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Cinde W. Ingram

HD Expo delivers green

Hospitality Design Expo 2007 in Las Vegas delivered the "green" focus it had promised on both environmental and economic fronts.

The 16th annual trade show and conference, held May 9–12 in more than 320,000 square feet on two floors of the Sands Convention Center, promoted education and discussion of eco-friendly architecture, products and interior design. Final attendance figures reported nearly 20,000 industry professionals gathered for the expanded exhibit. Many attendees and exhibitors described the show as extraordinary.

"This is a great show for us because the type of clientele here understands what we're all about," said Dougan Clarke, CEO of upscale umbrella maker TUUCI. "It's nice to get noticed for what we're doing."

Most outdoor furniture, shade and accessories vendors contacted during the show shared similar positive views.

Rick Price, president of Uwharrie Chair Company, said the company had a good start to this year with its biggest increase primarily in contract sales.

Major casual furniture makers, including Brown Jordan, Gloster, Mallin, Outdoor Lifestyle, O.W. Lee, RockWood, Telescope, Tropitone and Woodard as well as smaller trend-forward vendors, accessory makers and suppliers stayed busy during the four-day show.

Although the HD Expo's reputation is that of relationship building rather than order taking, Rausch Classics' President David Murthick said he talked with one potential customer long enough to ascertain he was a decision-maker then quickly wrote an order for 2,000 lounge chairs. "It's for us where I see our greatest growth," Murthick said of the contract and design niche. "We've had more action in four hours here than in four days in Chicago."

Among the outdoor furniture debuts were la-Fete's sculptural designs, made with 95% recyclable material. "With the modern lifestyle in mind, we try to make it very flexible. All of our pieces are modular," said Los Angeles-based interior designer Angie Thornbury. She spent months of research and development in collaboration with Softub, her husband's spa manufacturing company, after searching unsuccessfully for edgy modern, well-priced outdoor furniture for a project with a resort hotel theme. Recognized recently for her high profile design projects in Hollywood Hills, Thornbury also has had her designer homes featured on syndicated television shows such as ABC's "Beautiful Homes and Great Estates."

LaCor introduced its first true outdoor furniture collection, destined for the design and hospitality trade. LaCor Furniture President Cindy Tiehen described response as phenomenal to her open-weave designs. The Garden Grove, Calif.-based manufacturer showcased faux wicker and continued its focus on sustainable design using rattan, bamboo and other renewable raw materials. "We're an upscale casual line and new players in the outdoor stocking market," Tiehan said. "A designer can make the outdoor room as beautiful as an indoor room."

Seminars on sustainable design and green building were filled to capacity and the Expo's second annual Green Luncheon was quickly sold out.

Major manufacturers, including Homecrest, top left, stayed busy throughout the four-day show, attracting buyers with colorful displays. Above, a newcomer to the casual scene, la-Fete's sculptural designs garnered attention.

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