19 January 2008

Dallas Trade Mart



Visiting the Dallas Trade Mart, with over 14 floors of To The Trade Only showrooms filled with everything imaginable for the home can be just a little intimidating and tiring to say the least. This week, Patricia Gray and I attempted to do just that. Suffice it to say, we didn't make it to too many showrooms - you could take a week and still not see it all. We quickly decided to forgo shopping in any showroom that looked gift-y and headed for the floors that specialized in home accessories and furnishings. Still, even though limiting our scope tremendously, we managed to see only a few of the biggest names in the business.

Just as in a real shopping mall, the window displays and outward appearance of the showroom was what caught our eye and drew us in. There were plenty of tired, dull looking showrooms filled with the last decade's faux Italianate and Old World goods. Those showrooms looked so dreary, passe, and empty - totally devoid of any energy at all. Who still buys that stuff, we wondered? Cyan, the first showroom that caught our attention, had a bright turquoise facade (naturally). You actually could find that showroom with your eyes closed, it was so bright. Inside, the merchandise was equally bright, lots of mirrored tables and shiny surfaces.

Mirror from Cyan Showroom that Patricia really liked.

Next we made our way to the In-Detail showroom. This is a super sized business that carries lots of labels. One label really caught my attention: Guildmaster - all cream painted furniture, very casual, lots of natural wicker, and an oversized chair that instantly reminded Patricia and me both of that gorgeous red chinoiserie chair by Ruthie Sommers. Was this the same frame of her chair? Couldn't it be taken into a paint shop and lacquered, we wondered? At less than $400, it's a steal compared to the $3,000+ price tag of the famous red chair.

Guildmaster furniture: great wicker items.

More Guildmaster cream painted furniture. Light furniture was hot at this year's market.


Oversized chair - frame is similar to Ruthie Sommers' lacquered red chair.

Ruthie Sommers' famous chair.

Shine Home was next. Lots of bright, contrasting colors - heavy on the Kelly Westler look. We both decided that it suddenly looked a tad dated and the end of the Westler reign seemed very apparent. There wasn't a lot of buzz around the merchandise either, another sure sign of buyer fatigue.

Shine Home, bloggers buzzed about this line all year.




Close up of Shine Home furniture.


Next, Patricia and I both noticed Lacefield Designs, a slipcovered upholstery and softgoods company, whose fabrics were a flagrant knock-off of Raoul Textiles, at a 1/10 of their cost. The color of their window display, chartreuse and brown, was bright again, but toned down in intensity. I particularly loved their gray-brown toned zebra patterned fabric. We both were taken with the line. Chartreuse was a hot color this year at Market and gold was the metallic shown everywhere.

Lacefield Designs window display. Note how similar the front fabric looks to Raoul Fabrics.

More Lacefield Designs. I loved the color of this fabric, muted grayish-brown.

The next showroom we stopped at was Two's Company/Tozai. Tozai is the higher end division of what has to be the most successful accessories company ever. My showroom rep (who happened to be there) told us that the Two's Company showroom space is completely redone with each market. It shows. It was a knockout. At Tozai, the blue and white porcelains caught my eye, of course. Patricia lusted after a set of gray toned botanicals. We both loved just about everything in the space.

Next door, Two's Company was all bright chartreuse and Tiffany's blue and white. Stunningly beautiful. Just wonderful. Each division of Two's Company was showcased separately and the decor matched the merchandise, of course. Their garden room merchandise was delightfully displayed, as was their Paris line - all pastel pinks and mauves and lilacs. But the icing on the cake was the Tiffany Blue Wedding Room. Done up in a Dorothy Draper vintage style with oversized blowzy flowers in blue and greens, it was impossible to not stop and ooh and ahh over merchandise that Two's Company has carried for years. The draw of their display was just that strong.

Two's Company Garden Room in chartreuse.

Two's Company - everything is artfully displayed in this showroom that is completely redesigned with each market, unlike most of the more boring showrooms.

The showstopper: Two's Company Tiffany blue wedding room - A nod to vintage designers like Dorothy Draper.

More Tiffany blue wedding room. All the items displayed in this room is mainstay Two's Company merchandise that they have carried for years and years.

Our final stop was the Global Views showroom, which I dragged Patricia to see. Global Views is a favorite of mine and I've blogged about this company before. They make the most wonderful accent tables and accessories and I think every one of my clients has a piece of theirs somewhere. Their prices are just unbeatable. The front of the showroom was all ready for Valentines Day - red and black and roses. High contrast to the max. As you walked through the showroom, the tone shifted to fit the merchandise. Patricia loved Global Views and was really disappointed they don't ship to Canada. We both decided we'll figure a way around that somehow. I pointed out to her merchandise I had bought for clients or myself and we met my rep who noticed from my huge name tag that I was from Houston. Everyone at the market was overly friendly, as Texans always are.

Hollywood Glam merchandise at Global Views.

The merchandise at Global Views was stacked to the ceiling. This center hanging console is new, supersized from their previous version pictured left and right.

By this time, it was after 4:00 pm and we were both exhausted and in need of coffee and a bite to eat. No big surprise - but I had to order room service that night, I was that tired. This was the first time I had been to the Dallas market in a long, long time. I'm not sure I'll go back again so soon though. With the internet, all companies have their inventory online and ordering in cyberspace is so much easier. It was fun, though, to see the merchandise in person for once, but I think it will hold me for a few more years.