I recently had the good fortune of coming into a large, undisclosable sum of money, with which I decided to re-furnish my apartment. Wishing to peruse the tasty ingredients that I would cook up into my extraordinary abode, no destination suited me more than the Jacob Javits convention center, host to the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. Underneath the bright lights and above the union layed carpet stretched 200 of the world's finest manufacturers and distributors of home related products. From KitchenAid to Baccarat, the advertising pages of Conde Nast's most decorated magazine came to life in this luxury trade show. However, I had much more trouble than anticipated in making purchases; even though this was the home show, it was not very welcoming.
My first stop was the Fine Arts Dealers Association, a display of painting and sculpture sourced from New York's finest galleries. Strolling through the exhibit, surrounded by beautiful 19th century paintings, I could not help but think of the National Stationary show I had attended at the Javitz center last spring. As hard as the dealers tried, they could not conceal the trade show ambience (escalators, exposed piping, Sbarro's) that permeated the industrial building. Attempting to ignore this fact with the rest of the crowd, I viewed the body of work, and seeing a fine Victorian oil of a terrier I truly adored, inquired as to its price. "$35,000," the dealer said bluntly. "I'll take it!" I said, and pulled out my checkbook then and there. But the dealer was suddenly nowhere to be seen. He had left the area while I was talking to him. As I left the booth in disgust I saw him eating a hot dog at the refreshment stand, oblivious to the fact that he had lost a sale. I decided that I was thirsty and headed for the bar.
Stark Carpets decided to display their booth most unusually. Instead of laying out only a few samples, they arranged giant tubes of carpet around their space, enabling them to show off thier entire line. I had noticed the protruding extremities of their ensemble from the bar, conveniently located near the podium where a man from the Fireman's fund was speaking on the intellectually stimulating topic of home owner's insurance. His only crowd was gulping down what was left of a paltry selection of Astor Wine's cheapest stuff, waiting to grab another before heading out into the maze.
I had a glass of wine in my hand when I tripped on a Stark carpet. The red wine spilled all over the man who was in charge of the booth. He took an instant disliking to me, as the wine I spilled his clothes was about to drip all over the product he was trying to exhibit. He excused himself to his company and rushed to the bathroom to gently pad his shirt with damp paper towels. I took this opportunity to inspect a beautiful rug whose view was previously obstructed by the Stark man. He came back with a vengeance, apparently assuming that I had some premeditated intention of ruining his sweater. he asked me to leave the booth before I destroyed something else. "It was just an accident!" I protested. "How much is this one? Is it stain resistant? I'm rather clumsy, as you can see . . ." Clearly irked, the Stark man looked at my glass, now only a quarter full yet still a potentially dangerous item. He grabbed at it, and I pulled it back quickly. My retreat was not clean, however—his thumb and forefinger hit the plastic stem, causing some turbulence. The glass fell from my grip and into a rolled up carpet on display. I hastily excused myself and headed down the aisle, turning right at California Closets. A glance over my shoulder confirmed my suspicion that the Stark man was following me.
I hung out for a while at Aqua Dreams, makers of deluxe bathroom accessories. Unfortunately for them, but conveniently for me, they were shoved into the corner—on purpose I would wager. There had been a slight mistake in the layout which forced this occurence. The space planner, of much theatrical design fame, had placed Aqua Dreams, a relatively unknown company, next to the textile giant Scalamandre. This was probably objected to by the Designer Advisory Council, a board of ten interior designers appointed by AD to monitor the event planning. As evidenced in most of the layout, they tried to separate the show into an elite exhibitioner section, and a commercial exhibitioner section, so as not to undo the great corporate effort to create brand identities. With all of the refreshment stands placed to divide the elite and commercial sections, there was no choice but to push the Aqua Dreams booth as far into the corner as possible, facing the external wall adjacent to the fire exit, lest it stain the unblemished reputation of Scalamandre’s fabric and linen specialists.
After about five minutes I decided to venture out into the fray, confident that the Stark man had returned to his post. Returning to the bar, I met a gentleman who was also disappointed with the show. "The Designer Advisory Council rejected my application for a booth." The man glared towards the main floor with contempt and sipped his wine. "What do you sell?" I asked. "Corporate kitchenware." He gave me his card, which read "Arnold Pots and Pans." He turned to me soberly. "The Council, they're all residential, they're not commercial, well except Shelton, Mindel. They had no interest whatsoever in my product line. " I pointed out the obvious, that it was called the Home show. "Home is a concept," he answered. "It can exist outside of the domicile. With the average Fortune 500 employee working over 50 hours a week, he must forge for himself a home at his office where he can retreat, unable to return to his apartment. The obvious location is the office kitchen, the hearth if you will. My kitchenware transforms the alienating common area of a workspace into an asylum of community and sharing. But they don't feel that I qualify." I thanked Mr. Arnold for sharing his grief, took his card, and headed back out.
Well oiled, guard down, I entered the floor again to continue my search for furnishings. Little did I realize, the Stark man had not given up, he had gone to recruit. While admiring the intricate and luxurious wall coverings of Tartuagua, I noticed my adversary approaching me from the center aisle. Flanked by two security guards, he pointed me out to them. Deciding to vacate the area, I turned to walk the other way when I noticed two elderly women walking right at me. Their faces seemed familiar to me—I had seen them in the brochure. It was Marjorie Shushan and Elissa Cullman from the Designer Advisory Council! They barked orders into walkie talkies while staring right at me, no doubt calling in Vicente Wolf for backup. Both parties closing in on me fast, I had to make an unorthodox exit. Behind me was the booth for Circline, an online portal for interior designers, and a real world portal for myself. I jumped under a Regency desk, making for the gap that would lead me to another aisle. I barely squeezed between an statue of an ostrich and the beautifully painted billiard green wall, landing in the back section of Donghia. Looking through the crack through which I had escaped, I saw the posse conversing. It was time to leave. I scurried down the new aisle following the red exit signs to the door. I made a wrong turn at Scalamandre, and backtracking, saw that I had been trailed by Juan Pablo Molyneaux and Mario Buatta. I turned around to find Craig White and Joanne de Guardiola trying to cut me off at the intersection of B and B Italia and Viking Refrigerators. I reversed to find Molyneaux holding his tape measure and Buatta guarding the the rear. However, they were standing right in front of the emergency exit that lay adjacent to Aqua Dreams. Buatta remained the last obstacle to freedom, but he was a tough one. I had to find his weakness. Molyneax lunged at me and I punched him in the gut. He fell back into a Miyake side table and collapsed. Buatta now approached, but I knew I couldn't pull the same move, he was too quick. Instead I distracted him, knocking off the wall two beautiful sconces designed by Renee Prou. As the delicate lighting began to wobble, Buatta had to make a decision; save the sconces or capture me. He dove over a Knoll footstool to catch the fixtures, which gave me just enough time to slip by. I hurdled the old man, giving him a boot in the groin for good measure, and crashed through the fire exit, setting off a hideous sound. I had escaped the clutches of the Design Advisory Council.
Looking back on the show, I accomplished little in my primary goal to furnish my apartment. However, I did learn why people choose to employ interior designers. While these products all ultimately end up in your house, shopping for them is a difficult experience that can sometimes be alienating. Although I thought the Home Design Show would cater to the public, it was very much for the trade; this is the last time I will try to deal with them. I hopped in a cab on 11th avenue, gave him directions, and headed back, exhausted. Now completely relaxed, I sat down with a glass of real wine on my couch and flipped through the latest issue of AD from the safety of my own home.

H.Q. Latimer Dodds
Brooklyn, New York