Saturday, October 18, 2014

HIGH POINT MARKET FALL 2014: A day worthy of name dropping!

Once a year we make an all day trek back to the East coast to the largest home furnishings show in the world, The High Point Market in High Point, NC. We make this trek only to trek through 12 million square feet of showrooms and factories scattered over the entire city center and in the adjacent small towns and burgs.

Now I must tell you, the people here are lovely in everyway, with manners to spare! It reminds me of why I love the South and Southern ways!

We had a look at Aerin, the line of home furnishings by Aerin Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder fortune and granddaughter of the grand dame herself, Estee Lauder. Our sales rep shared Aerin's motto with us: "Beauty is my families history, but home furnishings are my passion".

Aerin Lauder with a console and lamp she designed that was featured in Architectural Digest.

I'd say we had high expectations for Ms. Aerin, as a descendant of her uber powerful grand mum who was the only woman listed on Time Magazine's 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century!

Above: Estee Lauder applies makeup to a client (1966)

The collection was nice, very nice. It seems the heiress has real panache in the home furnishings arena. Her look is fresh with a confident take on mid-century modern and Asian antique furniture, as well as in lighting.

Lacquered Cabinet with doors covered in burlap with gold-leaf overlay- interesting
Lauders take on this mid century modern desk is executed in mahogany on brass legs
Aerin has designed a handsome line lighting that includes the sconces shown, above and below. 


As in her lighting collection, Lauder uses sinuous lines throughout her collection such as in the chairs, above, and in the design of the circular pattern on the legs of the occasional table, below

Below: Detail of the tables base, shown in solid, cast brass.  

And more name dropping: Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lifshitz- no shitz!). Pictured below, a handsome Mr. Lauren as photographed several years ago.
Lauren's showroom featured slick lacquered finishes and mahogany on pieces like the new Duke Bar and the Avalon Bedroom Group.

Shown: A pair of bars. Above, a lacquered bookcase opens to reveal mahogany detailing and polished nickel hardware. Below: A mahogany chest opens on each side and at the top for bar service.

Below: The Avalon Bedroom Collection 

The collection included a nod to Mr. Lauren's casual/ranchy side with the introduction of an unfinished wood dining table base with glass top, shown with unfinished wood chairs with rush detailing and saddle leather seats and back.  

Shown below: The North Atlantic Coast Dining Table is an addition to the unfinished offerings in the new Ralph Lauren Home collection.

We love the new RL pine chest, shown below, with oversized nail head detail that would make a great bedside piece.
And then there was Calvin Klein, most famous for his ads featuring a pubescent Brooke Shields in jeans, and his hard bodied boys in underwear, is now in the furniture business, joining the furniture league already populated by fellow rag business guru Giorgio Armani.  
Mr. Klein looking his age, finally!

First famous for his sensational Calvin Klein Jeans ads featuring an early teen Brooke Shields, seductively and scandalous for the times, uttering the words, "You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvin's?" 

I don't want to know what comes between he and his Calvin's! Mark Wahlburg when he was known as Marky Mark.
The collection featured clean lines, eliminating unnecessary details, which is a hallmark of Klein. The stunning stools shown below are leather topped with bronze frame, and a wooden folding camp stool with saddle leather seat.  

The Sectional, Cube stools, Cocktail table and Square Ottoman, below, are classic Calvin Klein with clean lines and a keen sense of proportion.

The bedroom chest below features a clean lined mahogany exterior which opens to reveal leather drawer fronts.

The trend towards brass furniture, lighting and accessories was present at Calvin Klein as well. The solid brass table below is sturdy in construction but light in appearance.

It seems as if furniture designers all have to take a turn at designing their own version of the classic Knoll Barcelona Chair. Pictured below, Klein's chair features a stainless steel base with channel leather upholstery.
An finally: Thayer Coggin, is the man behind the real mid-century furniture in America, began manufacturing in 1953.
Mid-century furniture manufacturer Thayer Coggin with his pooch, and Designer Milo Baughman with two of the Baughman's iconic designs.
A vintage ad featuring Baughman, second from right, with fellow designers.
Coggin hired Distinguished Design Award honoree Milo Baughman who created some of the most recognizable furniture designs in the world.
Two of Milo Baughman's iconic designs
We bought into the line for the first time this week after having sold several pieces of Thayer Coggin furniture via special order over the last few years.

