Interior designers are now sought after at trade shows across the U.S. and most markets have implemented a number of programs and services to attract more members of the design trade to their showrooms. The following designers talked about their show experience, how they shop, and benefits of the markets they attend.
WHAT MARKETS HAVE YOU VISITED OVER YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN CAREER?
Lydiane Interdonato, Stellar Interiors, Great Neck, N.Y.: The Architectural Digest Home Design Show, Collective Design Fair, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, NYCxDesign. Art markets include Art Miami, The Armory Show, Affordable Art Fair, Art Expo, Art Southampton, and Art Hampton.
Lori Miller, Lori Girl Creations, Long Island, N.Y. : I usually attend the High Point Market in April as well as the International Gift Show at the Javits Center, The Home Furnishings Show.
Claire Bell, Chic Abode Interiors & Remodeling, Atlanta, Ga. : Atlanta and High Point.
Barbara Gilbert, Barbara Gilbert Interiors, Dallas, Texas: During my interior design career, I have visited Dallas Market, High Point Market, and Las Vegas Market.
DO YOU SOURCE SPECIFIC PRODUCTS AT SPECIFIC MARKETS OR DO YOU SHOP FOR EVERYTHING EACH TIME YOU VISIT?
LI: Markets vary dependent upon the client because each client is different. I believe interior design should pervade the authenticity of each client and truly be reflective of individuality.
LM: I definitely source specific products for jobs that I am having a hard time with and looking for a specific product, but I also peruse everything just in case I need it in the future.
CB: I source rugs, accessories and case goods in Atlanta. High Point is great for everything, but I especially use it for lines not shown in Atlanta. I make a point of prioritizing lines with reps that are friendly, accessible and helpful. My business and its success are built on relationships, so this is very important to me.
BG: Thousands of designers flock to Dallas Market to see restyled showrooms with new items and to get new ideas for the season. This is not only a time to shop a variety of showrooms, but also to run into colleagues, designers, and builders and hear their take on the industry. I focus on accessories, bedding, and lighting as Dallas Market does not have any of the major furniture vendors.
IN TERMS OF RUGS, DO YOU FEEL CERTAIN MARKETS ARE STRONGER THAN OTHERS? IF SO, WHERE DO YOU DO MOST OF YOUR BUYING?
LI: Most of my buying is dependent on the specific needs of the clients. I primarily buy through my main sources that cater to needs and demands of the job; this is dependent on allocated budget and design objective of the client.
LM: I usually use my local flooring experts but I have picked up a line or two at High Point.
CB: I love both High Point and Atlanta markets. I discovered a rug vendor called Creative Touch at the Suites at Market Square in High Point last season. They offer rugs on loan, excellent selections and great customer service. Both in High Point and in Atlanta, I find the Loloi showroom very user-friendly and accommodating. I also depend on Surya heavily during markets to source not only rugs, but the accent pillows and artwork that complete the look. Jaipur also makes very strong, trend-forward offerings.
BG: High Point is where we first see new products, and those items do make it to Dallas Market, usually within six months. Because of the convenience, we purchase the majority of our rugs in Dallas — the North Carolina show is only twice a year, and I need floor coverings much more often than that.
WHICH MARKETS DO YOU FEEL ARE GEARED TOWARD INTERIOR DESINERS? WHY?
LI: NYCxDesign, Collective Design Fair, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and Architectural Digest Home Design Show. The premise for these events is interior design so they primarily cater to interior designers to showcase their latest products.
LM: The gift show does consider interior designers primarily in the accessories department; High Point of course is all designers, as is the home furnishings show.
CB: There is an ongoing feeling of appreciation in the air for designers at High Point — we held some manufacturers together during the recession, and they have not forgotten. My one wish would be that markets encourage vendors who are not already doing so to offer designers competitive pricing and reasonable minimums to open. Why not empower designers and store owners equally? Everyone is just competing against the Internet and Restoration Hardware, anyway.
BG: Both Dallas Market and High Point Market are geared toward designers, but I feel that focus more so at the latter. I’ve noticed when a vendor sees that my team and I have traveled from Dallas to North Carolina, they know I am a serious designer and I am usually able to negotiate better pricing.
Thomas Lester covers rugs, top-of-bed and a variety of other topics for Designers Today. In addition, he covers these subjects for several of Progressive Business Media’s properties, including Furniture/Today, Home Accents Today and Kids Today. He’s been a professional journalist since 2000, covering everything from local and major collegiate sports to local government, schools, crime and courts.
When he’s not working, Lester enjoys spending time with his wife and son, running, reading, watching football and baseball and playing music. He’s a decent enough bass guitarist and he’s starting to get the hang of the six string.