Klaussner Furniture to launch licensed line with artist William Mangum

 North Carolina artist William Mangum, sitting in the Klaussner showroom in High Point, is working with the company on the upcoming Carolina Preserves furniture line.

ASHEBORO, N.C. — Upholstery and case goods resource Klaussner Home Furnishings plans to launch a licensed collection this year with North Carolina artist William Mangum.

Carolina Preserves is planned for the October High Point Market and will include both case goods and upholstery. There will be five sofa frames with other coordinating upholstery pieces and about 35 wood pieces.

The collection takes its name from a book Mangum published in 2000 that contains 130 original paintings of North Carolina scenes. These are shown alongside essays on their home state by 48 Tar Heels ranging from Michael Jordan and Richard Petty to Elizabeth Dole and Ruth and Billy Graham.

Inspired partly by the success of another North Carolina artist’s furniture line, the World of Bob Timberlake, Mangum said he has wanted to do a licensed furniture collection for years. Yet while he has had licensing agreements to provide artwork for some golf resorts, opportunities in the furniture industry haven’t materialized until now.

The idea took shape when Geoff Beaston, a Klaussner case goods executive and member of the team that developed the original Timberlake line for Lexington in 1990, saw an article about Mangum in the High Point Enterprise newspaper in January.

Beaston, who has been friends with Mangum for 12 years, contacted him with the idea of doing a licensed collection with Klaussner. They met that same morning and began a discussion that led to ultimately led to an agreement.

"Before we left (that meeting) in an hour, we had a gentleman’s agreement," said Mangum, who has done more than 3,000 paintings in his 35-plus year career. "As an outsider, I have watched Geoff, and have dreamed of working with this guy, who is so talented."

Beaston said he admires Mangum’s work, which ranges from scenes of the Carolina coast and mountains to scenes showcasing the state’s many university and college campuses.

"When you look at his work, it reminds you of life," Beaston said. "It speaks to memories."

"I think Bill is perfect for telling a story," he added, noting that he has been looking for a licensing partner like Mangum for the past two years he has been at Klaussner. "I have been looking for someone for someone to align ourselves with who can tell a story in an authentic way, something that made sense."

Carolina Preserves will tell a story about North Carolina in two distinct lifestyle collections, one with a coastal flair and one with a mountain lodge theme.

"The nice thing about Carolina Preserves is that it allows a broad design and style," said Bill Wittenberg, Klaussner’s president and CEO. "William Mangum captures the beauty of North Carolina like no other. Bill has done over 3,000 paintings and it allows us the inspiration from the coast to the mountains."

The line will be sourced in Vietnam. Mangum has already traveled there with the Klaussner team to develop and review samples.

Details such as wood veneers, finish and piece descriptions and pricing will come later. Officials did say that it will fit within the middle to upper-middle pricing structure of the Klaussner line.

Mangum also has developed a palette of 15 colors trends that will help guide the fabric selection.

The collection coincides with the 50th anniversary of the company, Wittenberg noted. At the April High Point Market the company unveiled a painting Mangum created of one of its North Carolina upholstery workers in Klaussner’s Asheboro, N.C. plant. The company commissioned the painting to celebrate the anniversary.

"I am extremely excited to see this collaboration and story come together at a time when our company is enjoying strong growth," Wittenberg said, adding that Mangum met with some retailers during several days at the April market and received a positive reception. Wittenberg said he believes that offering a story like Carolina Preserves to tell on retail floors will help improve margins for those retailers that carry the line.

Based on his conversations with retailers, Mangum said he thinks the collection will fill a void on their floors.

"They are yearning for something to convey to the consumer," he said. "I believe Klaussner is poised to deliver something that the market has been thirsting for for a long time."

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