By Marlene Holmquist
Interior designers are familiar with the term “going to market,” but few consumers have knowledge of what they are, or where they are. High Point Market located in High Point, North Carolina, hosts the world’s oldest and largest home furnishings “market” with more than 11.5 million square feet of showroom space in more than 180 buildings occupied by more than 2,000 exhibitors.
Twice a year, approximately 75,000 attendees (trade professionals including exhibitors, buyers, designers, celebrities, and the media) discover the latest trends in furniture, lighting, accessories, art and other products for the home. As far as I have heard, no one has ever been able to experience the entirety of this enormous event in just one visit!
Most interior designers, including myself, haven’t had the need to attend the 5-day event at “The Holy Grail of Markets” in High Point. Thankfully, other scaled-down design markets (from 2-5 days) are offered in locations including Miami, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas—and I have attended most of them several times throughout the years.
Complementing events including The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, Coverings, Surfaces, and Light Fair educate us on the latest in large appliances, decorative plumbing, textiles, floor coverings, tile and stone, and decorative and technical lighting systems.
Although the internet can assist us in discovering and learning about any product, there’s nothing quite like seeing them in person to get some inspiration. Preparing for any of these market events takes thorough planning, enormous energy, and a few pairs of comfortable tennis shoes.
A few weeks ago, I invited my longtime clients Ty and Anne to join me at The World Market in Las Vegas, and to write down their thoughts about the trip when they got home. Some markets, like this one, allow designers to escort two guests at a time, but only the designer is allowed to make the purchases. I came prepared with a very detailed list of which showrooms to visit.
I was curious to get feedback from them about the expectations versus the realities of their experience.
“Working with our designer, Marlene, has been invaluable,” they said. “She listens openly to our ideas, and clearly explains why something will or won’t work, preventing us from making mistakes and wasting money on things that we might otherwise have purchased or tried.”
“Her familiarity with varied products and tradespeople has broadened the horizon of what is possible. Attending the Las Vegas Market was very helpful, saving us time and money instead of making separate trips to multiple stores in many different locations to view choices,” they continued. “Marlene passes on her wholesale cost to us, charging us only for her time. Her preparation and the transparency of purchasing showed us instant value.”
“The Market experience was what she had described to us, although the sheer number of showrooms and products was still somewhat overwhelming, but in a good way,” they further said. “She narrowed down which vendors carried the type of things we were searching for, and we didn’t have to sift through it all ourselves. All in all, an interesting and fruitful trip!”
If you would like to have a local “design market” experience, I suggest visiting The Laguna Design Center in nearby Laguna Niguel. The public is welcome every Monday through Friday from 9-5, but most showrooms will only sell to the trade.
You can easily visit all showrooms in this outdoor mall in a single day and will find everything from furniture, art and fabrics to decorative plumbing and appliances. They even have a nice café with outdoor seating to take a break between showrooms.
Marlene Holmquist, ASID, owns Luxury Ranch Interior Design, a full-service interior design company specializing in remodels for residences and small businesses. An avid equestrian known as “The Cowgirl Designer,” she is a member of the San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition and Las Vaqueras Women’s Riding Club. luxury-ranch.com or thecowgirldesigner.com.