1990s: The Total Home

Another look back in honor of our 20th anniversary: To differentiate themselves from mass merchants and each other, lighting showrooms add home décor to the mix.

Cori Dunn
Naples Lamp Shop exemplified the vignette approach to display, incorporating other home categories.

Y2K was just around the corner, but by the late 1990s, the residential lighting industry had already entered a new era.

Mass merchants and mail-order catalogs were finding great success by offering consumers a full complement of home décor options, including lighting. Showrooms that sold only hard-wired ceiling fixtures, pipe and wire realized that portable lamps, mirrors, framed art, accent furniture and other decorative products could be key to their own sales growth — and for some, survival.

Not to be outdone by decorative accessory specialists, residential lighting vendors responded with new portable lamp collections with coordinating accessories and accent furniture. The new tide of broadened assortments also swept Stiffel and other established portable manufacturers into the fixture business.

The Dallas Market Center expanded the fourth floor of the Trade Mart building in 1999 to accommodate new accessory tenants and existing tenants’ larger showrooms.

In a counter move, showroom buildings in High Point went after lighting and portable lamp vendors. At the time, prime High Point buildings had waiting lists for showroom space. Lighting fixture and portable lamp vendors were moved to the front of the line, prized for their power to attract new attendees to the world’s largest home furnishings marketplace.

Oblivious to these turf wars, consumers were delighted to find fully accessorized room vignettes popping up in their local lighting showrooms. In an interview following the grand opening of his store in Naples, FL, Bob Wilson of Wilson Lighting told Residential Lighting: “These days when you walk into a successful lighting showroom, there’s less lighting and more furniture and accessories as a percentage of total sales. Lighting showrooms are becoming lifestyle showrooms.”


Looking back: The '90s


Quoizel moves from Long Island, NY, to new facilities in Goose Creek, SC.

Lutron’s new Radio RA radio frequency lighting control system wins the Consumer Electronics Show’s 1998 Innovation Award.

WithIt (Women in the Home Industries Today) hosts its inaugural meeting at the spring 1998 High Point Market.

The American Lighting Assn. (ALA) launches its Bi-National Advertising and Public Relations program in 1997 with more than 500 vendor, showroom and rep companies taking part.

According to Residential Lighting’s 1998 poll of OEM suppliers, 37 percent use e-mail, but 76 percent of respondents do not have a home page on the Internet.


Cher Madness

Many well-known personalities have been featured in the pages of Residential Lighting, but no one quite as famous as Cher. Hearing that the iconic singer-actress was spotted at High Point buying items for Sanctuary, her mail-order home furnishings catalog, then-Managing Editor Laura Bening landed an interview with her for our March 1996 issue. Our magazine lives on with Bening (now Laura Van Zeyl) at the helm; Sanctuary, not so much.


About this author

Cori Dunn

Cori Dunn has been covering the retail, lighting and furniture industries since 1982, and was the Founding Editor of Residential Lighting. Dunn also created Furniture Style and Home Fashion Forecast magazines. In this blog, she takes a look back at the last two decades in the lighting industry, in honor of Residential Lighting's 20th anniversary.

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