Fifteen Florida State University interior design students traveled to High Point, North Carolina this fall for an immersive field experience focused on visual merchandising, led by Assistant Professor Stephanie Sickler.
High Point Market is the largest residential furniture market in the United States. With more than 2,000 exhibitors, the market offers more educational opportunities than several conferences combined and endless networking opportunities.
“Exposing students to High Point Market opens the door to a world of design they didn’t know existed,” said Sickler. “During Market, they connect with professionals in our field practicing in areas ranging from visual merchandising to product design and marketing. The immersive nature of the experience cannot be simulated in the classroom, and each year I am so fulfilled by seeing the students’ joy manifest during this travel experience.”
At the Kravet Showroom, Executive VP of Sales Frank Cauce gave students a tour of their new space, unveiled for the fall market. Students received a warm welcome from the entire Kravet family as well as an overview of the many tools Kravet has curated for designers.
Cauce served as a member of the Advisory Council for the FSU Department Interior Architecture & Design from 2014 to 2018, and his service to our students has continued through the years. The Department is proud to have Michael Starr of Kravet currently serving on the Council.
Aviva Stanoff Design is an American artisanal studio specializing in original textile designs, bespoke pillows, throws and home accessories. Aviva is a leader in the industry for her innovation in surface material decoration and provided an inspirational discussion with the student group.
Currey & Company is a premier resource of wholesale designer lighting, home furnishing and decorative accessories. After a tour of the showroom, CEO Brownlee discussed his passion for the art of Bonsai and the inextricable link between passion and creativity which represents the many facets of our design industry.
FSU alum and College of Fine Arts Dean’s Advisory Council member, Barbara Muse Heard (BS 1981), organized a panel with Caracole’s Creative Director Melanie Dunn and fellow alum Lucie Matthews Patton (BS 1980) on Sunday in the Caracole showroom. The trio inspired students with their passion for interiors stemming from their studies in interior design at FSU.
“Melanie, Lucie and I all began at the same place, but ultimately diverged to different areas,” said Heard. “I hope our careers illustrate the number of design opportunities the furniture industry offered, from showroom/store design to product design, textile development and curation and even engineering.”
Alums Heard, Patton and Dunn all met when working for Drexel Heritage in the early 1980’s and became life-long friends. Dunn’s career continued at the company even as it has expanded, with titles that grew through the decades from director of display planning to visual merchandising director to creative director. Heard went on to work with Baker and Robert Allen, and now works with many clients handling all areas of design: residential, commercial, visual merchandising and video staging. Patton continued to design and restore furniture at the Biltmore House, then moved into her own practice focusing on residential and hospitality.
Students are already planning their return to High Point Market, either next fall with Professor Sickler, or with the firms they will ultimately join as interns or upon graduation. Either way, the benefits of exposure to the innerworkings of the design industry while in school are far-reaching and are made possible by the support of the Department of Interior Architecture and Design and the College of Fine Arts.