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New ideas abound at Unity For Design conference

Conference took place Feb. 18-19 in High Point

The Unity For Design Conference took place Feb. 18-19 in High Point.Three students' designs were selected as top overall during the High Point Design Center's Unity For Design Conference. Top students were: Zhara Keihani (left), third place; Adriann Welch, second place; and Sheryl Pugh, first place.
Around 108 designers learned more about emerging tabletop trends, sophisticated sustainable design and pricing and profitability tips during the Feb. 18-19 Unity For Design Conference hosted by the High Point Design Center.

The topics of the three presentations - two of which offered CEU credits - intentionally strayed from typical design subjects, according to Ron Bristow, HPDC president.

"Our goal the past few years has been to have relatable, interesting topics and it seems to be working," Bristow said. "We feel like they get enough color trends so we try to give them something else they can use. All of the comments have been positive so we've been really happy."

Bristow said another focus of the event is to create as much interaction among designers and vendors, which opens up avenues of partnership that might not have developed otherwise.

"It's a two-day event and we split the events between the two days and encourage them to go to as many events as they can," he said. "We also give them plenty of time to visit showrooms. We want them to visit showrooms that aren't on their beaten paths when they're at market."

On Feb. 18, Baker hosted a presentation by John Griffith and Kathryn Greeley which focused on trends in tabletop inside its 319 N. Hamilton St. showroom.

"It was a great merge. He did a presentation with three different settings on the changing trends in tabletop over the years; vintage to vogue kind of thing," Bristow said. "(Griffith) did a formal setting where he mixed patterns together, buffet tabletop and bar setting. He went over the growing category of barware - it's becoming more and more substantial in the industry. Kathryn did her own tabletop. It blended nice together. It became an interactive thing, it gave the designers a chance to mix and match patterns. The interactive parts were interesting and they worked well. We want to do more and more of that."

Following lunch and shopping, Doug Cleveland talked about sustainable manufacturing practices inside Harden's 220 Steele St. showroom. Bristow said more and more designers are taking an interest in the subject of sustainability.

"That's a key category on how the industry is working to protect the environment and work through all of the sustainable ideas and concepts that are going on right now," he said.

On Feb. 19, Jody Seivert's discussion revolved around the theme of "Probing and Prioritizing, Pricing and Profitability," or maximizing return on work.

"There were seasoned designers and new designers that were astounded and asked lots of questions. They were very involved in her entire talk," Bristow said.

Throughout the conference, receptions were held in various showrooms, including Stanley Furniture and Feizy Rugs. A raffle, in which 30 design center members donated items, was held at Surya.

Lastly, the winners of the HPDC's Unity in Style student contest were announced. The students were given a layout and told to design a space using product from HPDC members. Sheryl Pugh from Randolph (N.C.) Community College took first place and won $1,000. Adriann Welch, also of RCC, was second and was awarded $500, while Zhara Keihani from Montgomery College in Rockville, Md. was third and was presented $250.

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