Hispanic influence reflected in furnishings 
Associated Press
Apr. 14, 2007

Joan Brunskill

Home-furnishing lines are reflecting the same Latino influence showing up in home design lately.

Among those already out there are the Casa Cristina collections of furniture and home furnishings, brand-named for the Cuban-born media personality Cristina Saralegui.

Since 1989 she's been the multiple-Emmy-winning host of the Cristina Show, her Spanish-language TV talk show on Univision, and she also has a radio show and a monthly magazine.

"With the emergence of Latin-based decor," the Miami-based Saralegui said in an e-mail exchange, "we are seeing a vibrant mix of bright colors, dark tones and brilliant shades of white to accent the overall look. These designs reflect heritage, and Latin decor brings with it a lovely array of floral and energetic patterns combined with textured elements, wrought iron and unique details, such as terra cotta."

Casa Cristina sheet sets, bedding sets, bath and decorated towels and table linens have mainstream distribution - they now are sold, exclusively, at Kohl's department stores nationwide. Saralegui also has produced lines of furniture and lighting, ranging in style from airy and modern to heavier traditional.

Hispanic design has style and beauty, color and exuberant patterns and a use of detail such as embroidery and crocheted sheets, said Domino magazine marketing editor Eugenia Santiesteban in a phone interview from her New York office.

"It has wide-ranging appeal beyond Hispanics," she said. It appeals to other people who've traveled and come to love the style, or who see it and get one or two pieces to mix in eclectic settings.

Domino magazine's Santiesteban mentioned what she calls "global decor,"
ideas drawn from around the world that designers use, mix and match. "In this global decor, I do think there's a specifically Hispanic influence.
I've seen this for at least five or six years. It's a trend that's building."

Among other examples of Hispanic influence in design she mentioned: Oscar de la Renta's tableware and furniture drawing on his roots in the Dominican Republic; and Kate Spade, who, she said, is very influenced by Mexico. "She has done collections of straw bags with Mexican embroidery, even some of her tabletops - she has a spring line of china with a parrot motif."

Santiesteban pointed out that imported items play a role in this design style. She has noted Colombian plantain-leaf fiber, vegetable-dyed cushions; Mexican furniture, chairs and tables, made by local artisans, especially tinsmiths; Mexican embroidery in coverlets; and stylized versions of traditional craft work such as Peruvian village geometric patterns on pillows, rugs and bags.

She said there's a natural fusion as designers in the United States use the Hispanic folklore themes along with modern contexts.

Also part of the trend: Dan River is coming out with a line of El Chavo bedding and beach towels, marketed and licensed with the name of the widely popular, long-running animated Mexican television show, seen in the States on Univision.

"This is mostly bedding for children ages 5 to 9, and it's gender-neutral,"
said Neil Mandell, Dan River's senior vice president of licensing and marketing.

"The design is intended to give kids a high comfort level with its recognizable images." The beach towels probably will appeal more to parents, he added. "A lot of these parents grew up with El Chavo."