Two of our purchases included the stunning "Z" chair, above, and a Sectional.

The company remains family owned with Coggin's daughter, Royal, at the helm. The youngish Ms. Coggin is reintroducing many of the iconic designs that are still hand made in their North Carolina factory here in High Point, NC.
Above: Classic sideboard with book matched burled wood drawers and a marble top. 

Above: A stunning pair of Swivel Club Chairs in handsome russet leather.
Okay, okay...enough of the name dropping BS! let's have some fun. We found these bar stools, pictured below, with wrought iron bases and cork seats made to look like wine bottle corks.
And, what would my market report be without giving you a taste of the "worst in show"? Do you think a chair upholstered in silver metallic vinyl with sparkling rhinestone button tufting qualifies?  
All for now. Join me tomorrow for more on the High Point Market.
Good night moon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NEW YORK NOW- Day 2: Official Opening Day of the Show - Before Noon


The show opened with an astounding shift in focus, at Pier 94, typically reserved for the higher-end, more interesting and expensive home furnishings. We checked in and were immediately in the middle of what was billed as, NY NOW- Artisan Resource Show, a first for me on my annual treks to this Big Apple show. The show was organized with the help of by hand consulting, a private consulting company that aligns buyers sourcing new artisan products with the artisan enterprises seeking those buyers.

Artisan Resource, which was created as a first-of-its-kind artisan production-sourcing event to fill what the show’s producers see as an increasing demand for handmade artisan and socially responsible products.
Artisan Resource exhibitors were selected for their commitment to design innovation, cultural preservation, social enterprise and sustainability.

The show premise was that an artisan resource should include community participation in each product, allow the process to be shown in the design and product and homespun impurities to be shown, for the artisan’s touch to be seen, for the maker’s name and story to be highlighted and to keep artisan craftsmanship, traditional methods, techniques and cultural heritage thriving.

Exhibitors were mostly from countries that are very rarely if ever represented at an international trade show included Afghanistan, Brazil, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.  
Product categories included Gift, Home D├ęcor, Textiles, Tabletop, Stationery, Jewelry, and Fashion Accessories made from materials of ceramics, glass, metal, leather, natural fibers, recycled materials, and paper.

There were three exhibitors that stood out to us as exemplary: ECHOstore from the Philippines, Wayra from Peru, and Azizi from Rwanda.

We were particularly impressed with ECHOstore (Environment & Community Hope Organization), which showcased the textile-based products of the GREAT Women Project (Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women), groups or tribes of woman that are indigenous to the Philippines. They had rolls of beautiful Inabel textiles (a hand woven textile that is intimately connected to the people who create them) made by the tribeswomen, woven and dyed using vegetable dyes.

According to an article on, Inabel fabric is hand woven on ancient looms by Filipino women. It takes 2 weeks just to set up a pattern on a loom and a loom can produce only about 2 meters of fabric a day. The process is intricate and time-consuming, but the fabrics are positively gorgeous. 

Today, there are less than ten Inabel master weavers alive. They warn that within a generation, the Inabel tradition may vanish - unless we do something about it. To learn more follow this link:   

ECHOstore gives market access to small or marginalized groups, gathering local products that represent ideals of health, fair trade, and care for the environment. Products highlight and support local cultural traditions, and artisan skills.

ECHOstore also created Echo Design Lab (EDL), a program of that addresses the sustainability, “leveling/valuing products up” by refining them or suggesting new designs; helps the group with visual identity development and new packaging; highlights their unique stories; helps create more products for a global and lifestyle market. Materials and their sources are also studied, as well as new product variants that could be developed from the existing products.


We also loved learning about Wayra (means wind in the native language Quechua- the native language of
the Incas), is one of the biggest producers of organic textiles and the only certified fair-trade company in
The only certified fair trade company in Peru? Just one? Wow!

