IDH Field Trip to the Philadelphia Design Center

I recently invited a group of clients to join me at a couple of “to-the-trade-only” design seminars at the Philadelphia Design Center. Although many could not attend because of their work schedules, a few lucky women managed to bite the bullet, pull some strings, or throw caution to the wind in order to find their way there – and what a great time we had!

In the Marc Phillips rug showroom, we oohed and aahed over some magnificently carved and woven rugs in every saturated and muted color imaginable. These are the “rugs as art” treats that fill design magazines and upper-end design show houses. Walk on them?  Listen, between you, me, and the weaver, you’re more likely to want to roll naked on them.

Then we enjoyed a seminar appropriately titled, “Good Looking Is Not Necessarily Good Quality.” Grange furniture designer Valerie Moran led the audience through exactly what goes into manufacturing better furnishings from upholstery to case goods to outdoor furniture. Our group learned what gets traded at the manufacturing end in order to land furnishings at a lower price in retail chains and catalogues.

A luncheon followed at the Grange showroom, which also allowed for a yummy perusal of their fine French furnishings complete with Grange signature hidden drawers. Delish. Happy, with full bellies, I hauled the troops back upstairs to test out their newfound product knowledge by having them test the “sit” on the some of the most comfortable upholstery on the planet up in Kravet’s showroom. Following this, we bolted into the Menagerie showroom to experience the fabulous manufacturers found there in both case goods and upholstery. My client Miriam made us laugh as she inspected the back and underside of every piece of furniture she liked, even crawling on the floor to inspect a few sofas. Miriam, you made your designer proud!

Here I am with my girls relaxing on a Lee sofa at Menagerie…

I couldn’t let the group leave the building without a spin around the Joanne Hudson tile showroom. If heaven were tiled, this would be it. All jaws dropped as the ladies took in everything from porcelain tiles in the most beautifully varied and unusual color palettes, to a host of shimmering iridescent glass tiles, to striking metallic tiles in all manner of shape. And one cannot forget their unbelievable woven stone tiles. Thank you, Joanne!

The afternoon seminar was by Juan Montoya in which he shared beautiful photography and his amazing design perspectives from his newly published book, Juan Montoya. A soft-spoken and thoughtful man, Montoya’s gentle demeanor was in stark contrast to his strikingly bold and confident design work. Highly textured and nuanced, his range is enormous. No wonder he’ll soon be officially named a Parsons icon.

The day was about design as play, design as art, design for the joy of it, and design for design’s sake. So, what do you get when you mix luxury furnishings, insider views of the design world, a spirited designer, and seven fantastic women down at the Philadelphia Design Center? You get an amazingly fun field trip on design!