Shopping for our customers at furniture shows is hard work! There is so much beautiful design out there, and we want to get it right for you. We also know that good design isn’t everything; we look for quality of production, solid customer service, good relationships with suppliers, options, and availability. Oh, and there’s that super important ingredient: value. Value does not mean ‘cheap’, it means making choices for LaDiff where the quality and the price are the right fit. It also means finding products in a range of prices for anyone who walks in the door. Add to that walking miles and miles and miles from dawn until way past dusk, and there you have it: hard work! But, oh how we love it!
This year, the spring shows in Milan and High Point overlapped (again), so our buyers had to do some clever traveling to conquer both markets. The annual Salone del Mobile was founded in 1961 as a vehicle for promoting Italian furniture and rose to become the most keenly awaited event in the world of furniture design. Salone differs from the High Point market in that ALL of the booths – or stands as they call them – are temporary. Millions of dollars are spent to design, dress, and outfit their 6-day showrooms, in order to stand out to the over 300,000 international visitors who attend. The fairgrounds buzz with energy: press swarm to see what Moroso, Cattelan, B&B Italia, and Poltrono Frau are presenting, design students crowd the halls with sketchpads looking for inspiration, and retailers watch for new trends in color, finishes, and styles, while they wait in booths for a representative who speaks their language. For four days, the fair is open to the ‘trade’ only (retailers & designers). The last two days are ‘Public Days’, and are crazy crowded because they are open to anyone who wants to attend and see these incredible introductions in person. The caliber of design, the drama of the booths, and the energy of the attendees make this fair our very favorite for fabulous ideas.
The High Point Furniture Market is considered the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world because of the number of square feet (more like acreage!) that the showrooms cover: over 10 million square feet! While physically larger, High Point’s attendance is approximately 70,000 from around the world. Part of the lower number is because High Point struts its stuff twice a year instead of annually, so some buyers come only once. This North Carolina town has hosted a form of a furniture market since the first formal ‘Southern Furniture Market’ took place in 1909. The location was chosen because of its proximity to North Carolina’s major furniture manufacturers… all very traditional. We have to tell you, when LaDiff first attended a High Point market in 1982, it was rough for a contemporary store! There were very few vendors: stalwarts like Thayer Coggin, and newcomer “lifestyle” suppliers like Star furniture, Sherwood flip sofas, and Dansk lighting. So that’s who we shopped. Now, fast forward to 2015, and there are entire buildings dedicated to contemporary and modern style. More and more international suppliers present their wares in High Point: from Canada, Brazil, Thailand, Denmark, Italy, China, India, Mexico, etc. etc. etc. For this reason – and the fact that we get to spend time catching up with friends – High Point remains our main furniture shopping destination.
So… now that you know WHERE we go and WHY we go, I’ll bet you’d like to know what we saw and loved this time around. Here we go…
Vibes of Industrial Chic and Organic Modern are still in style with forged iron table legs updated in shades of gold, exposed rebar repurposed into elegant dining tables, slipcovered sofas that are at once chic and comfortable. The influence of Mad Men’s Mid Century look is still strong, with minimal style, tufted upholstery, and exposed wood. Something tells us that even though Mr. Draper will be leaving our screens this year, the mid-century style he helped to resurrect will be around a while longer.
Beds are softer: 6 of our favorite suppliers showed beautiful upholstered headboard styles. Designs ranged from sleek, ultra-modern platform beds to embracing shelter styles, all waiting to offer a cozy night’s sleep.
Touches of luxury tell us that everyone wants to put that ‘great recession’ way behind us. (We agree!) Some are real like stunning hand-knotted rugs with bamboo silk fibers and wool (a personal weakness). Others are faux, like some fabulous faux lampskin rugs & pillows that – except for the price – you would swear are the real thing.
For color, we think we saw more than fifty shades of grey, and every one of them is a hot (or rather cool) neutral. For accents, blue is still tops, but those rich aquas are turning into deeper cobalts. That cobalt – or primary – blue has its friends red and yellow sneaking back into the mix, too. (Watch out… here come the colors of the 80’s!)
Other ideas we continue to see and like include:
- The importance of mixing styles: if you love it, it works. Antiques with modern, hard with soft, earthy with refined. These juxtapositions of style add character to a space.
- We love top-grain, high quality leather. Like you, we went through the ‘bonded leather’ phase, but it’s time to go back to the rich, durable, attraction of real, all top-grain leather. Mmmmm…
- Electric motion furniture: at first we weren’t so sure. So much of it felt a bit too oversized for LaDiff. Designs are cleaner, with Scandinavian and Italian influences, and those little silver buttons that make them move are oh-so-sexy.
- Texture is back. Whether its tweedy or chenille fabrics or live-edged wood tables, we just love texture. It provides depth and makes a space more interesting.
See our full gallery from High Point & Milan below and let us know which of these new ideas are your favorite. Be sure to come by LaDiff in person to see our new purchases, arriving this spring, summer, & fall.