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  • Cindy W. Hodnett

Lets hope exciting developments continue

Cindy W. HodnettCindy W. Hodnett UPHOLSTERY/STYLE EDITOR
Two weeks ago, nearly 500 industry leaders met in Naples, Fla., for the 17th annual Furniture/ Today Leadership Conference. Over the course of three days, attendees heard about economic trends, Proposition 65 litigation, e-commerce, design, marketing to the next generation of consumers, and forecasts for the industry.
     The fact that a record number of people took the time to come to the conference underscores the industry's desire to share best practices. From its earliest inception, the goal of the conference has been to improve the industry by providing valuable insight, and the level of expertise among participants represented some of the best minds currently at work in the furniture market.
     It was exciting. As soon as the conference wrapped up, the Furniture/ Today coverage of Showtime began. The textile version of the High Point Market had companies preparing for buyers with new collections of fabric that were nothing short of extraordinary.
    Valdese Weavers introduced one that was inspired by an artisan basket at one end of the spectrum and a stunning geisha girl on the other. The High Five mills contributed beautifully understated linens made luxurious by their exceptional hand, along with novelty prints that provide whimsical color options. De Leo Textiles showed exclusive cut velvet and geometric designs with a common theme of shape, and P/Kaufman introduced geometrics, traditional and transitional patterns that address each style segment of the furniture industry. Bella-Dura, Crypton, Covington and Sunbrella told a style and performance story that continues to attract attention from consumers, and Swavelle/Mill Creek added new Nate Berkus SKUs to the company's line.
     Throughout the Suites at Market Square, there were stop-them-in-their-tracks leather introductions, and Showtime officials said that the leather companies have become extremely important, creating an identity of a premier leather trade show for the event.
     That's exciting.
     And last week, Furniture/ Today traveled to Italy for the Milan launch of Re-Vive. In Natuzzi's stunning Milan store, company founder Pasquale Natuzzi introduced Re-Vive to an audience of several hundred people, bringing the new motion experience that had everyone in High Point talking during the October market to the streets of one of the world's undisputed design capitals.
     That's exciting too.
     There's a lot to be positive about when it comes to new supplier initiatives and to the collaborations that are taking place both on and off the factory floor. But there's still a lot of work to do when it comes to creating that same level of excitement at the retail level.
     Just as the F/T Leadership Conference functions as an education resource, so too must the suppliers act as information resources for their dealers. But equally important, the retailers must listen to their manufacturers' stories and embrace them whenever possible to create consumer excitement.
     Competition for discretionary income will continue to be fierce in the future, and when the suppliers spend their time and money on research and development, the retailers should reinforce the story behind the product.
    Imagine what would happen if furniture became a must-have purchase, bought for both form and function. Imagine what could happen if dealers and suppliers worked hand-in-hand to tell a convincing product story to the consumer.
     That might be the most exciting development of all.


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