Getting ready for ‘show’ time

Susan Mulholland

Monday, May 07, 2018

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Getting ready for ‘show’ time

Design is all about the next big thing. We are all obsessed with the idea that there is something new or better out there, and we just have to find it.

This is where interior decorators’ and designers’ true passion resides. If you don’t believe me just go to any of the design conferences listed in the professional interior design trade magazines.

Some people have said that design showrooms and big conferences like High Point Market and NeoCon are not as popular as they once were because now everything can be found on the internet. This was particularly true during the Great Recession, when everyone, including manufacturers, were scaling back their lines and new introductions.

This was a tough time not only for our industry but for the conference show circuit. Attendance was down, and manufacturers were pulling out of permanent showroom spaces in high rent design centers to save money.

And, well, designers were just not going. We all have our personal reasons why, but it seemed like the heyday of design shows, and conferences were at an end. Not true.

I have been practicing professionally for two-and-a-half decades, and I can tell you that no matter how many emails you get from manufacturers telling you about their latest product introductions, nothing beats going to the shows and seeing them in person. Even though attendance was down, and introductions were limited, there were still some designers who needed that yearly fix of attending a design show, and because of them, this phenomena that happens every year is still with us.

The market experience is shopping on steroids. And like every shop-aholic knows, you need to be prepared for 3-5 days of insanity.

This includes everything from loud noise to too many parties and not enough sleep. Comfortable, but stylish shoes are a must, and so is a good bag to keep all the goodies that you get while you are “shopping.”

For newbies, going with a seasoned veteran is the best way to enjoy this adventure. It is the type of adventure that comes from learning and experience. Every designer who has been even to only one of these events can tell you that it’s unlike anything else we do in our daily professional lives.

I know that not every designer or decorator gets excited about attending these shows and markets. Reasons range from that you are forced to walk what seems to be endless miles of convention center space without having a break to not being able to find a chair that you can sit in for more than 10 seconds.

To some, they even think that it all looks the same and become overwhelmed by it all. If that is the case, there is another component to these events that even a non-shopper can appreciate. It’s education.

Many of these design shows offer opportunities to get continuing education credits. There are presentations given on every topic related to the design field. Design is about knowledge. If you haven’t given a thought to attending a design show, maybe this is the reason you do.

Learning what good design is never ends. Hearing from your peers and other design professionals can be just as inspiring as seeing a new chair or line of textiles.

Design is in of itself an experience. We tell our clients that by hiring us, you are making an investment in your personal or work space.

With the millions of offerings of furniture, flooring options, textiles, wall coverings, lighting and accessories available, it takes someone who is trained to see the right “stuff” for the right client. What works for one client may not work for another, and this is why going to these shows are so important.

Good design combines the best of what is old with what is new, and takes seeing the possibilities of what can be. Our vision is our gift to our clients. We know what will work and what won’t.

This is also why manufacturers are eager for us to see their new offerings for interiors every year. They spend millions of dollars in research and development to come up with new products for our industry.

They know that if we can see the design potential, it will make them money. They also know that if enough of us don’t see the design potential, it will be gone before it hits the streets. Our collective design brain knows a good thing when we see it!

So, are you ready? If you haven’t made plans for attending at least one design conference this year, you should definitely make plans for next year.

Yes, they can be expensive and yes, they take you away from your office and clients, but the benefits are so worth it! You not only have the inside scoop on what the manufacturers are developing for the future, you have an opportunity to meet new people, including new manufacturers, have some fun with other designers and get inspired for your next project.

Interior design is about how people interact with their space and possessions. Offering your clients something new and fresh is an advantage that you get from attending a design show, whether it is for a home, an office, hotel or hospital.

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