HOME DESIGN SHOW
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
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
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, howeverhis
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 corneron 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 Scalamandres fabric and linen
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
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
meI 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