What American Signature Inc.'s merchandising creative brought to the furniture industry from his work at Victoria's Secret

A couple of years ago, stylist Ricky Gonzalez left Victoria’s Secret to become the visual merchandising creative director at locally owned American Signature Inc., the parent company of Value City Furniture. Fairly soon after starting the job, Gonzalez’s imprint began to appear on the company’s catalogs, websites and other materials. Below is a look inside his furniture design world.

You leapt from the position of associate vice president of creative services at Victoria’s Secret to your new job at American Signature Inc. What did you learn at Victoria’s Secret that carried over?
Presentation is everything. Branding, ideation and concepting (with standards) are the keys for any successful business. Having a clear idea of who the customer is in order to present them with new ideas and different ways of looking at something is critical.

The catalogs produced in the last year by Value City Furniture are impressive. What was the first thing you did when you made the job change?
Understanding the competitive landscape, as well as the history of where the brand has been and where we want the brand to go, helped me identify a language that speaks to our customer. I always look at opportunities to improve presentations, not only in our stores, but also the lookbook, to show the product in a real, lived-in setting where memories are made.

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American Signature partnered with Queer Eye star Bobby Berk to produce a line of furniture last summer. How did that partnership come about?
I met Bobby at [High Point] Furniture Market and established a connection and understanding of his style and looks. He’s really the embodiment of our Designer Looks brand, which aims to give our customers high-end looks for less, and without sacrificing style. We knew Bobby would be a great accompaniment to that collection, which is now in stores.

What is your biggest challenge working with the American Signature brand?
Having the patience to go step by step, stay focused and prioritize challenges me each day. We need to place our efforts on projects that will move the needle to demonstrate we have style and quality at a great price.

Let’s talk about color. Can we get a prediction about what to expect in the next year or two regarding home furnishings?
This year is all about muted tones with accents of blue. Tone-on-tone pattern is also important. Blue will still be a strong color for next spring. There will be a transition to warmer colors for next summer as the blues transform into teals with yellow gold and coral accents. For fall 2020, the palette gets even warmer. We expect hues of French navy and bitter brown—which has eggplant base—and more animal print.

Personally, what’s the style in your own home?
Eclectic and modern. I am in a mixed marriage with two children. We bring East Coast and Caribbean style together with attention to detail, color and art. Our home expresses our individual styles with balance and function, and creates a lived-in look and feel.

What do you wish that everyone knew about buying furniture for their home?
They must think about the purpose of each piece before buying it—entertaining, décor, show off, family time, tranquil space, etc. 

What is the most underrated accessory that you’d advise everyone to have in their home for 2020?
The pouf! It is the new extra chair, or comfy foot rest for relaxing. It is a great piece to add, it doesn’t have to match and is virtually weightless. You can move it around and it is [available at] a great price.