High Point Market Is Here!

There are a few different furniture markets during the year that everyone in the business attends to find the latest and greatest but I still prefer the High Point Market.   It’s the original furniture market, primarily because of its geographic location to where most of the furniture in the United States used to be made.  Even though a lot of our goods are now imported, the big companies still maintain their major presence at this market.

High Point market begins in one week.  I’ll be there scouring the showrooms for some of the best design finds and values.  In my next blog I’ll bring you some of my favorite purchases but I thought I’d give you a little background on the market before I go.

During market week, any manufacturer who has the means puts out their best displays and products to lure buyers and designers into their spaces.  It’s a fast paced week and to explain it as “sensory overload” is a huge understatement.  It covers 180 buildings and 10 million square feet of display.  It represents over 2000 manufacturers from 106 countries.   Attendance is usually in the area of about 800,000 plus buyers.

Buses, transports, taxis, rental cars, shuttles, and streets filled wall to wall with people rushing from one space to another, make for long days.  Food is fairly scarce except for light snacks and possibly a sandwich stand.  No one is eating much or enjoying the beautiful scenery outside.  Everyone is fighting the clock and trying to cover as much territory as their feet will allow.

So why do we put ourselves through this torture?  Because hidden away in a remote new showroom, lays the promise of an amazing new discovery.  And that one item can lead to an entire market trend over the next few years.   It also gives us a chance to see the new products that everyone is introducing and gives us a chance to put in our orders and become the first showrooms to have the products for sale.

In High Point you see everything.  From Indonesian imports to Christmas trees, from loungers with built-in sound systems to tables made from petrified wood.  There is no shortage of originality and it all depends on the buyer’s taste if it’s the right thing for them.

The market is only open to the trade and if you think you want to try to sneak in, you better have some pretty impressive credentials.  Most people are pre-qualified with entry passes before the week starts.  Security is everywhere and people are turned away all day long.  And if that isn’t enough, most quality showroom spaces have added another layer of security at their front doors to screen buyer’s qualifications.  Yes, there is that much business.

High Point is only open two weeks a year.  Buyers from every store in the country need to make their purchases for the next 6-12 months during that single week and the results can often determine the future of a manufacturer.   Everyone is under pressure and it’s sort of like Wall Street at 8AM on a Monday morning.  Every elevator is packed 100% of the time.  Hotels are booked up to 30 miles away and everyone is getting a premium for everything from rental cars to food.   Advertising is everywhere…the sides of buildings, buses, windows, street poles, shirts, you name it.  Companies are determined to get your attention and your dollars.  Basically, it’s insane.

Every market is a little different.  But each one brings styles, new products, and new trends.  Some people find what they’re hoping to find, some go home disappointed.  And even though everyone leaves with  really sore, aching feet, there’s that feeling of satisfaction knowing that once again you’ve conquered the beast and you’re heading home.

Interior Design Begins On The Exterior

So you’re taking advantage of the real estate market’s demise and you’ve just purchased a new home.  One of the first things you’re probably thinking about is what style you want to create for the interior.

My first suggestion is if you liked the style of the home, stick with that same style on the inside.   It always feels a little strange to me when someone buys a colonial house and furnishes it with contemporary,  minimalistic pieces.   It just comes off as a big disconnect.   Likewise, if you buy a contemporary home, keep the pieces clean and avoid all the clutter and embellishments.

When you’re designing a home, you’re creating a package.  The exterior should give the visitor a glimpse of what to expect and the interior should finish the job.  I’ve seen some of the oddest combinations over the years and often,  the only way to remedy the situation is to start over on the interior or find a new house that will more appropriately reflect your interior style.

Granted, most people have some possessions that they want to incorporate into their home from their previous home.  This can be done if you understand that some items will need to be repurposed, separated from their original location and possibly undergo refinishing or reupholstering.   If you find yourself in this category, I’d strongly suggest you seek the assistance of an interior designer to give you an objective opinion.

Every style offers a few variations so don’t feel you have to make it a “theme” house.  A casual bungalow, for example could easily be transformed into either a coastal cottage home or embrace a mission style.  A common misconception is to over-decorate a simple home, thereby dismissing the original architecture and displaying an obsessive vulgarity or overruling ambition, as Frank Lloyd Wright would call “grandomania.”

In the same thought, an elegant luxury home also needs to continue the thought.  Buying an impressive home only makes sense if you have the means and intent to complete the picture.  A good rule of thumb that I use is to budget about 25% of the home to complete the interior.   Nothing feels more awkward than enjoying a million dollar view from a $400 sofa.  Not to sound like a snob, but come on.

The same hold true for your color scheme.  The outside and inside colors need to complement each other and appear to be part of the plan…including the fabrics on the patio.   And while those painted Adirondack chairs look great on the porch of your beach house, they will look like a flea market find on the patio of your golf course estate home.  It’s like wearing a sweatshirt to a wedding.

The bottom line is to be true to your style.  Find a home that represents the style you want to create and live in and then complete the interior as part of the same design thought.  When you are done, you will have created an oasis, a place that represents who you really are and one that makes you comfortable.

 

Understanding Modern Style vs. Contemporary Style

Customers often find it very confusing to try to understand the difference between the two terms.  Some people have their own ideas or interpretations but there is only a hair’s difference between the two.  

Mies Van Der Rohe "Barcelona Chair"

The Modern style came at a time of social reform and change. It was affordable and incorporated low-cost materials and manufacturing techniques never seen before this time.   Unlike its classic predecessors, it was clean and simple and produced a profound and aesthetic effect and brought the world of furniture to a new awareness.  Furniture design would never be the same again.

Naguchi Bamboo Chair

One of the most famous schools of design, the Bauhaus school in Germany, produced many of the great designers that would later develop the “modern movement.”  Designers like Eames, Noguchi, and Mies Van Der Rohe created timeless pieces that even today, are considered masterpieces. One of the advantages of modern is that many of the pieces, carefully designed by designers, architects and engineers, offered function along with form.  Many of the pieces contained built-in storage or adjustable pieces, making it perfect for apartment or city living.  This made it particularly popular among the design and art communities.

Contemporary design did not come into play until the l970’s.  Technically, contemporary refers to a time period, such as the one we live in today.   While not acknowledged in the design world as a period of design, it brought comfort, beauty and simplicity to designs with their roots in the “modern” style.  It represents what is new and prevailing.  This could mean different things for different part of the world.   But like Modern, the lines are simple and clean and the details are uncluttered.  It represents new technology and products, most recently infused by the eco movement to go “green.”