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Designer Thomas O'Brien a hit at Gabberts

180 consumers attend talk at Minnesota store

Heath E. Combs, Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, June 10, 2010

 Steve Platt, left, Gabberts, Edina., Minn., sits with designer Thomas O’Brien and Jay Reardon of Hickory Chair on O’Brien’s Darcey sofa ($5,839 retail), part of the new Library Collection by Hickory Chair. The collection’s Lorenzo cabinet is in the background.Steve Platt, left, Gabberts, Edina., Minn., sits with designer Thomas O’Brien and Jay Reardon of Hickory Chair on O’Brien’s Darcey sofa ($5,839 retail), part of the new Library Collection by Hickory Chair. The collection’s Lorenzo cabinet is in the background.
 Designer Thomas O’Brien, left, signs a copy of his book “American Modern” for Minneapolis residents Elizabeth and Patrick O’Connell (with daughter Nora) during an event this month at Gabberts in Edina, Minn.Designer Thomas O’Brien, left, signs a copy of his book “American Modern” for Minneapolis residents Elizabeth and Patrick O’Connell (with daughter Nora) during an event this month at Gabberts in Edina, Minn.
EDINA, Minn. — Consumers packed a room at upscale retailer Gabberts here this month to hear home furnishings and interior designer Thomas O'Brien share his thoughts on design and decorating, and show photos from a new book featuring some of his work.

O'Brien, who has collections of furnishings and other home goods with Hickory Chair, Target and other companies, is known for his blending traditional and vintage style with modern.

He took consumers on a photo tour of "American Modern," his new book showing some of the favorite spaces in his homes in Long Island and Manhattan as well as in his clients' homes. O'Brien stood near some on his furniture pieces with Hickory Chair, including a living room setting from the new Library collection.

The designer told the consumers he believes in "repurposing things and reusing as much as you can," which goes hand-in-hand with his practice of putting a modern spin on vintage styles.

"I do love old and new things together and I kind of push the boundaries with that sometimes," he said.

O'Brien's visit to Gabberts came at a good time, said Steve Platt, general merchandise manager for the store, which was acquired by Coon Rapids, Minn.-based HOM Furniture in Sept 2008. He said the store has had a great start to 2010, with sales up 29.5% from a year ago.

"Every month this year has been in the double digits," Platt said, adding that he hopes to keep the momentum going.

Gabberts reports that it is seeing dividends from the leverage it gained by becoming part of the 15-store HOM group, including better advertising buys and more efficient delivery.

About 180 consumers attended O'Brien's presentation, which was followed by a reception and book signing. Three lucky guests won two-hour in-home design consultations from the retailer along with $100 Gabberts gift cards.

Check back at furnituretoday.com later this week to watch a video of portions of O'Brien's talk.

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