Sunday, August 20, 2006

Who Do You Stalk?

Last weekend Andrew and I attended (walked) a slew of tradeshows in NYC that included the Int'l Gift Fair, Directions, and the Textile Show. We've been walking various shows now for about 3 years. Other shows might include Atlanta Giftware Show (Jan), National Stationery Show (May) and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) that runs concurrently with NSS & Surtex -a show at which we exhibit.

The ICFF, in our minds, is just way too cool. If you want inspiration on several levels, be prepared for a surreal onslaught of some of the most talented artisans in the world. This creative collective bunch are an awesome array of industrial designers creating functional casegoods called furniture. One might also see softgoods for the home and accents.

Walking these various shows says much about the consumer. Designer egos are on the chopping block for shoppers and showroom buyers have to seek out the edgy -but not too edgy- for their clients and hope that the trickle down effect actually works. I've been in all 3 positions and I understand the sweat and fear that goes into each. In the end I ask myself -is anyone going to die because of my decision making? Probably not, so don't sweat it, just enjoy and buy what you like.

Meanwhile, I seek out the newbies of the floor. You know them because they've got the smallest booth but have packed a punch in their introductory designs they offer. I ask them how the show is going for them and they all usually reply in the same manner, "Oh, pretty well. Tired but excited to be here."

Wait a few days and return to them and ask the same question and you'll get a variety of responses. Some great, mediocre, and those who don't want to show their grave disappointment but it's clearly written all over their face - we know, we've been there (Atlanta 2005).

We are genuine when we wish them luck (because we like to see good and talented people succeed) and they can feel it -giving them a little boost in their step because we've just revealed our affinity toward their product and appreciate the lonely step in cold waters.

The following year we reintroduce ourselves and congratulate them on returning the second time. It's evident that they either had a decent turnout the last 12 months or have enough passion in their product to realize that they've got a solid winner but just need a few more years to get it out the gate and down the lane. Either way, we wish them luck again and watch their editorial submissions get print time in the popular industry mags and mention, "Hey, I remember your introduction -it was in Dwell!" Just before I leave their space, I'll confess that they're on my radar and they're one of the artists I stalk, "...but not in a bad way," I conclude. I just like to root for the little guy.

It's been my experience that artisans love to be told that they've got a following who is actually watching their career, it's gratifying. I know, I'm there.

Cross-posted from SAVANTBlog

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