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Furniture to cocoon with

Cocooning, the desire to protect oneself and one's family from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world, is more important post-9/11 than ever before.

"We are going to the armored cocoon," says Faith Popcorn, the trendspotter who coined the term in 1981. "We live in communities with gates. We are filtering our air and our water. We have locks on our TV. We have home generators. We are investing a tremendous amount in our cocoon."

And she hopes that some of that investment will be in the products she has helped develop. Popcorn has transformed herself into a brand, and her goal is to create "the total cocoon" that may ultimately encompass almost everything we use in the home _ from furniture to bedding.

Popcorn (born Faith Plotkin) was at the spring International Home Furnishings Market to introduce her second collection of home office furniture for Hooker targeted at women; to show off her La-Z-Boy recliners designed for women and children; and to show samples of her wallpaper collection for F. Schumacher & Co.'s Village brand. She also handed out copies of her latest book, Dictionary of the Future (Hyperion, $22.95), co-authored with marketing and advertising guru Adam Hanft.

Popcorn's company, BrainReserve, identifies future trends so businesses can reposition established brands, develop new products and create new business opportunities.

Her all-female staff interviews consumers and experts, reads 300 publications a month and keeps in touch with what's hot in pop culture. Clients range from American Express to McDonald's.

Armed with research of what women want in furniture, Popcorn and licensing executive Carl Levine approached furniture manufacturers with a presentation that included how they saw furniture evolving. Her data came from a survey of 7,000 women and from photos taken by 1,000 work-at-home women who were sent disposable cameras. The most telling information came from the photos of their work-at-home spaces.

Women's home offices could best be described as a mess, according to Popcorn. Stacks of papers were piled on computers and fax machines. Books were toppling over. But in all the chaos, a common thread emerged. Women needed a safe place to put their coffee cups, a spot where they could find the earring they took off to talk on the phone, a place for their flowers that were in rickety pitchers and somewhere for pictures of their kids that were push-pinned into walls.

But even more revealing was the fact that Mom often didn't work alone. Frequently the pictures showed a smaller makeshift desk so her child could work alongside Mom.

"When we saw the child close by, we thought, "Let's start to format the home office for children,' " Popcorn said.

"Faith Popcorn's Cottage Cocoon Home Office" for Hooker furniture includes a place for everything women needed _ a coaster for the coffee cup, a jewelry tray in the drawer, a recessed v-shaped glass vase and a corkboard for photos. But even more important, it also has a file cabinet that opens into a child's mini desk.

The Cottage Cocoon collection appeals to a younger customer who is attracted to the designs of Pottery Barn and Crate&Barrel. It's also somewhat smaller in scale and about 20 percent lower in price than La Cocoon, her first collection, in a Country French style.

Still, Cottage Cocoon offers all the big-office features, including computer credenza and hutch with double pullout keyboard/work surface, bookcases, peninsula desk and several other desk configurations. It comes in two finishes, a light vanilla or a dark sable. The credenza-hutch has a suggested retail price of $2,400.

Popcorn says she focused on the slightly country cottage style because it "expresses cocooning best" and says "family, security, cozy and resting place."

Popcorn's leggy laptop desk for Hooker ($599) is a contemporary design complete with two electrical outlets, a phone jack, four drawers and a covered top that lifts to become a document stand. The versatile piece would be at home at the end of a sofa, beside a bed or even in the kitchen.

For information, visit www.hookerfurniture.com or call (276) 656-3335. The furniture will be in stores in late summer.

Popcorn's Cocooning Collection of wallcovering for Village offers soothing colors and patterns: florals, paisleys, faux marbles, animal-skin looks. She likes "cozy and comfortable" wallcovering for the kitchen, "the place for family and friends to congregate." She recommends florals and paisleys to create a "secure and safe" atmosphere.

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