I've been at this game of furniture design and manufacturing for over 30 years now and have faded "Polaroid" photo's to prove it. I've had my successful runs and recently I've been looking back on the opportunities that presented themselves.
Like some of you today, my first look 30 years ago, was to work the craft show scene. Although the craft show circuit was more vibrant then, the opportunity to "make a good living" was suspect at best. Yes fun, more in the hobby realm, gas money, good exposure, extra cash for another tool, all positives but as an opportunity to make a living and accumulate wealth, the craft circuit would not provide that opportunity.
But what would be the furniture design opportunity to make a living???
Could a gallery be the opportunity??? Could working the Studio Furniture Maker be the angle to opportunity????
Maybe, so I headed to Pitman and Eames early on when they showed Castle and Krenov. I was familiar with both and wanted to see their work first hand, but the gallery scene didn't stir the juices. The idea of one or two owners determining the value of your skill set has never made sense to me. A gallery owner such as Peter Joseph may have an eye and make you money but why limit your opportunities.
So now where was the opportunity to "make a good living".
Coming out of a large manufacturing facility, my skill set would work perfect with a small crew for short production runs of high-end residential case goods. Wha-La!!! OPPORTUNITY!!!!
On that route, I've placed work in the upper east side of Manhattan, all through Long Island from Sands Point to the Hamptons and neighborhoods in-between. The real key was building on that Opportunity of residential case goods and placing pieces in the NYC Design Center at 200 Lex, producing a line that fit the small upscale furniture boutiques of Nassau County, understanding how a sales rep ticks, and squeezing in the work of good interior decorators.
Opportunity comes in funny packages and here's one that I will always remember. Through an interior decorator, we landed a big job in the 5 acre estates of Oyster Bay. The client, a rather wealthy bloak, said lets go for a ride. AH..... my opportunity to ride in an ivory colored Bentley Corniche convertible. The idea behind the ride was to inform me of the incentive to payment and exactly where as we pulled into the parking lot, I would purchase all finishing materials for the job.
Opportunity in furniture design today is different but it still exists. WoodExpo2012 is just that, an opportunity for those serious about making a difference in furniture design and manufacturing. WoodExpo isn't an opportunity to talk about sandpaper grit and what bandsaw you own. Its about finding a synergy with other craftsman and talk business.
WoodExpo2012 is an opportunity to Bust Down the Door and find our way back into the consumers thought process.
Like I said, Opportunity comes in funny packages, but you have to be open and ready to expand the opportunity. WoodExpo2012 is that start!!!!