Nicki Rayburn talks about color with a glint in her eyes. The director of marketing for Oriental Weavers could be seen marching through the company’s showroom carrying a Pantone color sampler with her during the summer edition of the Atlanta International Area Rug Market. And, no, she wasn’t selling paint, but the color on some of the rugs was just as vibrant as something that had just come out of a can.

“We have an exclusive licensing agreement with Pantone,” Rayburn explained, “which is the worldwide authority on color. This licensing agreement makes total sense for us because, in the rug industry, it’s all about color and design. And we’re very much known for our color and design.

Rayburn added Pantone “actually selected us for this exclusive partnership,” as she held up the Pantone chip book, which shows a rainbow of colors. “This is our marketing tool.”

Oriental Weavers unveiled four collections for its Pantone Universe collection—Prismatic, Matrix, Expressions and Focus.

The assortment ranges from Prismatic, a printed nylon with a subdued, brush stroke appearance that retails for $199 for a 5 x 8, to Expressions, a cross-weave retailing for $349 for a 5 x 8. Meanwhile Matrix features geometric designs in a100% wool flat-weave that sells for $299 for a 5 x 8 and Focus is a woven shag collection.

Each product is available “in Pantone’s hottest colors,” Rayburn said. “We have them in great colors. The cool thing about that is there’s one called tangerine tango which was the Pantone color of the year for 2012, and one of the colors is emerald which is the Pantone color of the year for 2013.”

The importance of color was also visible at The Creative Touch, where general manager Baki Ildiz was busy dealing with customers.

Like many of the exhibitors, he appeared to be pleased with the summer turnout, which is normally slower than the market’s winter edition held every January. “It is not the best, it is not the worst. For the summer market it is good.”

Ildiz also had good things to say about the efforts made by AmericasMart, which hosts the market, to lure even more foot traffic into the rug showrooms. “They have mixed the rugs with the furniture companies, so I think there is more traffic walking by and that affects our business and our attitude because you might be able to show your items to people who did not initially come looking for rugs. If someone is decorating a house or buying furniture they might want some rugs as well. They might not have an idea, but if they are walking on this floor they might see something they like.”

New to the market for The Creative touch was the Patchwork Retro collection, which Ildiz said was made out of old, vintage textiles. The colorful flat weaves adorned the floor and walls of his showroom. 

Comments like Ildiz’ were certainly welcome by Kevin Malkiewicz, vice president of area rugs for AmericasMart. He said placing more furniture showrooms near the rug showrooms is a conscious effort to show buyers what’s available and how those items work together.

“Buyers are really embracing AmericasMart’s integration of the Home and Rug floors and we were glad to see even more of them exploring the floors this summer,” Malkiewicz said.

Andrea Macielag, with web-based catalog company, Vermont Country Store, was liking what she was seeking at the market.

Macielag told Floor Trends she came to Atlanta looking for rugs, furniture and outdoor items. “This is a great show for us. There’s a lot to see in a limited amount of time, noting she flew in to Atlanta on Wednesday when AmericasMart’s Gift & Home Furnishings Market began and was planning on staying through Sunday in order to take in the rug portion of the show.

Sarah Zohar, of Miami based Sarah Z Designs, a first-timer at the market, also liked the variety at the market, saying she was interested in “everything. I’m an interior designer so I am looking for anything I can get into a house,” she laughed.

Ashely Alford, design manager at Momeni, echoed Malkiewicz’ optimism. “We’ve been really busy,” she noted on the second day of the market. “There’s been a lot of people coming in which has been really nice, especially for the summer.”

Alford was excited about the company’s Mirage collection. The rugs are made out of eucalyptus tree fiber, making them totally renewable. “They’re beautiful. They’re machine made but you wouldn’t know it,” as she demonstrated by brushing her hand over the rug.

Alford said many of the company’s products are made in China, India, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt. Despite unrest in the Middle East and turmoil in China, she said “we haven’t seen any problems so far.”

At Nourison, marketing director Thomas Itty was also pleased with the market.

Nourison brought a new offering from its recently launched Kathy Ireland collection to the show, with products ranging from polypropylene to wool and prices ranging from $199 to $799.

“This is machine made and it runs the gamut from polypropylene to wool,” Itty said. “It’s a pretty balanced collection targeting a certain demographic, which would be middle America families—that’s the caveat of the brand.”

Licensed brands, he added “always bring something new to the table. We try to find ones that fit a space we don’t have already. They all have different brand spaces. Kathy Ireland is the middle, family, woman-oriented brand we didn’t have before.”

Allen Robertson, vice president of sales for Capel Rugs, said his company was “only” showing 17 new lines during the summer market.

Capel brought several collections to the show with a base price of $400 or less. He said market prices are forcing companies to be more value oriented and many companies are trying to figure out ways to broaden themselves and reach a younger audience.

The Market Square collection, for instance, uses jute and a 5 x 8 retails for $299. Also prominently displayed in the company’s showroom was the COCOCOZY line, named after a FOX blogger Coco. “It offers a youthful, chick look,” he said.

At Shaw Living, designer Bob Timberlake was in the company showroom, discussing not only his interest in designing rugs but a little about his own history.

Timberlake recounted winning a furniture design competition when he was merely 15 years old and said he built two cars by the time he was 17.

Years later he found himself in the rug design business with Shaw. “It’s fun,” he said. “Designing rugs is just fun.”

Shaw brought to Atlanta 36 new Bob Timberlake area rug styles, which he said were inspired by Southern gardens, Southwestern patterns and historical design.

Shaw Living’s, World Market collection, originally launched in January, expanded with five more collections consisting of 36 hand-tufted, 100% wool rugs in traditional, global and contemporary styles.

Karastan, a division of Mohawk, introduced seven collections for the summer show, noted Craig Trimble, vice president of product management.

The company also continued its Woolrich licensing agreement, because just like at Oriental Weavers, Trimble said it’s “pretty obvious” what is hot: “Bright, fresh colors, explosive florals.”