Home Decor vendors make a statement at Premarket
HIGH POINT — This week’s record-setting Premarket numbers – with more than 350 showrooms opening their doors – was boosted by the first-time participation of a number of home decor exhibitors. Manufacturers of rugs, lighting, wall decor, accent furniture and decorative accessories took advantage of the opportunity to meet with the regulars – large retailers accompanied by teams of category buyers – along with a small contingent of independents and interior designers who got a chance to peruse new intros and get a jump on ordering.
Masked buyers and exhibitors adhered to market and state COVID-19 safety rules, stopping for temperature checks at the IHFC’s main entrances, maintaining safe distancing, and limiting hospitality to pre-packaged snacks, drinks and sandwiches. Parking lots were full, welcome signs were out and food trucks were strategically stationed outside the IHFC and Showplace.
Business-wise, most of the home decor manufacturers were telling the same story: “sales came to a halt in March … everything stalled from March to May … sales caught fire in June … everybody was shopping … pent-up demand.” Some, like furniture manufacturers, are struggling with supply and distribution problems, but they’re traveling less and have had a lot of time to find alternative solutions, experiment with technology, develop new product and examine their business operations. Shifts in staffing and marketing direction are taking place, there’s a big focus on virtual technology, with new faces and names popping up on the collaboration front.
One of those names is Shayla Copas, whose debut collection of lamps, accent tables and decorative accessories was on display at Chelsea House’s 200 North Hamilton showroom. Among the standouts in the Arkansas-based designer’s collection, which includes furniture, accessories, mirrors and lighting, is a golden honeybee adorned line of porcelain lamps, jars and three-dimensional display tables. As the newest member of the Chelsea House design team, Copas joins Creative Director Bradshaw Orrell and interior designers Jamie Merida and Claire Bell, whose signature styles embrace modern sophistication, classic artisanal and architectural elements, and Eastern Shore elegance.
Port 68 welcomed North Carolina artist and fabric designer Jill Seale to its newly relocated and expanded Interhall showroom Monday for the unveiling of a new collaboration that pairs eight of Seale’s designs with Port 68’s accent seating, mirrors, lamps and wall décor. The debut offering features four of Seale’s hand-marbled silks, three marbled prints, and a new pagoda and bamboo repeating design. Seale’s watercolors and hand-marbled fabric designs are also in collections at Fairfield Chair (Libby Langdon), Norwalk Furniture, Wesley Hall, and Company C (rugs).
Early Sunday, on the fourth floor of the IHFC, Crestview Collection’s David Lee welcomed appointments while overseeing the setup of Crestview’s new lifestyle collections. In what’s shaping up to be a major new direction for the company, curated vignettes are anchored with fashion-forward accent chairs (a new category for the company), and an elevated offering of case goods in a variety of washes, finishes and styles.
Sagebrook was exhibiting in its new expanded showroom, where an offering of 700 new intros shared space with selections from the company’s 10,000-plus inventory of lamps, furniture, wall decor, sculpture, decorative accessories, planters, garden decor and mirrors. Marketing Director Serena Martin said the company, which was open for the summer markets in Las Vegas, Dallas and Atlanta, is now conducting virtual showroom tours for customers and is seeing an uptick in international business as a result.
Mixed metals are popular and buyers seem to be drawn to heavier, more substantial pieces, Martin said. Also, decorative items and themes that suggest a connection to science and travel are moving well – decorative globes, magnifying glasses, seafaring and nautical themed accents, and animal imagery. Especially hot, thought, are sculptures and figurines of people, families and faces. “At this time, when people aren’t able to spend a lot of close time with friends and family, these have become popular as gifts and symbolic decorative pieces – it’s such a nice way to give, and to communicate love of family and friends, and tell individual stories through home decor,” she told HNN.
Luxury European furniture and décor distributor Conarte America also welcomed visitors this week, showcasing handcrafted and luxury furniture, linens, printed and stamped Italian leather hides, and blown glass lighting and accessories in its factory showroom at 827 Green Street. The artisanal one-of-a-kind products represented by Conarte in America are managed by company vp Olga Terentieva, who said the High Point showroom is open to the trade year-round. Current lines include iconic Italian brands such as Vistosi (Murano glass lighting), Genus and Lago (solid wood, hand carved furniture), DEA (high quality linens), and from Spain, luxury furniture brand Coleccion Alexandra.
At Norwalk Furniture, a Premarket newbie, it almost looked like business-as-usual. Norwalk President Caroline Hipple, resplendent in a statement-making fashion vest made from ruffled black mosquito netting, said she began preparing for the potential pandemic fallout as early as January, placing an order for eight months worth of the company’s best selling fabrics. It was a good move. “We’re a domestic manufacturer, we’re shipping in 39 days, most of our goods are from America,” Hipple said, “But now there’s a big demand on those goods.”
In early spring, when the company had to furlough workers, Norwalk partnered with local hospitals to make gowns and masks. “We brought our cutters, sewers and pattern makers back and made those, which not only contributed to the communities but helped feed our souls,” she said.
Norwalk opened its showroom for the summer Las Vegas Market and, thanks to planning, had a better market than the prior year. “Here (in High Point), we’ve reached out to our customers, and are offering private appointments and a curated experience, pretty much through the October Market,” Hipple said.
For fall, Norwalk has amped up its color palettes with deep, dark greens; mixed dusty lavender with lichen green, slate blue gray and celadon; introduced warm caramel tones across the Norwalk and Kim Samela collections; and expanded its selection of performance fabrics and leathers. Also taking shape is a new line of upholstered beds and creative takes on motion – swivel stools, club chairs and recliners – and roll-out/hideaway beds.