When they were “Style Spotted” the very first time they showed at the High Point Market in the spring of 2016, Bridgette Hamilton and Cynthia Gross, co-founders of Annapolis, MD-based 1429 mfg didn’t really understand the significance.
They soon learned that the High Point Market Style Spotters are home fashion leaders who track the latest trends and showcase their top finds each market. Another exhibitor, positioned nearby, noticed the buzz surrounding the pair’s small tradeshow space and approached, stunned to learn they were first-time exhibitors. “He said, ‘Do you know there are some people who do this show and don’t make any sales at all?’ We said, ‘Really?’” Hamilton remembers with a laugh. “We were like deer in the headlights; we had no idea.”
Even so, the pair quickly understood that they had brought something entirely unique to the century-old furniture market: custom wood furniture “infused” with art.
Richmond, VA-based interior designer Patricia Holley, the creative force behind Design Therapy LLC, took note of the products on display and inquired about the seven-step process the company employs to create furniture as livable art. “She said, ‘I’m working on a restaurant project and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Do you think you could do this on commercial-grade tabletops?’”
Since then, Holley has spec’d 1429’s tabletops into a number of her one-of-a-kind restaurant designs in the Richmond area. Her first project was called Red Salt. “I really liked their design sensibility,” she says. “They were makers, but artists as well. My client wanted to do something that felt more like Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York,” she relates. “And I wanted to create something one-of-a-kind, something that people would walk into and say, ‘Wow! This doesn’t feel like I’m in Richmond!’“
With a background in residential design, Holley found she enjoyed the creativity commercial design, and specifically restaurant projects, afforded. “There are a lot more moving parts and pieces in commercial design,” Holley relates, “but I found it a lot more free and that I could do exciting things with color that I could never do in someone’s home. At the same time, the restaurant scene here was becoming sort of generic. Nobody was really doing anything that exciting or new.”
1429 mfg has grown alongside Holley’s design firm, branching ever further into commercial design, not only in restaurants, but also boutique hotels. The company has also partnered with interior designer and star of Bravo’s “Buying It Blind,” Michel Smith Boyd, who at BDNY this month, will transform the 100-square-foot 1429 space into a concept apartment featuring the company’s art-infused furniture. “I have such great respect for them and what they’ve created; infusing art on wood has not been done before so what they are doing is really exciting and my role is to help them show it off, to add a dose of sexy and show just how chic, metropolitan and boutique this specialized look can be.”