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Scenes from the Road

March 6, 2009


Presentation in Dallas Design Center Presentation in Dallas Design Center


Presentation, John Brooks Scottsdale Presentation, John Brooks Scottsdale


Presentation, John Brooks Denver Presentation, John Brooks Denver
Denver Crans Baldwin with Kerri Pearson ofStorybook Houses, Denver Reception

New York

Presentation, New York Presentation, New York


Presentation at Donghia Showroom, Cleveland Presentation at Donghia Showroom, Cleveland

In fairness, Detroit wins the dubious honor of hardest hit major city in America. Chrysler was pushed into bankruptcy as I arrived, with GM’s fate questionable. However, Detroit is emphatically NOT a one-industry city, but a delightful mix of talent and culture, and this is very evident in their thriving design community. They have seen tough times before, and many knew how to handle it and had plenty of work, which was a sign to me that anything is possible with the right attitude and hard work.

Having taken a month off from my speaking tour to be in the office during this difficult time, I embarked again to visit designers in Boston, Detroit and Cleveland. I am very grateful to Boston because so many designers turned out to listen and share their own ideas with me so that I could pass them on “down the road”. Over 240 designers attended the presentation which was very professionally staged by Alexis Contant of the Boston Design Center in their Auditorium. Boston is certainly feeling the effects of this recession, but the design community there, as in so many cities, has rallied and is thriving despite the downturn.

Presentation, Boston Presentation, Boston

To Sheila Jones, Donghia, from Susan Reddick, Principal, Susan Reddick Design:
His comments provide many insights into the way in which we should be refocusing our businesses in these economic times and, in fact, beyond.

Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Milan, Italy
Donghia exhibited for a second year at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the world’s largest and most renowned furniture fair, from April 22-27.

Donghia Booth, Salone Donghia Booth, Salone Internazionale

Fairfield County
22 designers joined me for a luncheon presentation in Greenwich last week (on April Fool’s Day!) at a beautiful club on the Long Island Sound. Even in wealthy Fairfield County, CT the same problems exist- predominantly client hesitation and fear, and an unwillingness to spend due to a sense of luxury shame more than a lack of resources. Again, everyone had work, but clients were more of a challenge and projects were harder to start. One message I got from the audience is that confidence begets confidence. If the designer is confident and positive in their outlook it helps the client gain the confidence to decide to start the project instead of waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I especially thank Linherr Hollingsworth as well as Cheryl Dixon for their ideas and suggestions, and Cindy Rinfret for her support.

To Lauren Cooke, Donghia, from Cheryl Dixon, Principal, Dixon Interiors:
I don’t know how or where Crans got his wake up call but what he is doing is breakthrough and I hope that many others follow his leadership. He has a tough road in front of him but he won’t take it sitting down!

I received a warm (and humid) Texas welcome in Houston where I was able to talk with 77 designers in two presentations. Thanks to Brad from I.D. Collection and Beth and the Donghia staff for all their help in making this day in Houston so successful. There was a general consensus here that designers must exude confidence if they expect their clients to gain the confidence they need to start projects that may have stalled.

Presentation, Houston Presentation, Houston
Reception at the Donghia Showroom, Houston Reception at the Donghia Showroom, Houston

To Beth Andrews, Donghia Showroom Manager, from Lucia Harness, Principal, Lucia Harness Designs:
He had some interesting insight on growing business at this challenging time as well as evolving personally. I was completely inspired after hearing him!…Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Thanks to John Brennen of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart for arranging this presentation in The Library at The Mart. While it was disconcerting to see my poster in every elevator (some with hand-drawn moustaches on them!), I was grateful for the effort to invite designers to attend. Over 85 did so, many with great questions and insights, including one designer (whose name I regret I did not retain), who explained the physiology of fear in the brain and what that might mean for all of us. It was great to see Suzanne Lovell, Mary Ann Murphy and Jennifer McAdams, all terrific designers and friends, as well as John Himmel whom I have known for over 45 years!

