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October 2002
Baker Celebrates the Hallmarks of 18th Century Design With the English Classics Collection

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Baker, one of the premier manufacturers of fine furniture, unveiled its latest collection, English Classics, at the Fall 2002 International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C. Adding to Baker's repertoire of traditional collection offerings, English Classics captures the elements of charm found in 18th century design, yet employs a pared-down approach to each execution, giving these pieces an understated presence, and a livable, mixable quality. The collection is comprised of 26 items, including living, bedroom, and dining pieces, and occasional tables.

Baker's exploration into 18th century design has produced a diverse array of product that pays tribute to the golden age of English cabinetwork, and to its masters, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton. Each piece reflects the era with subtle nuances, reflecting the essence of fine design. English Classics is a familiar, refreshed approach to this period of design.

To bring the latest introductions to life, Baker partnered with renowned interior designer, Dan Carithers. It was Carithers' exacting eye that defined the English Classics, Stately Homes, and Grand Salon spaces this season, with a display of soft color as individual as the collection each palette represents.

Daniel R. Bradley, president, Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Inc., explained, "Baker's expansion of its traditional offerings creates a complete collection of pieces that both enhances our current lines, and complements existing décor. These designs have a stand-alone quality, a presence upon which an entire room can be built. English Classics broadens our traditional category simply and effectively by bringing together pieces that entertain all the qualities of great 18th century design, yet have been honed and simplified to appeal to today's lifestyles."

English Classics is rendered from mahogany wood and veneers, crafted using a variety of cuts to capture the wood's natural figuring, swirl, and crossfire. A sophisticated selection of inlays and borders has been chosen in satinwood, tulipwood, yew wood, and ebony creating a remarkable surface display. Painted pieces in cool ivory, mottled tortoiseshell, and hand-applied chinoiserie, decorate and create contrast to the mahogany woods and rich inlays, emphasizing the diverse beauty of this group.

Baker has created its English Mahogany finish to complement the wood forms. The finish is a multi-hued stain, mingling warm auburn undertones with a wash of rich brown, then hand-rubbed to a glossy sheen. The play of red and brown defines the mahogany's natural figuring, while a gently applied physical distressing and rope crossing adds to its versatile charm and forgiving nature. The pieces are fitted with stylized brass hardware, which has been oxidized to emit an antique quality and warmth, and fashioned in 18th century willow-and-gooseneck and bale-and-rosette pull designs.

For English Classics, Carithers chose a look that is at once appealing and familiar. Carithers, whose career in design spans over 35 years, decorates these rooms with calming English blues and creams, creating contradiction with pinpoints of color, rich textures, and unique accessories for a sophisticated schematic - one that easily translates from Market's showroom elegance to residential settings.

"There is a design practicality that has evolved," explained Dan Carithers. "Suites of furniture are not expected to carry a room. Atmosphere is created using an eclectic base, selectively chosen from a broad definition of important features. These classic forms are not from one era, but span the centuries of design, and are contemporary of any age. Certain pieces carry an emotional quality of indeterminable wealth. Others serve to bridge. It is the harmonious effect of well-loved pieces placed next to precise antiques and new acquisitions, surrounded in colors that nurture and complete a room. It is the blending of choices that determine a room's moment of truth."

An example of Carither's extraordinary play with color, texture, and form, can be found in the English Classics dining room. The traditional arrangement is set within shades of mineral blue toile fantasy print, with touches of Devonshire cream, and includes the elegant double pedestal dining table, Hepplewhite-inspired chair design, breakfront china, sideboard, and a pair of painted and gilded gesso chests.

The bedroom, family dining room, and living room continue the English blue theme, using a variety of complementing hues to define the spaces. Wall coverings include a cream paint, and an elaborate peacock design. There is a continuation of color that seems to graduate and flow from one room to the next.

"The colors selected reflect an air of comfort and serenity to complement the familiar quality of the pieces," continued Carithers. "This very familiarity continues to gain importance and is reflected in current decorating styles, blending the lines of traditional and contemporary design. The expectations carry through from form to finish, to color and pattern, with each playing its part in the overall effect."

Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Inc. includes Baker furniture, Baker Knapp & Tubbs Showrooms, and Baker Stores. Along with McGuire Furniture Company and Ann Sacks, it is part of the Kohler Interiors Group and a wholly owned subsidiary of Kohler Co., a global leader in kitchen and bath designs.

Kohler Co. was founded in 1873. Headquartered in Kohler, Wis., it is one of the oldest and largest privately held companies in the United States.