Design Bloggers Tour: High Point Market, Day 2


Hello friends, and welcome to my recap of Day 2 of the Design Bloggers Tour of the recent High Point Market in North Carolina. As you may know, I was lucky enough to be selected to be among 10 North American design bloggers on the tour, which is a co-production of Esteem Media and the High Point Market show administration. This is a sponsored post. I am writing about the exhibitors that paid for the privilege of being included on the tour. The content and thoughts are my own, as are the photos. In case you missed it, you can read my Day 1 recap here

If you don't know the designer responsible for the opening image then come here and I'm going to smack you. What kind of design hound are you? Of course you know it's 100% Rachel Ashwell. The Princess of Shabby Chic herself is reinvigorating her brand — this time relying more on her own name so all those half-asssed wannabes that stole and copied her first brand will be less likely to do it again (Ok, that's not really why — I just made that up, but I hope it's true). I was, and am, a fan, which is funny because it's actually not really my style. It's just that I really respect her for having created and ENTIRE DESIGN AESTHETIC. Who else has done that? As a vintage enthusiast I can't help but feel an affinity for her warm embrace of patina. Also, my eye is very pleased by pretty. Bravo Rachel and welcome back (even thought you didn't really go away).

As you may know, Rachel is an Englishwoman by way of California, so we started the day fittingly with a tea, scone and fruit feast. My only regret — no clotted cream...sigh. This beautiful tea presentation was by Greensboro, NC tea shop Vida Pour Tea. Beautifully done and absolutely deeelish!!!

As we sipped tea we wandered around marvelling at the pretty. The casegoods have all the design cred of antiques (East Lake, Victoriana, bit of French, Depression era) and the Shabby Chic trademark worn finishes, but at more accessible prices than had been the case in the original incarnation of the brand. Rachel spoke with us in earnest about this as an integral aspect of her brand relaunch — that more people could afford it. Please enjoy a tour.

When I asked Rachel what was new with Shabby Chic today she pointed to her new-found appreciation of unpainted wood finishes. Previously Rachel never met a wooden piece of furniture that would not be improved with a lick of paint. The new line offers many pieces in several natural wood tones. The console/sofa table above is in a finish called Bleached Beauty — and that's exactly how I'd describe it.

Showing you this again because TREND ALERT: the giant squishy sectional sofa is a Thing.

TREND ALERT: A square seat cushion that not only does not have any welting/piping, but is also made using this dead-simple corner stitch technique instead of regular box construction. My guess is this may save the manufacturing process a few cents but it also results in a wonderfully casual mood. Love.

IDEA TO STEAL: Of course the flowers were ravishing. I loved these somewhat whackadoodle table centrepieces — delphinium. roses, cherry blossoms and lisiathus. Dreamy!

Stop 2: Joybird

At Joybird furniture I immediately fell for this beautiful baby. The massive Chelsea sofa was done up in a deep dark green velvet and features channel back upholstery, tuxedo arms and a walnut-stained base with gold capped feet. What a stunner! Joybird are disruptors in the furnishings biz in that they are manufacturers and direct-to-customer sellers. The guiding Joybird principals are customization and the best quality for the best price. All pieces are made to order in Mexico and ship within the US superquick. At this time the company doesn't ship directly to Canada, but you and I both know there are ways around that! In Vancouver the line is carried by Flüff, a showroom specializing in sales and rentals of furniture serving the home staging market.

The design look is heavily influenced by midmod silhouettes and makes for a particularly strong collection of chair designs. My favrouites are the Collins, Soto and Bradshaw.

The biggest news at Joybird is its partnership with Crypton performance fabrics to provide a wide selection of virtually indestructible fabrics for upholstery.  The fabrics feel soft and luxurious to the hand (unlike many stain-resistant predecessors and competitors) but just click that image above to watch the dramatic video about how this stuff survives not only orange juice but red juice and coffee and more. It's truly remarkable. Kind of a no-brainer if you are ordering a sofa. Crypton was actually so ubiquitous at High Point that I'm calling it its own trend. TREND ALERT: Crypton performance fabrics.

Stop 3: Universal Furniture

The Universal Furniture showroom must be one of the largest at High Point. It was truly gargantuan. I feel like our merry little band of bloggers saw just a tiny fraction of what was there. But it was certainly enough to spot some ideas to steal. The styling throughout the space was wonderful. Check out the wall colour and art situation above — YUM! Many showrooms just do up abstract art pieces to make big bold statements in a shoestring budget, since of course they need many many such pieces to create inviting room scenes over thousands of square feet. Steal that idea people! I mean, of course you should try to get yourself original art by a true art talent, but in the meantime just get busy with a paintbrush and GO BIG when you select a canvas. Trust. I'm no Rothko but I can paint loose, uneven stripes in interesting colours as well as the next person — and so can you. Go for it! 

