Frescata, a new pattern in Karastan's Aria collection, displays a field of skewed, wavy lines in bands of alternating color. Minimal, abstract designs are a cornerstone of contemporary rugs.

Scattered throughout modern design centers, upscale showrooms, and a historic market square with its antique hardwood floor still intact, this spring's International Home Furnishings Market offered further proof that the unifying theme in all of home design is lifestyle. Often, the evidence could be seen on the floor.

The market, held April 14-20 throughout downtown High Point, N.C., suggested that designers are leaning more toward contemporary approaches. Rug makers, for example, showcased bold new patterns designed to complement the new-is-now flavor of this season's furnishings. From location to location through out market a sense of new flavor was present. Brighter colors, striking abstract designs and geometric patterns drew attention. In the past, it was the more tradition looks - say, a Tibetan rug with a tea-stain colored fringe, for example - that would bring the buyers calling.

Denise Krejci, an interior designer for Leopold's, a furnishings retailer in Brecksville, Ohio, said the trend toward contemporary design was accelerating. "I was surprised to see how many of the new products were contemporary instead of traditional," she said.

Designers said the move toward more modern and even playful accents in the home may be tied to the shifting demographics of home buyers. New construction and remodeling projects are being fueled by low interest rates which in turn attract younger buyers who are influencing all manner of interior design including floor covering.

Larry Mahurter, director of advertising for rug manufacturer Couristan agreed that contemporary styles are beginning to blossom in the marketplace. "Red, browns and oranges are really starting to pop up," he said.

He added that the latest offerings from Couristan bear this out. For example, its transitional and contemporary collection, Pokhara, features striking color options ranging from multi-colored, variegated patterns to subdued earth tones. Even the company's traditional collections, such as the Prestige and Royal Kashimar patterns of Persian rugs, are now saturated with deeper, more vibrant colors. Even some of those on the front lines of the design business admitted to being a little dazzled by what they saw at Market. Suzan Decker Ross, owner of Decker Ross Interiors in Clearwater, Fla., said that the "bright colors and interesting designs" at market definitely caught her eye. "I saw some great colors out there, some terrific lines."

She added that she was so taken by one of the rug manufacturers at market - Abbyson - that she "ended up buying the whole line." For its part, Shaw Living, in collaboration with Nourison, touted additions to its Studio collection of contemporary rugs. The hard-to-miss patterns make use of geometrics, casual mosaics and symmetrical bands of diagonal color. All are designed to work with current furniture styles.

Likewise, Karastan displayed new designs in its Aria collection, incorporating five classic and four modern designs. The contemporary offerings presented designs radiating with textural details and vibrant coloring, with a color palette designed to complement upscale leather furnishings and upholsteries.

Masland Carpets & Rugs rolled out six new contemporary designs in its Serendipity collection. These designs, with additional textural carving, incorporate: Jubilee, showing off a field of squares; Ribbons, displaying narrow bands of color; Potpourri and Dancing Daisy, which both use light floral patterns; Hedgerow, which showcases a narrow border design; and Lucky Border, a design peppered with small squares.

According to Mac McCormick, vp of sales and marketing for Jaunty Co. Inc., area rugs are definitely trending toward "unique textures and striking patterns."

Karen Caldeira of I.N.T.E.R.I.O.R.S., a design firm in Mount Pleasant, S.C., summed up the market succinctly. "I thought it was fabulous," she gushed. "There were many beautiful rugs, a lot of different choices to take back to our clients."