As a designer who lives in the New York City area I sometimes shop at the D&D Building in NYC. If you don’t already know, the D&D stands for “Decoration & Design.” It is known as one of those places that’s “to the trade.”
Design and Decoration building – 979 3rd Ave. NY, NY
I remember quite a long time ago, before I went back to the New York School of Interior Design, I walked into a NYC showroom (not in the D&D building) but one I walked past frequently. It had this lovely carved furniture that I admired every time I walked by. Yes, the Devon Shop. The snooty proprietor asked me if I was “in the trade” and like an idiot, I told him the truth that I was not. I told him that I just wanted to look and apparently, even just looking was ONLY for the “trade.” (now, I get the occasional postcard from them beckoning me to come on by, because now I’m “in the trade.”)
So, how does one go from not being in the trade to being in the trade? These days, it’s pretty easy. After the recession hit, by circa 2009, the only requirement for gaining access was that you had a pulse. Indeed. That’s how bad things were in our industry for a few years, but things are better now. When I started my business, in 1996, however, the rules were pretty strict. Fortunately for me, I had both a degree in interior design and I had worked for other people for four years. I already knew a lot of the showroom folks. So, all that was left was to get a resale certificate and fill out the forms. Once I had a few accounts under my belt, the rest came easily.
I was then, “in the trade.” Back then, many showrooms asked for ID cards and other credentials before they would let you enter. Today. Never. Just walk right in and look around and I guarantee you, that no one will bother you. After all… you are just “looking.” When it comes time to buying, however, you must have an account.
These days, because of the internet, I don’t have to go in as much as I used to. I frequently shop online and even can order samples online. It’s great! However, every once in a while, I like to go in to see what’s new and shop for clients. I always take out some samples for my library and most of them I eventually use for future jobs.
I never buy furniture from the D&D. I did a few times, very early in my career. But not now. The furniture they sell is very nice but wildly expensive— like 10k as a starting price for a sofa at Brunschwig and Fils. I don’t know who Brunschwig is or even his sons; probably sold their name years ago. As a matter of fact, there is now a conglomeration of showrooms including Lee Jofa, Kravet and Brunschwig. After the recession hit, many showrooms banded together in this manner in order to stay afloat. I always hit those three who while are under the same umbrella have three distinctly different showrooms. Some companies under the same umbrella share the space to save money. Other favorites are F. Schumacher, Cowtan and Tout, Osborne and Little, Ralph Lauren, Duralee, (great for lower moderately priced fabrics), Robert Allen, Quadrille and Clarence House. Although, admittedly, I don’t visit Clarence House as much as I used to, because they did not join forces; they merely shrunk their showroom by two-thirds. It just doesn’t have the same attraction as it once did. I do visit other sources as well from time to time.
Here are some of the hi-lights from my shopping trip. My photos were all taken on Instagram and I have to say, that I’m taken with how well they came out for just quick snapshots. I think it’s a testament to good lighting and a nice little I-phone camera.
First stop… F. Schumacher. My client tomorrow expressed interest in this fabric, but alas… they didn’t have the sample. However, while there, I did manage to finally snag a couple of samples of Chiang Mai Dragon. I know that it’s EVERYWHERE, but the colors are just so wonderful.
Is that big enough? haha! See the dragon? It’s the aquamarine colorway. I also love the blue, red and porcelain. There’s also one with a brownish background. I’m not as fond of that one. If you want to Chiang Mai Dragon yourself to death… please look here. :]
While there, I also picked up one of Timothy Corrigan’s new prints
I didn’t meet him, but Timothy was a speaker for the blogger’s conference I went to last March.
I also picked up this beauty. (on the left) I’m a sucker for blue and black.
Later, I spied it near the front door on this charming little stool.
Then, I headed over to Lee Jofa. Hands down, this is my fave showroom. I always stop there for free refreshments. (they have great coffee, fresh fruit and stale muffins. But the fruit is refreshing. Anyway, I was immediately gobsmacked by Aerin Lauder’s giant crystal magnificent light fixture and her lovely boutique collection of the freshest version of traditional fabrics I’ve seen in a long while.
Love this bottle green damask
Here is a prof shot of the showroom
I was also quite taken by this exceedingly sophisticated print in shades of gray also by Aerin Lauder.
I tried to get a sample of this and sorry, I don’t know what it is, but one day, I’ll open up my mailbox and there will be a nice surprise for me. Then… I really wanted to get a sample of this paper from Cole and Son. They are an English wallpaper firm repped by Lee Jofa.
What is funny, is that I forgot to write down the name and the showroom rep had no idea what I was talking about… so I took my phone and looked up the email where I had sent it to my client. I went over to the guy in the sample department who’s been there for 18 years. He knows every single fabric blindfolded. He knew it instantly and said that it hasn’t come in yet. Wow! Impressive, huh? It’s that new, but will be here soon. Isn’t it fabulous??? It’s the first grisaille wallpaper that’s in the spirit of the REALLY expensive hand-painted stuff. Mind you, it’s not cheap, but it won’t cost 15,000 to paper the bathroom.
I was completely enchanted with these luminous Celadon lamps also in the Lee Jofa showroom.
After Lee Jofa, I went to Duralee and took out a whole mess of fabrics for my appointment tomorrow and then I decided to check out the new Brunschwig et Fils showroom. Wow! They did a great job!
A re-issued print from the 70’s. Ahhh… what’s old is new again! Here it is in two other colorways as well. All reconfigured by one of my design idols, Michael S. Smith.
An unintentional selfie in a pretty area lined with mirrors showcasing their lighting.
This is a wonderful way to showcase a striped fabric on a pillow from the Brunschwig showroom.
After I finished my shopping and picked up several bags of samples, something told me to take a photo of this Stroheim Vignette for my client S for the downstairs media room.
I showed it to her yesterday and she flipped out. She said… “I don’t care how you work it out, but I must have that vase wallpaper in the new media room.”
I told her… “I’m on the task, I’ll make it work.” (uh oh… I said I would, so I better do it.) Her eyes lit up and there was an excitement in her voice that told me there was no doubt.
Now, I just have to find the right rug.