Market week in Atlanta is always exciting, but getting the opportunity to hear three design greats speak about various design topics is even more so. I was fortunate enough to just happen upon the panel discussion right as it was beginning. Unbelievably, there were quite a few empty seats. (I guess many others were oblivious about it, too.) I wasn't even sure who the designers on the panel were, but as I scanned the room, I saw a small group sitting at the back chatting; was that SUZANNE KASLER? I could not believe I was lucky enough to stumble into a discussion which included one of my all-time favorite designers. After a little more looking, while trying not to stare, I also recognized Barclay Butera as well sitting with Suzanne. Later as they walked to the front, I realized that Eileen Boyd would be part of the panel,too. Needless to say, I was very excited to hear what they had to say.
The panel was moderated by Traditional Home magazine senior style editor Krissa Rossbund. Because this panel was conducted at market, the questions and discussion were aimed at designers and shop owners in design-related product lines. The discussion was rather loose and informal, touching on subjects such as where the designers get their inspiration, how they deal with the challenging economy right now, and how to be authentic in your business.
All three designers cited travel, specifically travel in Europe, as being a major springboard for their designs. Suzanne said that visiting Paris always recharges her creative batteries. She got the idea to put the large live tree in her design at Blackberry Farm this way.
I was also intriqued to learn that all three designers stated that fashion influences and inspires them in a huge way. Eileen takes her camera literally everewhere with her. "The camera doesn't forget." She photographs anything inspiring; nature, fashion, architecture, colors, etc. and keeps them in files for future reference. She also visits art galleries frequently for color inspiration. Eileen used the the phrase "color story" several times throughout the discussion. She says she likes to create color stories for her clients; colors that have meaning in their lives. I thought that was a very interesting concept.
The designers discussed shopkeeping and how to work in this economical downturn. Barclay says that in his stores he gets rid of pieces that haven't sold in a huge yearly tent sale. Customers come in throngs to these sales. He said he keeps "grounding pieces" and builds around them. He suggested the same idea when designing a room. Suzanne feels that the current downturn is a huge opportunity for boutiques and designers because we give more personal service to clients than the big box stores. Now is the time to pamper our clients and make them feel special.
The moderator asked if they had any favorite shops they liked to visit and all three said they love, love, love the shop Mrs. Howard. (Sadly, I wanted to visit her shop but didn't get the time.)
In conclusion, the designers advised us to be positive in our lives and our businesses and to be true to what got us into the business to start with. Keeping our passion and authenticity should always be kept a priority.
I was happy to listen to these three hugely successful designers and was so impressed with each of them and how really wonderful they all seemed as people.
(Sorry for the terrible photos. As you can imagine, they were beseiged after the panel ended.)