the risk factor in consumers' minds.''

Henredon already has its Villandry collection of French Provincial classics in place, and Baker Furniture Company introduced Louis XVI dining room and bedroom pieces at this market. Brandt Cabinet Works Inc. also showed elegant court French designs from the period of Louis XVI, and American Drew's new French collection is called Chateau D'Orleans.

''Country'' styles are talked about less. Some country groups introduced a year or so ago have been considerably pared down. Still, the homey, cozy, somewhat rural Americana look remains vital, and quilts, simple pine and oak furniture, baskets, and painted tinware continue to enliven many showrooms. The Laura Ashley small-scale provincial print is a fabric choice of many sofa manufacturers.

For a nostalgic reminder of the recent past, the mood of the 1930s and '40s pervades one strong segment of the market. The influence is Hollywood, art deco, and the opulence that marked the decor of the great ocean liners that once plied the seas. Most of these groups are termed ''contemporary,'' but the words used to describe them include such '30s and '40s-era words as ''streamlined'' and ''curvaceous.''

''The moderne spirit is stronger now than when we first introduced Normandie Moderne two years ago,'' said Milo Baughman, designer for Thayer Coggin Inc. ''There are some quite fundamental reasons for the reemergence of interest in the moderne look of the late '30s and early '40s. The glamorous spirit and the softer, rounder forms of moderne achieve a glamour and an elegance that is pleasing to many people today. For me, personally, it is one of the most engaging and deeply satisfying styles in which I have ever worked.''

A Canadian company called Bauhaus Designs is showing a collection of Italian-inspired post-modern furniture. A trimmer, more curvilinear look in seating has replaced the oversized and overstuffed cushions of a few years ago. Flared arms, curved backs, and soft edges hark back to the art deco look of the decades between 1930 and 1950.

Oriental stylings remain strong and timeless. New collections, based on Asian themes, such as Mount Airy's new Nara and White Furniture Company's new Shansi, continue to find a welcome.

Leather is having a heyday, and a new range of improved colors and finishes has made it a prime covering material for sofas and chairs. Almost all seating manufacturers have handsome new entries in the leather field. Again, they say, ''Consumers are willing to pay extra for durable, hard-wearing leather, which they perceive as a kind of investment purchase.'' Ultrasuede, a man-made leather popularized by fashion designers, is now also being used to cover sofas and chairs.

Another high-fashion influence from the apparel field is seen in the much wider use of black and white in combination. A year ago a few companies had a small number of sofas and chairs covered in high-chic black. This spring bold black is everywhere. A trend that started with haute couture, and in exclusive interior design circles, has now been picked up at every level.

Other new colors include every shade of mauve, plum, and grape, every shade of gray from dove to fog, taupe, ash rose, dusty pink, seafoam, mint, and bottle greens, gray-blue and soft peach to coral. Grays are the colors to watch.

As for wood, oak remains a favorite. Cherry has a growing list of fans. And light English yew turned up, as a surprise note, in several new groups.

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