I’m back at the work piles, upon my return from the High Point Furniture Market, and as always, my head is so full of inspiration and information, it takes a few days to put the pieces and categories back together!
This market had the added honor and focus of my having been anointed a Style Spotter by the Market Authority . . . a spotter of trends in design, as it were. I’ve set up a page on Pinterest and I welcome you to drop by for a visit. Just go to: Wanda Horton - #HPMkt for my Board. (There’s a contest for the designer who gets the most ‘likes’ and ‘re-pins’, so if it possesses you to do so, it would be an honor. Not being one for shameless plugs, I just hope you’ll enjoy the show!) Many thanks to Cheminne Taylor-Smith for bestowing this opportunity for me to delve deeper into my market experience and for the chance to share it with others!
Style Spotting might seem to be a breeze. Let me tell you, there was so much to see and with the showrooms being spread all over the place, I had to make determinations knowing I couldn’t sprint back to revisit all that I had seen with an award tag. Perhaps if I had a market-sized scooter! One of the other spotters shared her tip for the specially fitted Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts. I can now say I know how the stylistas navigated so many steps in mile-high heels!
One of the benefits of being a “Spotter” was the laser focus I had to conjure as I looked at market designs. Did I think they were trendy? Would the trend be a flash-in-the-pan? Were classics, while not evoking an instant “whoa!”, still the best way to go for providing timeless beauty and quality for a client’s investment? Were the price points crazy or would they meet the needs for today’s market? How many multipurpose options did furniture pieces offer? Notice how I said, “laser focus”? It didn’t mean I sailed through and planted a tag in five seconds! Loved the depth and dimension on the Elaine Smith pillows, above. They’re not only detailed in design, they’re also made for indoor/outdoor use. No worries about Fido, the kiddies, or Mr.. Sun making them feel too precious for everyday use!
Events and Parties!
Along with sourcing for clients, there were all kinds of soirees, events, and luncheons. Some were educational – proud to say I received .2 CEU’s - (continuing education units). Many were like reunions between friends, both old and new. I was on the invitation list for the Architectural Digest party and it was fun to see several designers who are considered celebrities by both laypersons and peers. I should have taken some pictures but it seemed a bit “touristy” to do so. It was a short visit as there were more parties to attend and then dinner, afterwards. (I did accomplish some work, too. I really did!)
A few instantly recognizable attendees at the AD party – Eddie Ross, Margaret Russell – Editor and Chief of Architectural Digest, and from Million Dollar Decorators, Martyn Lawrence Bullard. I spent the evening mostly chatting it up with people of whom I’ve got real life connections. Apologies for no party pics. I suppose I wouldn’t be a success as a member of the paparazzi or a celebrity stalker!
Designers Philip Gorrivan and Eileen Boyd, as well as furniture maker Edward-Ferrell’s President Jobi Blachy, provided a panel discussion that looks at designer business models, manufacturers’ pricing and the “hot button” issue of pricing transparency. When you have a nationwide/international audience, it’s a great way to get feedback. I’d say it was confirmed that designers all still providing services and fees, in our own unique ways, and what feels to be best for our clients.
An “Interesting” Shopping Experience
While Style Spotting, I had a very “interesting” showroom experience. First, I must share, I absolutely adored this product line. The reception? Not so much. You know how you get the feeling when you enter any shop or store that it’s only about taking your dollars? Well, I know it is called a “business” for a reason; however, don’t you want to buy from someone you like, and more importantly, feel a sense of trust that they’ve got your back? After spending at least forty minutes in this showroom, and at least another ten trying to explain the concept of Style Spotting, they reluctantly let me place my card at a designer’s product, telling me all the while that said designer was so “important” they would let him decide if it was okay for this product to be featured. Some nonsense about “controlling his brand”. What? In my sweet little southern way, I shared that his product had already been pinned all over Pinterest and on countless blogs and that he might want to figure out another avenue of “control”. (Thinking all the while - “Does he really want his product to sell?”) That wasn’t the kicker, though. A designer/store owner came in to discuss her dissatisfaction with her freight rate and rather than take her aside for the conversation, they had it out right in the middle of the showroom . . . and literally less than three feet of my earshot, plus others. She really had a need to be heard about her issue and he had a need to be “right” with a very intense message delivery. In the end, he pointed to the hallway and told her she could “take a walk”! That’s right. Heard it all, saw it all. Jaw-dropping experience. (And yes, I took my Style Spotter card back. It’s about my brand, too, you know?)
My question became, even though I loved the product line, what was my feeling about the process of buying from this company? Would they support me when challenges were presented with orders and would they stand behind their product so that I could optimally service my clients? I thought about how easy it would have been for that buyer to just walk away from this line, without every letting them know the reason, but she must have desired to still buy in that she made the trip to the showroom to see if she could find someone in charge to help her solve her issue. That “someone” in charge apparently set the tone for the entire organization. I don’t know the scale of the orders this company receives, but I think in the times we’re in, every order should count for something. And, really, it shouldn’t be related to the times we’re in. Good service is good service. Now, why should I return to their showroom or spec them? I’m sure the disgruntled buyer will be glad to share her experience with whomever will listen. After all, they had a great opportunity to become her hero and they blew it, in my humble opinion. Even if they were “right” about the freight issue, they missed the boat in how it was handled. It also reminded me of how it’s very important to set forth realistic expectations and to cover the details for smooth projects and happy, long-term relationships.
Happy Showroom Experiences
(While Jonathan Charles may be better known for the traditional English character of his pieces, this part of the showroom showcased a modern twist and with the emphasis on lots of brushed gold tones. Viva la glam!)
Hands-down, one of the showroom groups who really rolled out the welcome mat, as far as a huge product offering and hospitality? Jonathan Charles, Wildwood, Frederick Cooper, and Chelsea House. Although they are different vendors, they’ve joined together to give interior designers an opportunity for a one-stop-shopping venue, while providing many different styles. You’ll never feel as if your designer ordered everything from one catalog! I’m going to write a separate post to cover this tour, as there was so much to see and this post is already running pretty long! :)
(One of the lovely Wildwood Lamps, from the background of the upper photo. A traditional design meets a more modern drum shade.)
Another vendor combination who offered a fabulous tour? Hooker Furniture, along with their Sam Moore upholstery line. For those who don’t know, I happen to be one of their contributing bloggers, so it was with great anticipation that I could personally see some of the new introductions of which I had been receiving teasers! I’ll be writing more posts to cover this visit, both on my own blog as well as to share upcoming topics on: Holiday Entertaining, Making Guests Feel Welcome, and several other incubating ideas. Be sure to drop by the Hooker Furniture Blog to see what we’ve got cooking. Each week provides something new!
Sam Moore had their finger on the pulse of color and pattern! Grillwork designs are still going strong and a touch of mustard paint brings spice to the palette of yellow.
And to all good things, there must come a close . . .
Can you see that I only shared the tip of the iceberg, regarding my market visit? (And you probably feel as if you were there the whole week, too!) Seriously, there is no way to see every showroom, every rep, every event, and all that comprises the market. I have to edit, edit, edit my schedule and hope that I can find beautiful solutions for client projects. If I don’t get it all done? That’s the beauty of other designers writing blogs, posting on Pinterest, and the market updates which dust my email box, on a regular basis. And . . . some of my clients come to me with pictures of their inspirations, as well!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Mélange From Market. I promise, some of my next posts will be a little shorter. ‘Tis the holiday design push and I’ve got a lot to get done!
PS – Now booking appointments in 2012! Let’s chat about yours!