Donghia's Beautiful New Chicago Showroom Donghia’s Beautiful New Chicago Showroom
Presentation, Chicago Presentation, Chicago

First of all, let me thank Anita Best of the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center who sponsored the talk. Let me also thank Ann Davis and most especially Dotty Travis of Travis & Co., as well as Jeannie Mooney and team from Donghia. Over 100 designers turned out for this event, which was co-hosted by Bergamo’s showroom (Travis & Co.) and Donghia. I enjoyed catching up with Dick Bunn, a designer I have known for many years, and in general enjoyed the warm hospitality of Atlanta’s gracious design community.

Presentation, Atlanta Presentation, Atlanta

Dania, Florida
Nearly 90 designers attended my presentation at The Design Center of the Americas, and the reception following at the Donghia Showroom. It was a great turnout on a warm sunny Florida day. I especially enjoyed my talks with Michelle Castagna of MJG Design, and designer Mimi Laser (who also came to the San Francisco presentation!), both of whom had great ideas that I am adding to my presentation. A nod also to Douglas Hutton, son of famous designer John Hutton, who came to introduce himself. John Hutton was of monumental importance to Donghia’s design history, and many of his inspired creations still grace Donghia Showrooms across the country today.

Presentation, Dania Presentation, Dania

There were two presentations here in Seattle, both excellent! Thanks to everyone who came, and to MJ Munsell from Callison who reminded me that we also need to include in this presentation what Donghia and Bergamo are doing and will do to help the design community in these times. Thanks also to Nancy Burfiend, principal of NB Design, who came to both Seattle presentations and brought her entire staff to the second one. Much appreciated!

To Susan Mills from Susan Marinello, Principal, Design Director of Susan Marinello Interiors:
I was really thinking a lot about Crans and his presentation…the important aspect for me was his dedication to his customers, his willingness to support us and his drive to distinguish Donghia from everyone else. That is creative…He accomplished something – got everyone talking and thinking…something we all need to do!

Seattle Presentation at Kelly Forslund Inc. Presentation at Kelly Forslund Inc., Seattle

Las Vegas
A nice turnout to complement the wildly successful opening of the new Donghia/Bergamo Las Vegas Showroom. Thanks to everyone who came, and to designers Roger Thomas and Sue Conboy for reminders that many designers are doing well amid this mess, often because they are moving forward instead of staying stuck. This is especially gratifying to hear in a market hit as hard as Las Vegas!

San Francisco
Over 100 designers joined me here, and many interested design students as well. There was an eagerness for community here. Gerry Jue, Principal of BAMO gave me what is now the title of this blog, in that we must all be “glass half full” people in our attitudes and approach to business and to life! Thank you everyone.

Los Angeles
With nearly 100 designers in attendance there was a true sense of community and purpose, and a hope that together we can get through this current slowdown. I am very grateful to Michael Berman and Carol Poet for their insights into the early days of Angelo Donghia and pre-Donghia Donghia. LA caused me to think more clearly about why this is so important, not so much this journey, but the effort we must all make to counteract the corrosive affects of fear. Thank you everyone for coming.

Los Angeles Presentation at Donghia Showroom, Los Angeles

Washington DC
Thanks to the efforts of the Washington Design Center we had our first formal presentation with many designers in attendance. The reaction helped me understand that, even if the ideas expressed in this presentation are not useful for everyone, the fact that we are getting together is! Thanks to everyone who came, especially designers Victoria Neal and David Herchik for their non-stop positive attitude- we all need to push through this period with positive energy and a sense that we can accomplish our objectives.

Where this journey began. 22 design principals who tolerated my first attempt to turn a series of random ideas into a coherent message. Special thanks to designer Barbara Gisel for her insights and help, and for her optimistic view of what is possible even during these turbulent times! Thank you all for helping me pioneer this idea!

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