Showrooms stretching beyond room settings
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, June 5, 2013
I recognize that for me to discuss display and design has as much credibility as my writing about successful diets, but let me try.
Some really big money these days is being spent on the showrooms in High Point, Las Vegas and elsewhere. Both markets are seeing exhibitors seeking new space and the opportunity to redecorate. Some of this is related to deferred changes over the lengthy recession while others are the result of companies changing their strategies.
One good example would be Stanley's handsome new High Point showroom in the Hamilton Wrenn district, having moved from its longstanding, high-profile showroom on the 11th floor of the International Home Furnishings Center's Commerce wing. Not only did Stanley upgrade its display, the new showroom integrates its corporate offices. The idea of displaying collections as homes goes a step beyond room settings, which are everywhere. The location also matches Stanley's recognition of the designer trade, too.
Others have upgraded showrooms to be true destinations, drawing retailers just to see how the showroom changes each market. One example would be AICO, in my opinion.
One showroom that caught my attention was angelo: HOME, which was almost hidden in a corner of the popular Surya showroom. It combined lots of color in patterns, not just solids, with bold accessories and excellent use of vertical space. It is being licensed to be matched to each retailer's needs. It offered the much discussed but seldom found "wow" factor and got the attention of an old-time marketgoer who thought he had seen it all.
Yes, I am so old that I remember when Egyptian furniture was considered contemporary. In my early days, it was not uncommon for stores to show furniture in rows of items like soldiers at attention. Chairs on top of dining tables and nightstands atop dressers were common, often with accessories on the floor. One chain put its lamps in a large floor square near the center of the store. Need a lamp? It was efficient to see the assortment.
Sometime in the early 1980s, one of the laws of furniture dictated that every retailer show in room settings; vignettes if you will. At every price point from the least to the most the trend blossomed until, like kudzu, it took over our floors.
Today people are going online, typing in an item and a price and seeing their options. To meet the needs of the smartphoners, we may have to reconsider our displays. After all, the way you see a room may not match their vision.
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