I once heard Windsor Smith speak at the New York Design Center in the Century Showroom. In addition to being charming and very real, she said something that really resonated with me: “A designer is only as good as her resources.” Bingo! She was right on the money with that statement and I thought, “No kidding. But where does one find them all?”
One of the biggest challenges for new and experienced designers alike is sourcing. Finding resources that are reliable and have quality goods at fair prices is an ongoing quest for anyone in the design trade. Sometimes I feel that designers get a little lazy about this quest. I am always surprised when I look at a designer’s website and see the same cocktail table used in multiple projects. At first, I must admit, I judge. Yup. Totally. But then I sympathize because it takes time to find product and knowing where to look for it is often a challenge. Sometimes it’s just easier to use what you have. But I think designers want to be better than that. I know I do.
That dilemma is the main reason I started Oriana’s Design Finder. I needed goods and I couldn’t find them easily. At that time, like most designers, I wasn’t going to all the big markets. Who had the time? So I relied on the design buildings in NYC and whatever I could find in shelter magazines to guide me. Most designers don’t even have that much to go on (I am just lucky to be living close to NYC). What I really needed was for someone to curate the market for me and put the good vendors in one place. I needed a trade only “Google”; somewhere I could go to search for product when I had no idea where to look. I didn’t have time for all that legwork. Most designers don’t. When I looked I realized no one had done it. So I did it. But I digress…
When I first started out in design I was hard pressed to find good sources. I asked around and I shopped. A lot. Even before I had any clients, I knew that I had to do my homework and look for resources. Like I said before, I live near NYC and so I journeyed to the known design meccas there, the D and D building and the NYDC (commonly known as 200 Lex). My first few trips to those centers were less than fruitful, not because they weren’t chock full of great brands and product, but because I was totally overwhelmed by how much there was to see and decipher.
I would wander around those showrooms pulling tear sheets and fabric memos in an effort to synthesize all that information. It was exhausting. Plus, believe it or not, it was not enough. The brands were great there but not really diversified in terms of price point. They are largely operating at the high end in those buildings with established brands that are large and well known. I needed some medium priced brands that were smaller and lesser known to round out my repertoire. Where was I supposed to find them? Google? No. I tried. Waste of time.
I hit the shelter magazines like AD, Veranda, Traditional Home and the like. Magazines are a great place to look for product. The editorial pages help in finding new brands as do the ads, but that takes a lot of time. Even if you look in on line magazines, be prepared to spend some time to get through all the data.
Really, if a designer has the time, money and inclination, the trade shows are the best resource. High Point is the “Grand Poobah” of all trade shows. The first time you go, you will need several days. Talk about sensory overload. But it is worth it. You will be amazed at how much there is to see and find out there. All the other trade shows pale a bit in comparison. However, they are a great second choice and a lot of the good brands go to the regional shows too. I have spent a number of years going to NYNOW, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas and ICFF, among others, looking for resources for my design projects as well as Oriana’s Design Finder and I have found many good ones at these shows.
The bottom line here is this. Finding good resources is work. It is every bit as much a part of the job as the designing is. In the end, your design is only as good as your product. I highly recommend getting out there and going to the big markets. Or if you live near a major city, go to the big design centers. So many designers don’t do it and it is really a must. What ever you decide, rest assured, if you can’t get to any of these places, I’ve got you covered at www.OrianasDesignFinder.com! Please check it out and let me know what you think. I am always looking for good feedback!
Oriana‘s 5 Tips on How to Expand your Resources:
1. Book a trip to High Point Market or Las Vegas Market if High Point is too far for you. These are the two biggest shows and will impact your resource base the most dramatically. There is no real substitute for this. Just do it. You will be amazed at how much product is out there that you had no idea existed. Great bang for the buck.
2. Go to your regional shows (NYNOW, AmericasMart in Atlanta, Dallas Market, or ICFF). These are a good second choice if you can’t go to the big ones. You will still find great new resources and it is still a good time input vs. product found value.
3. Check out the design centers in your nearest big city. NY, LA, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and more have great full time buildings with multiple showrooms. These are a great source for the designer and the showroom staff is there to help you. Customer service in many of the showrooms is great and they will do a lot of the legwork for you within their product lines. For example, Kravet will search for fabrics and trims for you and send them to you if you call and tell them what color scheme and project you are looking for.
4. If you can’t go to any of these shows or buildings, get on line to their websites. You can find all the information on line and all of the brands have their websites listed. You can do a lot of browsing there without leaving your office.
5. Look on OrianasDesignFinder.com. I know, this is a shameless plug, but this is what we do. We go to all the shows and find all the good resources and put them on the site for designers to find. We have already done all the vetting regarding minimums and shipping etc – all you have to do is seek and find.