Monday, April 25, 2011

networking 2

I heard many times that Highpoint is the most popular city for furniture markets and the show opens two times a year but I had not opportunity to look at it until now. Robert, Meg and I went there on April 5th. My first impression was “Wow”. I was kind of shocked because I did not expect a city-looking downtown and all downtown was a furniture showroom. We did not know where we were going, so we went into International Home Furnishings Center.

As an IAR librarian, I have had lots of chances to look at magazines to deliver to the library. While I took a look, I wrote down some companies and product lines to use for my future project or personal use. I was expecting to see real product at the show.

We had to stop by at Shiner because of their eye-catching product lines that, their bed and sofa were swinging itself just like a cradle. Their products were so popular. Many people stopped by to get brochures, business card, take a picture and question to clerks. I decided to talk with them. So I looked around their showroom. They had interesting lighting lines that people could make themselves but never tried. They made lighting frame with cardboard. The light structure was quite rare. They stacked cardboard vertically and glued them and stretched cardboard to see its grains so light came through it.

I asked the clerk about concept and their design policy. He asked the designer Joe Manus had inspired his first black eye when he was a child and ever since, the shiner has been his personal emblem for something tough, dark, and proudly damaged. He brought his emblem or idea to the manufacturing techniques and brutal aesthetic that earned his reputation for high-end boutiques and nightclubs in Atlanta, Georgia, to his first collection of modern, eco-friendly furnishings. It’s dirty, sexy, clever, and dark. We continued the conversation. I asked about eco-friendly furnishing. I thought it was related to federal regulation or sustainable material or LEED credits. He said eco-friendly furnishing is their goal to transform tons of landfill-destined materials into killer designs. By building heirloom pieces out of disposable elements, they refine the future by upcycling the past. Everything from their product such as steel, hardwoods, and cardboard to their lexan and linen is diverted from the incinerator. So Shiner vision has become contagious and has led to strategic partnerships with refuse and recycling leaders. He wanted to talk with us more but he had to leave to greet real customers.

We were so excited to have experience which felt we are already designers and walked around to buy furniture. The show organized by floor with furniture, fabric, textile, accessories and so on. I remembered Nuevo from the magazine, and their showroom was exactly same as the magazine. Their modern and contemporary furniture style were leather sofas, chairs, steel benches, tables, modern lighting and decor. They looked specialized in modern classic furniture, contemporary dining, living room, bedroom and outdoor furniture. I really liked their products because contemporary and good quality materials, revolutionary approaches to furniture concepts, ultra-modern styling, and minimalist, yet outstanding decorating schemes set Nuevo Furniture apart and give credence to everything this company designs. However, all of their products were extremely expensive. There was no furniture below $800, even a simple standing light cost $ 300. I could not talk with them but I got lots of inspiration from their product.

I was looking for Lisa Sherry Interiuer to meet my mentor Kathryn and my friend Lily. I knew Lily was working there as an intern and I promised to visit her and to see the firm’s work by myself. For my research paper, I just emailed Kathryn and Lisa to get information about their project and their thinking so I wanted to visit and thank them. That was my part of plan. However, the showroom, whole down town, was too big to walk around to find their spot, even though I had a map. We gave up visiting them and just enjoyed the market.

While I walked around, everything caught my eyes and we had so much fun each showroom that we lost count of time. I went to student work showroom. I guess many professional people handed in their design for competition or exhibit, but SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) students will participate for Furniture Design Summit 2011 so it was a kind of pre-exhibition for their department showcase. Their subject was “Re-defining American Design.” The SCAD furniture design department will present the first summit focused on bringing designers and manufacturers together in a forum to discuss the past, present and future of the furniture industry. I really liked their design because they looked more amateur compared to other furniture, but more fresh and creative. The worker there said opportunities for industry collaboration and domestic and international exhibitions of student work form a valuable aspect of the program at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students exhibit their work at national and international furniture trade shows including Italian Trade Commission, High Point Market, DeRose Design, and Urban Outfitters. I was surprised school supports students and cooperates with national and international companies to turn out excellent future designers.

I kept trying to talk with someone who representing their company but we barely talked with them. It was not set up to sell one-off pieces and they were looking for large orders from retail customers. I realized they generally do not want to take time to deal with small buyers or students. I really wanted to ask about trend, how this furniture show affects their business, how it works between company and retail customer.

We could not go around all furniture showrooms but it was a great time to take a look furniture market, have lots of inspiration for my future project, and talk with people in the furniture market. I really enjoyed the show and I will try to go the second furniture show in this year.

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