With COVID shaking up High Point’s biannual market schedule, some showrooms are answering the pandemic (along with lingering questions of how to redefine High Point) by pivoting to make the North Carolina city a year-round design destination. So far, 14 brands have joined High Point x Design—HPxD for short—with sights set on fall for a new approach that will broaden their reach beyond the trade. Here, we explore the five key points the initiative hopes to underscore.
1. Make High Point a must-visit design hub 365 days a year.
Keeping doors open year-round will allow designers to use High Point as a readily accessible resource, propelling the city further into functioning as a true design nucleus. Although not directly affiliated with the High Point Market Authority, HPxD and its mission already have support from organizers of the renown trade show. “As always, our goal is to move the Market forward,” says High Point Market Authority President and CEO Tom Conley. “HPxD asks us all to reconsider traditional paradigms, which will be good for the market, the world of design and the city.”
2. Operate under the adage of “the more, the merrier.”
Traditionally, High Point markets have been open to buyers, media and designers. Founding HPxD showrooms—which include Verellen, South + English, Oly Studio, Mill Collective, The Royals Project and Splashworks—aim to appeal to design aficionados (yes, the public), while still respecting the pros whose roles and expertise remain as important as ever. “HPxD flagship members have a profound understanding of the need to protect our trade partners by upholding an absolute commitment to preferred pricing,” Splashworks founder Tom Van Dessel explains. “At the same time, everybody benefits when we attract more people to High Point as a design destination.”
3. Boost the local economy and the area creatives who define it.
Bottom line: More visitors means more money spent at shops, restaurants and hotels. Local creatives will financially benefit from the consistent influx of passionate parties, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals will help attract more young talent to the area. “Existing makers and High Point-based brands offer an exciting knowledge base and support for the next generation of makers and design students,” Frank Leyon, global director of sales at Oly Studio, says.
4. Think outside the box.
Everyone in the industry has been affected by recent changes to social interactions. Designers, buyers and editors all have had to shift their lines of creative thinking (how many Zoom calls have you had today?), and HPxD flagships have been no different. The feeling is there’s no time like the present to take action on objectives that were once just “ideas.”
5. Get this in motion soon as possible.
HPxD recently unveiled plans for a Premarket Week, slated for September 14-18. The initiative’s inaugural event will give the design community first dibs on shopping opportunities, as well as an early look at October launches. The eye is on the prize: Propel High Point into its next phase as a storied design authority.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include information about Premarket Week.