Leslie Stroh Walking ICFF 2017

LESS CUTTING EDGE

Bigger, more diverse, less cutting edge.  In its early days, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair was a hidden gem with cutting edge, and marginally saleable design from artisans and craftspeople.

MORE CORPORATE

ICFF is now a lot more corporate, but with exceptions.   It is mostly about collecting business cards of potential customers. Instead of the participants coming mostly from Brooklyn, the international flavor of the show was its most salient feature.

I take the presence of corporate as a positive not negative development. To me, it means that corporate is taking the variety required by the upscale market seriously, and preparing to meet that demand.

I THINK THE SHOW IS GREAT

I think the show is great. I saw half a dozen old friends and two dozen I never heard of. Visually and intellectually my mind was blown. A ttending ICFF over the years has given me a perspective on the definition of contemporary, and the market and marketing for contemporary. I am convinced that the interplay of wallpaper (a.k.a. wall coverings) and rugs is the story for the next few years because wallpaper is the next (or is) hot thing in home/room design.

THE DAY AFTER

But in terms of selling rugs the day after the show closed, I recognize the challenges. The commercial problem as I see it, is that the people who leave business cards expect follow up sales calls—and that is hard from “x” thousand miles away.

FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM

In general, I have a fundamental problem with the marketing of one item for one customer, waiting for the customer to find a particular product at a particular vendor—what they call the long tail problem. I don’t see an online search solution for that if the consumer relies on “I’ll know what I like when I see it.”