What I learned from #HPMKT 2018

If you have been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you are very aware of how transformative the High Point Market was for this interior design neophyte. These three days changed how I see myself as a historian and an interior designer. The next few weeks are going to be busy as I work on getting my affairs together so that I can truly begin this new chapter in my life.

As a lifetime student (as people love to point out), High Point’s educational atmosphere was invigorating. I learned and observed a lot, so here are my top 10 takeaways:

10.  My god, wear comfortable shoes. I really cannot say enough about this.

9.  You will get lost. No seriously you will. The IHFC should run a haunted maze during the October show. They would make a killing.

8.  Don’t worry about eating. The showrooms throughout High Point are like Costco, but better. Free good that’s yummy? Sign me up!

7.  Open bars to left. Open bars to the right. Open bars all around. Designers like their cocktails.

6.  You will meet sales people you actually want to become friends with. Ever feel sales people are the devil incarnate? Not here. Sure, they want your business, but I met some fantastic reps who I cannot wait to develop business relationships with as I grow as a professional.

5.  Totes, totes, and more totes! They are like rabbits. They exponentially multiply and before you know it, you find yourself with a herd of totes.

4.  Bring an empty suitcase. Thus, you won’t find yourself carrying a stack of books and catalogs to avoid paying the airlines’ extortion.

3.  HPMKT should offer free chairside massages to erase the knots in the upper shoulders and chiropractic services to pop backs into proper ailment. I cannot wait until I see my doctor at the end of the week.

2.  The Market is not color blind and traditional gender roles are found on every level. This is an observation I want to unpack in the future, yet I’ve already touch on this a bit in past blog posts. Suffice to say that although there is gender diversity within the Market’s boundaries, traditional roles abound, especially as you roamed furniture showrooms. As for racial diversity, more can be done, especially by groups such as Withit and ASID. I was thrilled to see many so women and men of color, as well individuals from different parts of the world, in various roles from speakers to sales reps, but the market reflected a white hegemony. There is no doubt that interior design can benefit from encouraging greater inclusivity, showcasing and supporting designers that can broaden this profession’s perceptions and knowledge about how race and ethnicity shape the field.

1.  You will be inspired. If you leave HPMKT not feeling invigorated, you left in a coffin.

Between the showrooms, discussions with fellow designers, and the panels, you learn so much. It can be overwhelming, but that’s the thrill of it. You are bombarded with colors, music, textiles, new and rebooted concepts, so much so, it can feel like information overload. Yet, it all comes together in the end. You walk away with a greater knowledge that makes you a better designer.

As a historian, I went to several conferences, usually two a year. For me, conferences felt isolating because unless you knew someone, or your advisor actually took the time to introduce you, no one was interested, not even academic presses. Even if you met people, you had to put on a show, a song and dance about your work, to impress them with your knowledge. It was all a well-coordinated show, with its producers, directors, principal actors, extras, stage hands, and the audience. Where you are place depends on where you land in the hierarchy.

The only conference I have fond memories about is the one I spent shopping with one of my best friends, who is an outstanding scholar and educator. She gets why I have moved on.

A lot of this is the nature of academia. It is a dog eat dog world, where patriarchy and consumerism reigns. Unless you are very lucky, it usually will kick you to the curb in due time. Even if you are fortunate to succeed, new hobbies, ambitions, and passions emerge to keep you sane in an overall unhealthy environment.

Now, this is not to say there are not persistent issues and concerns in interior design, but not once did I speak to someone who did not glow from within when they spoke about their work. The word passion was used several times. That word has always annoyed me because when historians used it, I found myself asking the question, could you really be passionate in a world that demanded that any creativity be limited, if not stamped out? Is passion for history found in a world of publishing expectations, a lack of jobs, teaching requirements, and ivory tower egos? I always loved the history I wrote about and researched, but did I feel “passion”? No.

But this weekend, I discovered my passion.

I discovered what makes me tick.

I discovered the empowerment behind my business name.

I discovered that empowered interiors is history and design wrapped in passion, inspiration, and confidence.

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