Thursday afternoon Judy and I jumped in the car and made the five hour trek up interstate 85 to the craziness that is the High Point Market. For those of you not familiar with High Point, it is a town in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, near Greensboro and Winston Salem. Just twice a year millions of square feet of showroom space come alive with everything you could possibly imagine in home furnishings presented in creative and tempting ways for the registered buyers. Each showroom has its own personality. Some feel like traditional furniture stores complete with crusty salesmen in their ill fitting dandruff dusted navy blue suits, while others dazzle with creative displays, lights, and thumping music. There are showrooms that have the exclusivity of a private club worthy of the Donald Trump set which makes you feel like something of a celebrity just to be allowed in the door. Veterans of the market know which showroom pours the stiffest drinks, which ones are serving lunch or dinner, and where the parties are being held.
The drive from Atlanta is pleasant, taking you across three states in the old South. The landscape doesn’t change much other than the gradual evolution of fast food signs. Waffle House gives a little room to Mr. Waffle and Biscuitville. Chick fil A is replaced with Mrs. Winners. There’s the giant peach on the side of the road in South Carolina and a hundred billboards for Abbot Hill Farms fresh produce and fireworks, cross promotion at its finest. There’s something for everybody there at Abbot Hill Farms. Jams, jellies, strawberries, peaches…and explosives.
For some reason Judy and I had a craving for Mexican food and when traffic slowed us down on the far side of Charlotte we took advantage of a convenient exit that was bursting with major food chains. It was the exit for Lowes Motor Speedway which illustrates the hilarity of the situation. We are on our way to see some of the finest furniture made in the world and are completely surrounded by NASCAR and tobacco. Judy spotted a little place tucked behind a gas station. It had the obligatory happy hour banner and if that weren’t tempting enough, they had a sign with a painting worthy of the cover of a Harlequin romance novel; a busty Latin woman enthusiastically offering cerveza. What more could you want? I expected a cloud of smoke to pour out when I opened the door but we were relieved to smell grease and a hint of ammonia. Perfect. I love it when my expectations are low and subsequently blown away. These folks could cook. Judy had stuffed poblanos en mole, and I had the tacos carnitas, complete with a grilled jalapeno.
Where were we? Oh yes, furniture.
I had a few things on my agenda, one of which was to check the mood of the manufacturers and see if the downturn in the economy had any impact on their offerings. I was expecting to see more natural and muted colors as a continuation of last year and further progression of the clean lines and contemporary casual styling that dominated the previous market. I also anticipated a continuation on the buildup of eco friendly products.
Given the crash of the housing market and its effects on the home furnishing industry, the overall market was in a bit of a somber mood, evidenced by the long stares of some of the reps, the relative dearth of promotional giveaways, and the unusual difficulty in getting a cocktail. Drinks are normally thrust into your hand upon entering a showroom, whether you want one or not. This year you had to feign being a player and then mention your thirst after a long day of buying. Cough cough. How much is that if I order a full container? Thirsty.
I was right about the projected environmentalism. Upholstery fabrics were made with thick weaves that screamed bohemian earth lover, whether they were eco friendly or not. The craziest thing I saw was a sofa covered in a fabric made entirely from recycled tee shirts. My friend Paul wants one. Go figure.
The area rug manufacturers are having a field day with the green movement because they get to make trendy fun rugs out of recycled plastics and offer them at a lower price. This is a double win as production costs are down and the likelihood that today’s fun rug will be replaced with a new fun rug tomorrow.
I was wrong about the colors. Color was everywhere! Maybe the manufacturers were trying to pep the market up with a spectral infusion. Last years neutrals were accented by intense jewel tones. This year the ruby’s and sapphire’s were gone but replaced by colors that were less intense and, well, a lot more fun! Orange creamsicle, daffodil yellow, deep Gulf of Mexico blue, reds that were the tone of brick but with a hint of orange. Paprika, maybe?
Pressure from a tight economy extrudes innovation from the better companies. I was happy to see that some top lines were offering lower cost alternatives in addition to their traditional excellent product. The downward price pressure has been in place for a number of years due to the competition from overseas, primarily China, so efficiency has already been a focus. What I saw this year were manufacturers of quality furnishings, typically boasting lots of custom options, introducing lines that focused on simplicity and fewer options which reduces cost without sacrificing craftsmanship.
Pressure from a tight economy extrudes innovation from the better market shoppers, too. Texting was at a fevered pitch this year as my friends scattered throughout the market and reported on their findings. Hooker is serving lasagna! The bar at Uttermost is open! Oysters at Stanley! Blood Sweat and Tears is about to start playing in front of the IHFC!
Our store is in the beginning stages of a transformation and we will be unveiling some of the new product in the next couple of months. I am really excited about it. More choice, more fabric, more price points. Stay tuned!
Posted 1 year, 6 months ago at 5:20 pm.
Do you ever wonder how trends are set or who gets to set them? The sources of some trends are easy to spot. When the TV show Friends was popular it seemed like all the girls were getting the Jennifer Anniston hairstyle at the salon. But who gets to decide that shag rugs are back in style or what colors we should paint our walls? Hey, I just tore out my wallpaper and applied a faux finish and now you tell me wallpaper is coming back? Is this just a big conspiracy to make us buy new stuff because what we have is out of style, or is it some internal drive to continually alter our environment for personal pleasure or perhaps to vainly stay one step ahead of the Jones’s?
