Despite lingering confusion about the new start date (Wednesday versus Thursday, and now ending on Sunday instead of Monday), this month’s Dallas Market was deemed a success by most folks I talked to. Dallas Market Center reported a 60 percent increase in its hotel bookings for the lighting show and concurrent Total Home & Gift Market. Some showrooms drew their unfair share of those buyers and experienced proportionate sales increases. Really, the worst complaints I heard were that attendance seemed only on par with the strength of January 2013, disappointing only because greater forward momentum was anticipated.
Design directions certainly did not disappoint, with true newness in every Trade Mart corridor. We will be showcasing the specific trends we saw in future issues of Residential Lighting, but one overarching theme that summarized the entire show for me was to expect the unexpected. Lines known for certain styles shattered assumptions about their introductions, venturing into new aesthetic territory and often elevated price points. Rather than seeming random and unfocused amidst existing long-held reputations, it was inspiring to see so many comfort zones abandoned, risks that were rewarded by buyers also seeking to shake things up in their retail environments.
A fitting finale was the always-elegant ARTS Awards, where lighting made a strong showing. Founders of ART who received this year’s Academy of Achievement Award included Harvey Hollingsworth of The Natural Light and Eric Bauer, who headed up Bauer Lamp before becoming a marketing guru. In addition to lighting showrooms lauded in their regional categories (Wolfers Lighting, Hinsdale Lighting and Illuminations by Design), the International Retailer award also went to Norburn Lighting. And along with recognition for Visual Comfort’s lighting fixtures and Jamie Young Co.’s portable lamps, reps Chas Lassoff and Doug Glassman did the industry proud by winning awards in their regions. While Product Designer of the Year Mandy Shanahan isn’t strictly a lighting designer, her work for Phillips Collection includes clever pieces like the Bite lamp and Frizzante pendant. Likewise, Rising Star newcomer Emporium Home isn’t exclusively lighting, but each lamp and fixture in the line is sublime. Fingers crossed that this company exhibits in Dallas sometime soon.
Consider this advance warning that the summer show will also begin on a Wednesday (and end on Saturday this time), also moving up our Showroom of the Year Awards presentation to Wednesday, June 18. Less than two weeks remain to submit entries and nominations before the Feb. 3 deadline, so if you’ve been putting it off until after market, now is the time. It has been exciting to see all that has been accomplished in the past year on the entries received so far. And with such a powerful kick-off for 2014, no doubt we will continue to build on that progress.