It’s like the Fashion Week of interior design, with some attendees preparing outfits and schedules months in advance. But not every designer can navigate High Point, North Carolina, like it’s their hometown. We asked some of High Point Market’s 2019 Style Spotters—Laura Thurman, Cynthia Ferguson, Benjamin Johnston, Shayla Copas, Eric Haydel, Kara Cox and Erinn Valencich—to share their top tips for making the most of a jam-packed five days.
Don’t Try to Do It All
“Don’t stress! Your first trip to Market will be a whirlwind no matter how much you prepare. Just accept you won’t see everything your first go-around. Not even after your sixth trip will you have experienced every single showroom. I suggest visiting your top 10 to 15 favorite vendors first. Remember to ask lots of questions about opening orders, pricing tiers, shipping fees and freight caps, and where the product is manufactured.
“No need to go back and forth from one building to the next aimlessly. I like to start first with the lectures and panels I want to sit in on. Then I make a list of the people and vendors I want to see. Last, I look at parties. Usually my first stop, if I don’t need to go to the hotel, is Universal Furniture. Its showroom is spacious and welcoming, a wonderful first destination to begin my Market and get invigorated.” —Laura Thurman, Thurman Design Studio, Nashville, Tennessee
Bring Supplies and Build in Buffer Time
“Plan for stops at vendors serving fabulous lunches, and always do your showroom visit before an event starts (the crowds are thinner). If this is your first time at Market, I highly recommend going to the IHFC building, the Commerce & Design building, 200 Steele, 200 North Hamilton, and Market Square. If you cover these buildings and your ‘wheels’ fall off, you will have covered a great deal of territory! Fair warning: Without a plan, you will wear your feet out before you see what interests you.
“After years of attending Market, I have learned to build in ‘buffers’ in my schedule to account for my ‘shiny object syndrome’ and ‘chatterbox-itis.’ Always add a few panels and learning experiences in each day so you don’t find yourself blurry-eyed looking at product—preferably later in your visits when you are [so tired that you are] beginning to forget your own name! I always leave my final day unscheduled, which allows me to circle back to showrooms I want to see again. Maximizing my time at Market means early mornings, long days and ninja organization. Snacks, water and a phone battery backup are a must. Most importantly, have fun! No one will ask you how many showrooms you hit, so remember to look up and talk to people. A lot of your design idols and Instagram obsessions are at Market—take advantage of all the access you have!” —Cynthia Ferguson, Cynthia Ferguson Designs, Toronto
Take Photos Instead of Swag
“My team and I utilize the High Point Market app and the website to ensure that we hit all of our favorite showrooms. We also keep a spreadsheet of our must-see stops and vendors we would like to meet, and then make notes about the products we are most excited to specify. I don’t get loaded down with catalogs and swag—they will only slow me down. My team and I get in, take photos, exchange business cards (bring lots of these), and move on to the next! I would encourage first-timers to check out some of the smaller vendors at Market Square. There are lots of gems to be discovered! Cocktail parties and other special events are a great way to structure your time—before and after those happenings, you can explore the adjacent venues and showrooms. Did I mention the necessity of wearing comfortable shoes?” —Benjamin Johnston, Benjamin Johnston Design, Houston
Start Day One Rested
“Soak in every minute. Try not to schedule too many appointments back-to-back. Leave enough room in the schedule to explore new manufacturers and to enjoy the social scene. High Point is a ‘design reunion’ twice a year that unites the industry as they explore new products, touch base with existing manufacturers, attend educational seminars and network at industry soirées.
“My first stop is always the hotel. We tend to come in late at night, hit the hotel, get a good night’s sleep and then tackle Market the next morning. We keep a detailed list on a project management app called Trello, scheduling appointments and maintaining our ‘wish list.’ Making appointments is paramount, as is adding all of our new contacts. We usually start with the main building and work out to the stand-alone showrooms.” —Shayla Copas, Shayla Copas Interiors, Little Rock, Arkansas
Seek Out New Brands and Friendships
“Don’t over-commit yourself to too much too quick! Appointments are great, but Market is also a great time to find new brands and make some lasting friendships—give yourself the time and flexibility to do that. I make the most of High Point by planning 50 percent of my time with stops and meetings, and leaving 50 percent for curiosity and wondering. I have colleagues that do one or the other, but a blend is really the best way to get the most of the time there! I try to plan for free time in the morning to wander and have my coffee, or basically recover from the night before. Start with programs and meetings in the early afternoon and free time before parties and bubbles after 5! Each year, these creative spaces and even returning venders energize me for the rest of my time at Market.
“Oh, and review the books and programs that High Point puts out. Sounds crazy, but I actually go through the hard copies of magazines, programs and booklets that are all over Market. If nothing else, they help you plan.” —Eric Haydel, Eric Haydel Design, Boston
Hydrate During the Day, Hit the Parties at Night
“Drink every bottle of water offered to you. Market is an exhausting week, but you’re only here for a few days, so don’t get mired in the details in a showroom. Look for the details you need to see in person, like frame depths and cushioning or finishes, and take pictures of an item as well as the manufacturer’s tag so you have the information you need to reference later. You can follow up with reps regarding general information once you’re back in the office!
“Create a plan ahead of time, study the map, and create a list of stops based on each building or area—you’ll save a lot of steps if you’re not backtracking. I plan each day around a particular location and see all the vendors I need to see in that area. Plan on finishing in showrooms by 4 p.m. if you want to hit the nightly party circuit—it’s a great way to network with other designers and industry insiders.” —Kara Cox, Kara Cox Interiors, Greensboro, North Carolina
Say No to Heels, and Yes to a Massage
“If you wear heels to a trade show, frankly, I think you look silly. Feeling good is key to seeing as much as you’d like. And book a massage in the evening to re-energize for the next day.
“I find that InterHall (on the ground floor of IHFC) has the most unique and higher-end brands and artisans. For first-timers, Fine Art Lamps is always great, Creative Touch rugs, Global Views, Suites at Market Square and IHFC are my faves. But don’t take tours of each showroom—run through each one and if you see something you like, take a picture with the card of the showroom in the image. Then you can remember where you have been after you go back to your office.” —Erinn Valencich, Erinn V. Design Group, Los Angeles