SINGLE PURPOSE CITY?
Indeed, the assertion makes for entertaining conversation. Growing up in North Carolina, I had heard of the High Point Market, alas I had no concept of its impact on not only the Southern Highlands but the world as well. Most of the year, High Point looks like a ghost town when compared to the significant metropolitan city feel of the Market in session. Each April and October, the design world comes to High Point. Once the world's designers, editors, bloggers, and publicists arrive at High Point Furniture Market for a week (or more) to peruse the latest furniture designs, the town explodes with activity and excitement, the attendees consorting within the multitude of foodie offerings, libations, and associated events in various showrooms. With this Spring's market (April) in the rearview mirror, we share the interesting, lovely, and our favorite details from this unique phenomenon, High Point, and The Market.
The first formal Southern Furniture Market was held in High Point in March 1909. In 1921, the Southern Furniture Exposition Building (at a cost estimated at $1million allowed for 249,000 square feet of showroom space) opened for its first show. Regular shows were held in January and July. Except for 1943, the market was put on hold from 1941 until the end of World War II.
A Duke University study released in 2013 estimated the annual economic impact of the High Point Market at $5.39 billion, more than three and a half times the amount calculated in earlier studies. Seventy-five years later the market, open only to those in the industry, typically draws between 70,000 and 80,000 participants for each of the two annual events. The High Point Authority has, in essence, made it's self a "Niche" city. Specializing in a single service industry has created a global power base in furniture merchandising.
Much like the daily cravings experienced by millions of coffee and chocolate lovers, so is the draw to The Market, nirvana for lovers of interior design. Legions of workers make this biannual event run like a Swiss clock. The Market is not open to the general public, which is part of the mystique. Your first stop, unless you're driving and parking in a reserved lot, is the hub for transportation - The Bus Terminal (click to enlarge) closely resembles the drop off at Chicago O'Hare airport. Next, it's time to pick up your pass/badge before heading off to High Point's 11.5 million square feet of showrooms. The Showplace building (pictured above) is just one of the 180 buildings filled with 2,000 showrooms (center image).
One of the Market's iconic buildings dominates a good bit of the skyline (right image); A former furniture factory that has been transformed into unique upscale showrooms, Market Square is North Carolina's largest adaptive-use building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to an array of high-end furniture and home décor brands.
So much to do and so little time. Businesses who rent or own showroom space do yeoman's work weeks before each Market, pouring over minutiae to get everything just right in order to showcase new offerings to buyers, press, and others. When the Market concludes, it's time to begin thinking on next Market. Everyone at the High Point Market works hard, take it from my aching feet, and we play hard too. The good news? Events, food trucks, charcuterie and more abound, not to mention famous designers, TV stars (Property Brothers), Comedians (Jeff Foxworthy) and more.
April 2018 Top Picks
Brad Cates, the new President & Ceo quickly placed his mark on the company by brilliantly consolidating to be a more efficient resource for designers, retailers, and consumers. They now have four collections, four core finish colors and four fabrics. Curate Home's calling card is mixed material, and they do it better than anyone in the world. Because they are Southeast Asian based, they have a lot of natural resources from which to draw. The company and partner factories go all the way back to the foundation of McGuire Furniture: Reed, ratan, mixed with metals, traditional elements all the way through contemporary transitional. They just introduced bamboo as a collection at the April Market - It's REALLY, REALLY HOT! It's all about consolidating what they have, what they do best and having everything offered in stock. Today's consumer really does not want to wait and they are being shown a lot of eclectic mix and match concepts that take time. Whether you're a designer or a consumer, curating the look takes a while to bring together. For Curate Home, getting four core finishes jointly coordinated across the rooms allows for a more expeditious path to curate the look rather than shopping flea markets or the old hunt and peck method.
Since 1921, Fairfield has been Totally North Carolina. Just ask Alvin Daughtridge, VP and the company historian who has been with Fairfield 51 years. Mr. Daltry is one of the most enjoyable people you will ever have the good fortune to spend time with. A communicator extraordinaire, his font of knowledge for all things Fairfield, Lenoir, and Hickory, NC past to present is vast. Like an artist, he weaves all of the pieces together into a gorgeous tapestry of mental images.
A leading US manufacturer of top quality upholstered seating, the company sports expert craftsmen including second- and third-generation employees. Still family owned with three factories in Lenoir, NC, the company is firmly rooted in the community. Interesting fact - "Fairfield" is named after the town the family lived in Pennsylvania before their move to North Carolina.
Not inclined to sit on their laurels, recently Fairfield has committed over 2 million in their wood manufacturing facility by investing in new equipment. Almost a one-hundred-year-old facility has now added State-of-the-Art equipment such as five-axis routers, a tech lab, digital scanners, 3-D printers along with low tech, hands-on craftsmanship in the same facility.
Even though Dixon Mitchell was just recently named President and Chief Operating Officer, he and his team put together a phenomenally impressive showroom for April 2018 highlighted by the Live Edge Collection. This collection must be seen to be appreciated.
The roots of the three men who started EJ Victor and for whom the company is named - ( Edward W. Phifer III, Joseph B. Manderson and John Victor Jokinen, President) twenty-eight years ago can be traced back to their days as Henredon men. With EJ Victor, they wanted a privately owned, high end, and luxury furniture maker that was still holding on to their roots - a company controlled by people in Western North Carolina.
They started out focusing primarily on traditional18th-century reproductions, and it remains a strong market for European customers today. Transitional is the word for American and Canadian tastes running a little more modern, contemporary, and updated. Today's EJ Victor is nimble, with the ability to change with the times. All of the company's facilities are steadfastly grounded in the vibrant downtown community of Morganton, NC in the WNC foothills.