I heard someone say the other day, “history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
I remember when we mercifully left the 70’s behind us I was sure it would be the last time we saw bellbottom jeans and that avocado green that still makes my gag reflex kick in a bit. Of course we all know that look started coming back a couple of years ago whether we wanted it or not, like another installment of the Halloween movie series. The colors were not the same rust and green of the Carter years, but they were close.
There are two big shows a year in High Point, North Carolina, where all the home furnishing manufacturers showcase their wares and unveil what’s new. The spring market is in April and the fall market is in October. I spoke to one of my upholstery manufacturer reps last week who just returned from a meeting where they were selecting the fabrics for the spring market mere weeks after the fall market closed! Conspiracy!
To be ‘in style’ is a decision you must make and, once accomplished, must be actively maintained else that status will be lost as fast as a New Years resolution. It’s much easier to pick one of the established traditional (or not so traditional) styles and stick with it. For those of you who have to be on the cutting edge, here are a couple of sources that can be used to keep you the envy of the neighborhood.
Pantone is a company that makes its livelihood through color. You can go on their website and see what is predicted this fall to be the hot colors for spring. Print out the color spectrum. Keep it around until March and compare it to those gorgeous “I wish I had that room” photos in your newly delivered home magazines. My guess is that you will be stunned, and then feel really cool that you know something most people don’t.
Understand that the new colors presented each season are typically not a fresh and random selection, but rather an evolution with perhaps one or two new introductions. The aqua that was so hot with chocolate a few years back has mellowed, gotten dusty, and separated into two colors, green and blue.
Pantone makes predictions of what they expect to be future color trends, but there’s another organization just down the road from the CIA in Virginia that makes predictions of what colors should be used to sell products more effectively. (CIA? Conspiracy?) The Color Marketing Group is a not for profit collection of experts that help decide what color car you are going to want to buy three years from now, or more accurately what color the automakers should use that we would find more attractive. They make predictions for nearly every segment of the marketplace. (How the heck do they do that?)
From what I understand, the cosmetics and fashion industries are the first to jump on these trend predictions, but the home furnishing industry isn’t too far behind. Actually, the edgier accessory companies are right in step with the fashion folks and if blue iris is the new hot color you can bet there will be blue iris lamps and pillows pumped out of the factories around the world. Even the more traditional manufacturers will incorporate hints of the newer colors in their product offerings, but it may not be as obvious. If a new product gets hot in the marketplace, they throw gasoline on it and let the fire of desire burn until it runs out of fuel. Then the committee meets to decide what you will buy next
Brands are not the only entities that use street marketing. Artists, too, are now invading streets and alleys with large scale creative marketing actions.
The artist Henk Hofsra added a bit of color to the life of the Dutch city Drachten by painting a 1 kilometer stretch of road in bright blue. Written withinin the blue in big white letters are the words “Water is life”.
At first, many might have thought that this was about raising awareness around what a precious resource water is (but in this case it is not). This road takes the exactly same route as an old water canal, and the objective of the action was to remind people of this. The water will soon be able to follow its former flow! This year the road will be destroyed and the canal will be restored as a waterway.
This project (half of which is financed by the city itself), shows how impressive and impactfull a little paint (well, 4000 liters of it to be exact) can be…
Another artist called Florentijn Hofman had a similar idea: he painted a road in Schiedam bright yellow, to symbolize the wealth this road would bring into the city once its reconstruction into a new main arterial road is complete.
And last but not least we present an operation conducted by Cristoph Steinbrener in Vienna: in one place the artist covered all the spaces usually covered by advertising billboards in yellow, to demonstrate how much space advertising occupies in our daily lives and how we hardly notice this anymore.
You might have seen plenty of advertisements on the road sides or when you have flipped over magazines. I hope that you might have just skipped most of them, but there are some cool creative advertisements which would make you look twice. To create Creative advertisements , the designer must be innovative enough to take away the attention of the audience. In this post , I have collected some of the best creative adverts which could make you think. These adverts are from various categories like technology , public services , travel , etc.
Get Them Off Your Dog (Frontline, Flea Spray)
Panasonic: Wide Angle
Your Contribution Can End Child Labour
Act Now to save the Planet
See Both sides of the story
Stranger Radio Station
Comcast : High-Speed Internet
Cemex – Fast Drying Concrete
Movistar Print Ad
AIDS Awareness – Ad campaign
Dealer Track – Tools for a competitive advantage
Find More Easily (Google)
Samsung Plasma TV Ads
Sony Widescreen TV Ads
Detal Creative Ad
WMF knives: Cutting board
Sony Xacti Water proof camera
Panasonic: Intelligent Face Detector
Beware of the H1N1 flu
FujiFilm Nobody can resist in front of a Finepix
Samsung washing Machine
Canon Cyber Shot
Routine sucks (Terra Travel)
You can lose more than your patience
Super Absorbent Kitchen Towels
Don’t Let Wood Get Old
Lays advertising 2009
If you know some good ones then do let me know via comments.