This article is a web-exclusive companion piece to a visual spread that appears on pages 22-23 in the May 2013 issue of Rug News andDesign magazine.
During High Point Market, I realized that words were sometimes meaningless. Rug News andDesign posts over 600 pictures per year in Walking the Market – a visual representation of what we see at markets. We have been posting, on Pinterest, room shots that should or do have floor covering in them: visual. Yet, when we write articles about vignettes and how to set the scene, it is usually more words than pictures.
Then I talked to Kelly O’Neal of Design Legacy (disclaimer: they advertise with us) in his showroom. Kelly said something that stuck with me over two days — a lot of our buyers are buying products to dress up their retail store space. For two days I walked around and looked closer at which showrooms were filled with buyers (not sure if they were buying at that moment) and I noticed a theme. The crowded showrooms had that je ne sais quoi – the show floor flow was good, the eye candy was great, the customer service impeccable. The space wasn’t static and flat. Instead, the space bounced with ideas, creativity and the ability to dream about it in a different space.
It hit me — I needed to show others visually how a showroom can represent many different lifestyles, dreams and endless possibilities. As it was the conversation with Kelly that made me come to this conclusion, it made sense for the visual pictures to also come from Design Legacy Showroom in High Point.
Following up the magazine’s visual article of Set the Scene, Create the Dream, Kelly has answered a few questions about how they have set up their showroom, what their buyers want and how it has worked for them.
- You mentioned buyers are purchasing showroom fixtures from Design Legacy – What type of buyer is doing this? Many of our buyers are gift or home furnishings stores. They are all loving our fixtures but for varied reasons. The home stores see them as interesting furnishings (for collectors for instance, as collectors cases) while gift stores are buying them for display largely.What type of fixtures are they using? Anything with good shelving at a good value. Sturdy items of course. We also have a lot of old school reproduction glass display cases………
- You mentioned that fixtures need to be sturdy, durable and functional. How did you come about designing interesting pieces that could be used in showrooms? Was that your original intention? Since we have a large line, the fixtures help us at shows. Buyers typically take our display ideas and repeat them in their stores so the fixtures are a natural way to easily emulate our look.
- How does your team create the vignettes for showrooms? We have a team who designs under the guidance of our lead designer Kelly O’Neal. Large studio walls are reserved for planning and moving about small paper copies of every piece in the line. Many designers are paperless today but there is something about the physical handling and moving about of the images that helps us to realize the areas we lack or have exceeded the need of a particular group.
- Have you found that certain setups in vignettes work better than others to promote product? No, we are all about change. While we have to hang on to successful items, we have a unique ability to quickly invent and make newer, fresher, better samples at any time. A group can be easily freshened-up when we don’t have to wait on the slow motions of importing to do so. Imported samples take four weeks minimum to receive and longer if corrections are required. We can turn a domestic sample in a few days.
- Any tips you can give on setting up vignettes for selling/promoting the sale of product for retailer stores? Tell stories. I owned a successful retail venue in Dallas for the last 25 years. We closed it recently to focus on the tremendous growth we have experienced at the wholesale level. The most important thing I can tell retailers is to buy inventory! Americans are all about immediate gratification and thinking they will buy from a photo is often not the case. Retail customers will talk themselves out of the purchase before it ever arrives if a custom order is required. The other important thing is to tell stories and change your floor entirely every season. Doing so helps you as much as it does anyone to review and rethink what is actually relevant to your customer.
- In deciding on your print advertising, what do you take into account for your room shots? What are you trying to promote? Image. We really don’t try to give away the farm and actually limit our print advertising for this reason. We like to give the buyer just enough information to cause a curious visit to our show space. It is extremely rare that we don’t sell everyone who enters our showroom as the line is so varied and fresh, so the ads really are just a tease that represents a beautiful statement grouping for that show or season.
Visually walking into Design Legacy at tradeshows is a treat. It is always fresh and interesting. Their facebook page also teases the buyer with wonderful vignettes. Many times the comment section is filled with can I order this? As Kelly said, and I agree, about retail space: 1. Tell stories, 2. Keep it fresh and Update.