In 2008 EJ Victor began a partnership with the famous designer and American success story, Ralph Lauren. EJ Victor makes all of their upholstered furniture, and work on designing Lauren's case furniture as well. The Spring 2018 Market saw the Ralph Lauren/EJ Victor collaboration as a BIG part of the showroom, and for good reason. Lauren maintains his well deserved kudos as a top American designer.
When we toured, the showroom was abuzz with excitement, packed with visitors enthusiastically mingling and touring the collections. There was much to love about EJ Victor's showroom. Always on point, the Kate Spade New York designs:
Okay, this is a clear departure from our focus on High Point Market businesses hailing from the Southern Highlands. Why? Hudson Valley Lighting. Mitzi. Troy Lighting. Corbett Lighting. These four brands have been crafting world-class lighting fixtures for over fifty years. Covering a vast range of styles and categories, the brands are united by their commitment to quality, thoughtful design, and obsessive attention to detail. Visually rich materials and beautiful use of layering result in fixtures of sophistication that win awards and feature in leading decor publications and events every year. Whatever your taste or palate, you'll find it at Hudson Valley. For those who believe lighting makes the room, this showroom was a must visit.
What caught our eye
A more sophisticated, chic industrial brand. The line runs from industrial right up to cutting edge in its style.
Trendy, younger, and at a price point that's a little more affordable. Bold with a broad color palette. Less clutter and more creativity, Mitzi is attainable high design.
Indoor/Outdoor - fully functional in both the indoor and outdoor setting.
1945 Collection: The Risdon Chaise harkens back to an ageless design.
Henredon is one of the world's premier luxury home furnishings brands, noted for its trendsetting styles and exceptional quality. The vast array of wood collections, upholstered furniture, and custom options encourage the creation of interiors that reflect a bold and confident lifestyle. The companies roots are in the Southern Highlands, as Henredon was founded in Morganton, North Carolina in 1945 by four men determined to build furniture of custom quality.
1945 A collection offered four markets' ago remains one of the top-selling collections.
A special collections that caught our eye
Mark's designs for Henredon are nothing less than stunning in the simplicity of color married with fun and inviting shapes. Mark is known for creating All-American and timeless interiors that embody the indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
The last two prior market's Mark's design story was an emphasis on the color blue. For this market, it's all about green, garden, and spring. The products as gorgeous as they are in blue, show entirely different in the green combined with new finishes. Walking into the room containing Mark's collection evokes a visceral reaction best described as upbeat and happy.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Mark for a few minutes. His affect, welcoming and enthusiastic, mimics the feel of the rooms he designed for Henredon's 2018 April showroom.
Verellen came to fruition in 1999 by Belgium natives Tom and Sabine Verellen. Tom Verellen, who had a background in fabrics, textiles and wall coverings, realized in the late 1990s that the High Point area had an abundance of available talent for the manufacture of beautiful furniture because of saturation and as more and more jobs were being outsourced to China. Mainly out of a four-car garage, Tom started building using his Belgian concept and material with American construction. Bit by bit with no marketing, a little bit of social media and getting on the road, Tom began building relationships, and today you have Verellen.
"Belgian design and the Belgian concept is very different from anything else, and the reason is the philosophy is one that is a collection of experiences, not a material attache. When you look at the lines, colors, and materials, the low seating, it's all meant to ground you, even the low seating, to draw you closer to your surroundings. It's not intended to extract, instead to incorporate. It's hospitable not this glamorous, statement piece. Much like your grandmother's face, you see where she's cried, where she's smiled over the years and so the lines, textures, and materials we use are an imprint of that lifestyle year after year. You get to see where people sat. It's always a constant reminder of that life being lived. So it's a genuinely holistic philosophy when it comes to design. First and foremost that is what differentiates us, in that we are the only genuinely European, Belgian line made in America.
We're able to take this really pure, untouched aesthetic and match it with American perfection in construction. Our pieces are meant to outlast you, and therefore heirloom pieces, and you can only find that production quality in this region of the country, says Brandon Snyder, director of business development, sales, and marketing."
The Big Takeaway
Every aspect of Verellen is domestic except for some fabrics. They are proud of and celebrate the factory workers, a vast collection of experience coalesced, which is Verrellen in a nutshell. Hipster? Well, it's likely Verellen was hipster before it was hip.
What caught our eye
Specializing in leather, Hancock & Moore considers themselves one of the premier leather manufacturers in the furniture industry, they inventory over five hundred leathers sourced around the globe. The April market premiered the purple leather (Grape). Not just plain Jane solids, Hancock & Moore innovate incorporating metallic leather, embossed stamp to fit the companies personality. Long known for their Traditional styles, Hancock & Moore has included Transitional as seen in the launch two years ago of the Urban Logic line (appeals to the millennial generation & the empty nesters wanting to downsize for city life using smaller scales.)
Details: One of the strengths of Hancock & Moore is detail. Quilting and Stitching options for example - Includes myriad options for stitching (cases: single stitch, double stitch, square, boot stitch, and channel stitches) as well as stitching on the back of chairs. The addition of contrasting leathers really makes it POP!
Designer Alan Price
Before bringing his creative concepts to Hancock & Moore, Price designed for such names as Columbia Pictures, Hilton Properties, Ralph Lauren Home, Orvis and many more. Price brings a unique rugged appearance to the Hancock & Moore line, incorporating everyday inspirations into his work.
Sitting in one of Price's chairs or sofas you immediately understand that he cares about the body, the form, the shape, and how it applies to furniture. The shape of the human form is evident in his designs.