• Cindy W. Hodnett

Meredith Heron: The power of partnership

Meredith HeronMeredith Heron
TORONTO — When the subject turns to the relationship between manufacturer and designer, Meredith Heron knows what she’s talking about.

Heron is a Canadian-based interior designer who has developed fabric, wallpaper and rug collections with Crypton Fabric, JF Fabrics, MHD, and Weaver and Loom, respectively; who partnered with DXV–American Standard; and who is working on a new private label case goods collection and first book.

A frequent traveler to the U.S., Heron is well-versed on both the American and Canadian markets, and she applies careful attention to evolving her product line in conjunction with key manufacturers.

“We are working on the design for our case goods collection,” Heron said. “We have been designing custom case goods for clients for years now, but we’ve found a sweet spot with our manufacturer, and we are looking to add a few key pieces to the line. It’s still early days, but given that the design is already being done, this could be ramped up and be ready to go within the next 18 months.”

Heron said the pieces for the case goods collection will be individually distinctive but will have a modern and transitional aesthetic. A self-described “modern traditionalist,” Heron said she “walks the line” between the two styles.

“A traditional envelope often has me leaning toward something more modern and vice versa, and I like the tension of mixing and layering in a home,” she said. “Our pieces look to serve both function and style. They also suit smaller spaces but can be custom sized up to suit larger homes.

“Living in Toronto, specifically in a 15-foot-wide Victorian Row House from 1856, I am well-acquainted with the need for sizing that suits smaller homes, without compromising on function.”

As a designer, Heron said that she began creating Bespoke furniture for her clients to meet a specific size or style demand for customization preferences. She noted that the discrepancy between the U.S. dollar and that the Canadian dollar made bringing case goods into Canada more cost prohibitive than upholstery, prompting her to utilize her design skills in new ways on a case goods collection.

“Canadian manufacturers pricing can be significantly higher than U.S. (upholstery) manufacturers and may lack the choice in terms of finishing, detailing and custom embellishments,” Heron said, referencing her case goods interest. “U.S. upholstery companies, because of the size of the industry, have a faster lead time, and their infrastructure really supports designers who are working on large projects and need project management tools to facilitate delivery to receivers etc.”  

Although she frequently designs and creates one-of-a-kind pieces for her clients, Heron added that she has outstanding relationships with many manufacturers, a factor that can help an interior designer build business. The synergy between designer and manufacturer will continue to become even more important, says Heron.

“When you know that a manufacturer really and truly has your back, specifying their product is a joy,” she said. “I don’t have clients go out and sit in furniture. I do that for them. I understand and appreciate their wants and needs, and I know the product that I am specifying first hand and I know that the companies I am choosing to work with want their enjoyment and satisfaction above all else and will work with us to ensure that this is achieved. That is the industry working well.”

Heron plans to launch the rug collection with a multiphase good/better/best approach. The good/better rugs will target lower and middle price points, while best will focus more on design clients.

“Our Bespoke collection will be more exclusive,” Heron said. “Technically, the rug collection is ready for market now since the products have been designed and photographed. We’re in the midst of putting together the marketing materials and a new site for this to live on.”

With regard to challenges facing the Canadian home furnishings industry, Heron said that she would like to see more Canadian talent on display.

“Canadians have immense talent but tapping into new and unique talent can be trickier as the good manufacturers often go and show at U.S. shows such as ICFF and then get snapped up by stores who want exclusive relationships with them,” she said. “For me, if I have to buy from a retailer, it’s a deal breaker. I am working with large budgets, and paying retail doesn’t suit.

“We have amazing lighting designers and manufacturers who deal out of New York City instead of Canada,” she continued. “And I wish more case good and upholstery companies in Canada would follow the lighting designers in terms of doing their own thing vs. copying their U.S. competitors. I hope that with the popularity and visual stimulation from Instagram and Pinterest, more manufacturers will consider reaching out to designers and working with them on more unique and bespoke collections.

“The talent is here for sure.”

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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