High Point Market is the largest home furnishings market in the world, but that’s not the reason you want to go. In fact, what I’m telling you here applies to every design market whether it’s High Point Market, Dallas Market, Vegas Market, the annual Architectural Digest Show in NYC, the ICFF Show or the European shows including Maison Object in Paris (and now an outpost in Miami.)
There are 7 savvy reasons you want to attend at least one market a year. I attend multiple because my mission is to meet as many interior designers in person as I can and I get the privilege of speaking at many markets to facilitate that. (My goal is to speak at all of them domestically and then a handful internationally!!)
1. New Product Introductions
This is kind of obvious and so very important. One of the essentials to keeping you on the leading edge of design is to experience product launches and introductions in person. You get that behind-the-curtain look at the designer of any given piece or element, their inspiration, their process, and how they partnered with the manufacturer. It’s not just fascinating but also gives you a wonderful story to share with clients who absolutely must have that piece or element.
High Point Market has an amazing line up of parties for these launches and so do other markets. The stories you collect become priceless fodder for blog posts, Instagram captions, Facebook feeds, client newsletters and most vitally the key to selling pieces by educating your client into how they were created and why they’re the perfect fit for them.
2. Meet the Icons of Design
You’ll be surprised at how profoundly accessible the stars of design are at High Point Market and the many other markets for design. You can not just meet them at book signings and big affairs but find them available for a conversation in showrooms, at drinks at Proximity (the best place to hang out), and while traveling by air.
And realizing that the stars are actually real people who’ve worked hard to get where they are can inspire you to new heights and motivate you to push through those stuck and stalled places we all get to.
3. Connect with New and Existing Suppliers
Nothing beats face to face communication in the design business. So, you want to plan your market trip so that you meet as many of the people you know only by phone or email as possible. Getting face to face after months or years of nothing but online communication (and I include phone in that) will take your relationship up a notch or two.
And if you haven’t learned the lesson yet, your suppliers are a key reason for your success. You are only as good as the product you source and the team you play with. They are an integral part of your team even though unpaid, never doubt that. High Point Market makes that easy because every furniture manufacturer, lighting brand, accessory source and more have a presence there. Other markets have their specialties.
4. Connect with Your Colleagues
There is no better time to meet colleagues you’ve known only online than at market. Every market hosts loads of educational events, CEU courses, parties and product launches. The key is to make plans in advance because if you leave these connections to chance, you are likely to miss one another. Our industry markets are huge and not always easy to navigate. Create that list of friends you want to meet up with, compare schedules, and make it happen.
5. Meet the Editors of Regional and National Shelter & Trade Publications
Do you have a desire to get published? Whether you want exposure to potential clients, or you have a licensed line of goods and want to increase your visibility with the trade, editors from all major publications and many regional magazines attend markets. They may present, so you know exactly where to find and meet them, or you may want to follow their IG feed so you can see where they are and make that connection. This isn’t the time you’ll pitch, it’s simply a way to put a face to their name and start relationship building.
6. Recharge Your Creativity
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut even with the creative juice of Instagram and Pinterest constantly flowing. Nothing replaces the impact of experiencing fresh ideas, product, color combinations, layouts, materials and more all in person. As designers we are kinesthetic, that means we learn by touching things. I am forever going up to walls in restaurants and hotels and touching the wall covering or paint to see how it was created. (It gets trickier in museums as they frown on touching the art!)
At High Point Market, I’ll occasionally get short of breath (in a good way) because of all the exciting new ways I see things combined, layered, featured and showcased. And that experience marinates in your expertise and your style and will show up in fresh looks for your clients.
7. Going to Market Increases Your Value as a Design Professional
It’s a creative adventure that fuels your heart, soul and mind. From the product you see, the people you meet, the new vendors you take on board, to the licensing opportunities you explore, it’s invaluable for your business development. You also come away inherently more valuable because of the greater knowledge you have about not just product and people, but the business of design and what we know as the home industry.
As a designer you are responsible for amazing changes in your client’s life by the environments you design. Attending markets regularly, at least once a year, you ensure that your expertise stays leading edge and you are of maximum value.
The people you meet, product you see, and experiences you have all will add value to your business. Go to market!