They came from the Northeast, California and Hawaii. A group came all the way from Trinidad and others from the Mid-Atlantic states. Many, many more came from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and New England. They were drawn to historic Valley Forge, PA, for the 16th Custom Home Furnishings Conference & Trade Show presented by Draperies & Window Coverings, October 4 to 7.
All told, more than 600 were in attendance at this fall’s conference where they were presented a slate of 52 seminars, nearly half of which were new, covering all aspects of designing, fabricating and installing custom window treatments, accessories and slipcovers. The 21 instructors, several joining the industry-leading staff for the first time, also taught business and profit-building courses from photography to contracts, mailing lists and organizational techniques—offered in basic to advanced levels.
To further their educational development, conference attendees visited an exhibit hall featuring 60 booths from suppliers offering fabric, patterns, steam irons, sewing machines, trims, pillows, workroom fabrication tools, design and business software and much more. Those opting for the full, four-day conference pass—the best value offered—had the full schedule of classes available to choose from and received exhibitor coupons and a certificate of attendance.
UNIQUE SEMINAR SCHEDULE
The core of this conference is the educational opportunity it presents. This unique, intense, four-day event begins will a full day of 19 sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m on Thursday and runs through 12:30 p.m. Sunday. This year 25 new classes and topics were added to the outstanding seminar schedule of 52 sessions. An average of six new topics had been introduced each day of the conference. Among them were “Motorization for the Workroom,” taught by Mary Ann Plumlee; “Technology Can Be Beautiful, and Profitable,” led by LouAnn Reed; and “Terms and Conditions of Contracts,” with Cathy Tucker.
As in previous conferences, the full seminar schedule included sessions under the categories of Fabrication, Design, Slipcovers, Upho-lstery, Installation and Hardware, and General Business—all with the aim of helping designers and workrooms harvest success through their hard work.
The Friday and Saturday class schedules ran through noon so attendees could spend the afternoon shopping the exhibit hall for new product lines, equipment and fabrication tools. Pillows, zippers, scissors, trims, tassels, fabric, shade components, patterns, templates, swag and pleat making tools and much more were displayed along with irons, sewing machines, fabric inspection and rolling machines, and a number of devises and tools to help create and sell custom window treatments. Outside the hall, the Draperies & Window Coverings’ bookstore displayed helpful sketchbooks, fabrication guides and design idea books.
Inside the exhibit hall, along with the products needed to run a successful custom workroom, was the conference’s signature Working Workroom—a space dedicated to demonstrating many of the products seen in the booths, including a professional worktable and a selection of sewing machines.
During the two-day trade show portion of the event exhibitors also were provided the opportunity to hold product demonstrations off the exhibit floor in one of the seminar rooms. Here, attendees could take time to ask questions and learn about an exhibitor’s specific tool, technique or program away from the crowds.
New at this conference was the Passport of Savings. Each attendee was given a passport printed with the names of the exhibitors. After visiting each booth and getting the passport stamped, the completed passport entered its holder into a drawing for prizes on the last day of the conference.
In the Valley Forge exhibit hall, Arlene Fjellman, Hang-Ups Interiors, returned to challenge Jeanelle Dech, Adaptive Textiles, in The Great American Slipcover Race. Not only is the race a crowd favorite, but along the way the reverse-pin method of creating form-fitting custom slipcovers was explained with attendees free to ask questions and get a close-up look at the handwork.
The Thursday luncheon keynote speaker was designer Michael Payne, sponsored by Exciting Windows! The host the HGTV’s “Designing for the Sexes,” Payne talked about the importance of window treatments for beauty and privacy in any room design. He explained that, for him, it’s the most natural thing in the world to consider drapery treatments at the same time as choosing upholstery fabric and furnishings.
Not only was Payne able to address window treatments as an ASID designer, but also from a personal perspective in the remodeling of his own California home. In tackling this project, he was faced with treating tall, arched-top windows in the bedroom. He confessed to not being able to draw up a suitable solution on his own. The solution—motorized blackout shades over treated with drapery panels—came from a workroom professional: Dian Gabarini, Designs by Dian. The finished results will be shown in Payne’s upcoming book and DVD, “The House of Payne.”
The next Draperies & Window Coverings’ sponsored event will be the Southern Design & Workroom Conference™ (D&WC), which will be held at the Knoxville Conference Center, Knoxville, TN, February 28 to March 2, 2008. For complete details and a pre-registration form go to www.dwconference.com.
Beginning in 2008, this conference and trade show will be known as the Design & Workroom Conference and will begin a twice-a-year schedule.