This past April, I walked back into the International Window Coverings Expo after a five-year absence. The last show I attended was in 1990 and, at that time, was considered part of show management. It’s a different experience being show management: Up at dawn to prepare for the coming crowds of the day, best suit on to introduce seminars, evening wear for the awards events. Collapse in bed very late at night after too many cocktail parties and then begin the routine all over again—and all with a smile on one’s face. Typically, those involved in putting on a show as enormous as the IWCE return home overly tired, sans voice and with blisters the size of the great state of Georgia on each toe.
What a markedly different experience it is to be an attendee. I
believe the only thing I had in common with show management this
year was the blisters part, because I walked that show both Thursday
and Friday until I was literally bounced out by security on Friday
So, for this person who has seen both sides of this IWCE coin, I
have to say, attending a show like this is worlds different—and
a lot more fun, too.
ADO ATTENDEE PARTY
The ADO party was one of the premier IWCE events for attendees and
it succeeded on all levels. If you dropped by the ADO booth on the
first day of the show, chances are you were told about this remarkable
party. ADO spent oodles of money on terrific food, wine and beer,
and parting gifts. The room was packed and no one walked away empty.
Besides the amazing array of food and places to sit—which after
a day of slogging the show floor was like Mecca for many—attendees
were treated to a informative seminar on ADO fabrics, presented
by longtime favorite, speaker Jamie Gibbs. Entitled, “In an
Age of Thin, Why Wide is Better,” Gibbs presented his information
with a mischievous grin and a bit of bawdy after-five humor. How
Gibbs is able to make a discussion of fabric and its best use, bawdy
is just one of his many charms.
After completion, the floor was turned over ADO’s Wulf family—Klaus
and Karla—and this is huge. These are the owners of a multi-million-dollar
company, and they mingled with all attendees and thanked them for
their continued support and business. The appearance of this couple
and the warmth they exuded was major. A short discussion of ADO’s
new ActiBreeze®, a washable, colorfast, dimensionally stable
fabric followed. Goody bags were handed out as we left.
On a side note: I also had time to actually talk to people, instead
of flying from one responsibility to the next. I met two women who
had breezed off in the afternoon for a spree at College Park Shoes.
Wouldn’t you know it, we were the same shoe size and they also
happened to place their boxes in front of my chair (uh . . . mine
now . . .). We got to talking, and their enthusiasm for the show
was infectious—they were giddy over getting a colorful eraser
finial at the Paris Texas Hardware booth, as well as the “score”
of a tape measure from some other booth they visited. Every time
I ran into them at the show, they addressed me as “girlfriend!”
and would show me other loot they had accumulated.
WCAA NATIONAL MEETING
Every year, members and guests of the Window Coverings Association
of America (WCAA) get together at the show just to knock ideas around,
kick back with colleagues and basically bond. I was delighted to
be invited to this party and had a terrific time talking with these
talented men and women. Really—if you aren’t a member
of the WCAA, you should be. Here’s the link to their site:
WCAA director Mark Nortman is a hoot, too, so if you are expecting
a stodgy party where people mingle quietly . . . well, this one
wasn’t it. It’s nonstop talk about window coverings with
snippets of discussion ranging from how well represented the WCAA
was within the exhibitors to the Trend Vignettes to out-and-out
gossip. It was a great way to end an evening.
IWCE SHOW FLOOR
Pretty much . . . it was huge. I tried for almost six hours to meet
with the fellow from Galaxy Design to talk about his beautiful products
and every time I walked by that booth, it was busy! DreamDraper
was continually swamped (a thanks to DreamDraper’s Eileen Meitzner
for graciously inviting me as her guest to Rebecca Day’s Friday
evening seminar and dinner).
SOMFY’s motorization seminar on the show floor, presented by
Gina Lutkus, offered seven new products as well as terrific information
on how to sell motorization to clients. Adaptive Textiles had a
great free show floor seminar; Aveno’s booth was swamped; Helser
Brothers—swamped. ADO, Comfortex, Van Lathem—swamped,
swamped, swamped. And that’s all I’ll list—there
were way too many to mention.
As for trends, this is where the show fell short, though not for
any other reason than it seemed to be status quo for most of the
manufacturers. While new collections were introduced, as well as
new colors and new motors, it was not a huge standout year for sparkling
We saw new products such as faux stained-glass window arches, decorative
hardware, new passementerie and more, but nothing showed a huge
shift off the latest trend curve. Beautiful products everywhere,
As for the here and now . . . there’s not even a hesitation.
Given a choice between attending and running the show, hands down,
attending is the best!
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in
Minneapolis, MN. She has more than six years’ experience covering
window treatments and interior fashions as the former editor-in-chief
of Window Fashions magazine. Stoehr can be contacted for comments,
queries and trend information at email@example.com.