Once again, September brings the International Casual Furniture Market to the Windy City and those of us in the outdoor furniture industry together for another market.
A newly renovated Merchandise Mart, begun last year, jolted long-timers out of the same-old routine and offered some interesting adaptations of this venerable old space to twenty-first century use. I particularly liked those areas where people could congregate with their laptops to continue working while not at a traditional desk.
The halls were bustling and busy, with late afternoon cocktail parties and many opportunities for socializing and mingling between exhibitors and buyers. The riverside opening night gala party is always casual and energetic and a favored stop before heading to dinner at one of Chicago’s myriad of mouth-watering restaurants.( For the record, I recommend Kiki’s Bistro and Pane Caldo, two favorites that we make sure to book in advance each year.)
Lloyd Flanders threw a party for Reflections—its thirty year old collection that is still going strong today. Funny, it looks as youthful and solid as it did when introduced all those years ago! Some things never age.
New styles were apparent everywhere, with excitement in each booth and showroom from devoted retailers looking for new looks for savvy customers.
It seems that everyone is getting into the wicker and recycled categories. Many manufacturers typically known for metal or wood products, featured mixed-media designs—one of my favorites is the Wildwood Collection from Lloyd Flanders. An aged teak frame features a loomed all-weather wicker back inset, and, in the mink wicker colorway, the effect was stunning.
Alternative tabletops are always in demand and this year’s introductions from Neille Olson Home and Garden did not disappoint. Large scale, grand designs were showstoppers in their traditional line, with the new Giovella design exhibiting a painterly quality that almost looked like brushstrokes. And, to prove how busy they have been in Arizona, they have introduced a new Modern Living Collection, featuring simplified designs and coordinating patterns that make it easy to blend together.
The vibe was upbeat and the tempo fast-paced. Both exhibitors and buyers seemed optimistic (despite crazy election year antics) for a 2017 season that will bring good things for all. For me, I celebrated my thirty-first year of attending the casual show in Chicago. Whew! Where has the time gone? I am happy to say that attending market continues to get me excited, so here’s to number thirty-two!