I hope you are inspired to bring a rich jewel tone onto a wall or four.

Above (from left): Nora Murphy of  Nora Murphy Country House , Alexander Julian, Adam Japko of  Esteem Media , Courtney Allison of  French Country Cottage . 

Above (from left): Nora Murphy of Nora Murphy Country House, Alexander Julian, Adam Japko of Esteem Media, Courtney Allison of French Country Cottage

Without a doubt a highlight at Universal was meeting and listening to fashion designer Alexander Julian talk about his latest furniture collection. He was one of the first fashion personalities to cross over to the decor market and did so in 1994.

Button design on the top of a side table by Alexander Julian.

Button design on the top of a side table by Alexander Julian.

I was fascinated to learn of his process for translating his fashion aestheic, which had been primarily created for men, into something both men and women would enjoy equally at home. You see these motifs — argyle (natch), cableknit, herringbone, tortoisehell, buttons — appear repeatedly in his furniture line. 

Did you know that he was the first American designer to create his own textiles and that his textile design is in the Smithsonian? Fun facts.

Regretably, the Alexander Julian galleries were packed with people and we must have been behind schedule so we were hurried along a bit. As a result I wasn't able to get as many photos as I had hoped. The displays were full of clever haberdashery styling tricks and artifacts that were just as interesting as the furniture pieces themselves. Hats off to the stylist! Speaking of hats, love the vintage hat blocks on top of this delightful high boy cabinet. They are just wonderful and beautifully mounted and displayed. IDEA TO STEAL: have an object you love mounted on a metal or marble weighted base with a steel support to elevate the object and you have instant art!

Elsewhere at Universal...I'm not sure this is an idea to steal because I dunno about you but I've got stuff in my drawers  — no room for floral displays! But how fun is this? 

Just outside the Universal cafeteria this baby was mounted on the wall and I think it's quite fantastic. How great would this be in a family games room or lake house? I found it here at Restoration Hardware.  I assume Universal must be their supplier for it. Coolio.

Stop 4: Artefama Furniture

One of the best aspects of attending High Point is discovering comapanies from around the world that you've never heard of before. That was the case for me with Artefama, a manufacturer with operations in Miami, Fla as well as Sao Bento do Sul, Brazil. Over the years Brazil has been a hot bed of iconic modern furniture design. If you're unfamiliar, check out this helpful primer in the Wall Street Journal. The vibe at Artefama is more populist than cutting edge, but the integrity of design and respect for the amazing woods used in manufacture is obvious. In fact, sustainable practices are at the core of the Artefama company values. Bravo Artefama! Here are some of The Design Edit's picks from the collection.

Stop 5: The MT Company

The MT Company, also known as Miles Talbot, is another of the very large showrooms with a little something for every taste at mid price points. Miles Talbot is home to collections by Joe Ruggiero and Dana Gibson and more. The company specializes in upholstered goods. MT has also partnered with Crypton to offer clients the super durable spill-proof fabric for upholstery. They make a killer spool chair, which is one of my all-time fave styles. The Bankwood is shown in the image above. So good, right? In fact, I quite like that whole room set above. Here are some more chairs I loved at MT.

The other category that The MT Company has a lock on (and that's hard to find elsewhere) is upholstered tables. That's right, tables.

I love the look of fully upholstered Parsons side tables, coffee tables and consoles. MT has you covered there (haha , see what I did there?). Some models have nailhead trim but I prefer them straight up - no embellishement and I'd go with an earthy linen/jute weave. 

And thus concludes the tour folks. Here's our official tour wrap photo, which I stole from Nora Murphy Country House. It was taken on Nora's camera, but she's there in the photo (white trousers, blue jacket, centre right). I have no people photos because the people photo and selfie part of blogging is the part I'm not super into. You may be able to read my enthusiasm for being photographed on my face on the far right there — ha!  Alas, great group of people. Big thanks to Luba, Adam and Beverly from Esteem, the whole team at High Point and of course, all the sponsors. 

But that's not all. I have even more to show you of my visit to High Point so do check back.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to apply to be part of the next Design Bloggers Tour of High Point, Oct. 14-18, now is the time to apply before the July 10, 2017 deadline.  Find the application here.

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