The company was founded just nine years ago by Mercedes Benavides, when she wanted to create jobs for women in small mining communities in the highlands of Peru. She gathered the women of the villages to discuss different sustainable opportunities to create an income for them and after some pondering they all agreed that their special skill was to make beautiful Christmas ornaments that they could sell. The cheerful ornaments were the start of a company that today sells their products the world over.

Wayra has expanded to produce handmade textiles for custom and private label textiles using natural, luxurious fibers such as alpaca wool, cotton, wool and other Peruvian blends, producing throws, bed blankets, pillows, shams, sweaters, gloves, shawls, scarves, hats and many other hand knitted, hand loomed, and hand crocheted products that are sold around the globe.

I felt a particular kinship to this next organization, Azizi Life,  because their program was based in Rwanda. We had supported (in a small way) a program through our church, All Saints by the Sea in Montecito, CA, which provided farm animals to woman who had survived the genocide in Rwanda, who are now widows raising their children. As a matter of fact, one Christmas when my daughter had put a designer handbag on her Christmas list, we opted instead to give her a certificate for one goat that was given in her name to the woman of Rwanda! To her credit, she seemed to cherish that gift.

Azizi Life's vision is: "to participate in local initiatives for the development of Rwandan
communities working towards physical and spiritual wholeness for all"

Artisans are paid an agreed-upon fair wage as soon as their products are received by the organization. The additional income from the sale of their art allows the craftspeople & their families to afford many things that they struggled to get before such as medical insurance, school materials for their children, soap and other cleaning products for hygiene, better food and diet improving nutrition, and even farm animals that provide manure which improves soil quality and crop yield.

The financial independence to purchase these kinds of things provides a real sense of security and hope for the future for the artist and her whole family, and the organization of the various groups of artisans breeds community and helps to heal the pain that so many in this county suffered.

Another exhibitor that really took our eye, and our first order was Makaua, which means "hand to hand", and "giving a hand" in the ancient Nahuatl (Aztec) language. Made from the sustainable palm fiber form Southern Mexico. The company was started in 2002 and today numbers over 700 people.

A great color palette was key to our interest.

Elegant thin wall construction.

We loved the woven Ottomans, available in any of their color combinations. 

We loved the scale of the baskets, the color blocking and the numerous options for each.
The Ottomans came in three sizes, medium size Ottoman shown above. 

Not all of the artisan exhibitors were non-profits, and one of our favorites was Manifest Destiny, a contemporary jeweler from India founded in just 2012. The jewelry is cast in bronze from designs that begin as clay sculptures.


We bought some well priced artisan made throws (photo, below) from some young guys representing their family's firm, Saurashtra, back in Jaipur. We had to buy from what they physically had at the show, or miss out- so we got down on the floor and made our selections.
A humorous vendor was Loopy Mango, photo below. She had knitting kits that came with giant skeins of yarn and giant wooden knitting needles with which to knit them.

Also at the Pier, but not part of Artisan Resource was LuLu DK (Lulu deKwiatkowski), our friend and fabric designer from Los Angeles. Lulu is known for her colorful fabrics- for both indoors and outdoors, as well a children's textile collection, and a collection of luxury sheeting from Cabana Home bedding vendor, MATOUK New York.

LuLu DK Designer, Lulu de Kwiatkowski,

LuLu DK Designer, Lulu de Kwiatkowski, gives me the thumbs up at the mob scene at her booth.

So, yes we were surprise when we spotted Lulu in the middle of a mob scene- I figured a press event  for the photogenic designer but on closer examination, after we'd jockeyed our way through the crowd, she was selling only the latest trend, Flash Tattoos!

Just the day before this, while sitting on the beach with our daughter in St. Martin, she was telling me about these new "Flash Tat's" (temporary metallic tattoos that look like jewelry). "So cool", she exhorted, just the day before! So, Lulu, you were on it!

Sales girls in the swamped LuLu DK booth show of their "Flash Tat's".
Whew, what a fun morning! Yes, that was just the first half of the day. Stay tuned for "NEW YORK NOW- Day 2: Official Opening Day of the Show - After Noon.

Before I go, I have a Worst of Show for you, though I kind of don't want to show it because I'm embarrassed for us all - it was made in America!
Why couldn't it have been made in Ghana, or Micronesia?
Anyway, here goes:

Good night moon