It seems my feet have finally stopped aching as I’m sitting down to write this travelog one week after returning from our team’s visit to High Point Market, Spring 2023. What an endeavor! This may have been even more of a marathon than last year’s group trip to Spain. Some of us recorded over 17,000 steps a day, so you know there was a lot of ground to be covered — and oh, was it beautiful. Amity Worrel & Co.’s first trip to High Point was enlightening, educational, and exhausting all at once. I can’t wait to tell you about it over a cup of tea (or whatever beverage you chose before sitting down to read).
My First Trip to High Point Market
It may surprise some, but after over two (nearly three) decades in the interior design business, I had never been to High Point Market before this spring. For those of you who also haven’t made your first visit, High Point is the largest home-furnishings trade show in the world, hosted twice a year in High Point, North Carolina. The market spans over 10 million square feet featuring roughly 180 buildings, 2,000 exhibitors, and countless new products about to make their way into the design world and your home. (You can see why we racked up close to 20,000 steps every day!)
So what took me so long to make my pilgrimage to this interior design mecca? When I first started out as an interior designer, I was based in New York City, and there seemed to be little reason to leave. At that time, I lived in the center of all things design, with blocks of showrooms, furniture fairs, and markets to explore. The firms I worked for then weren’t making the trip out to North Carolina or even a trip outside Manhattan because they knew anything worth seeing would quickly make its way over. So, why travel?
However, things change. Since the early days of my career, I’ve left the New York scene to create my own interior design firm here in Austin. Over the years, the business has changed, too. More and more designers are entering licensing agreements, writing books, and putting their names on new product lines. There’s more to see than ever before, so it’s become more common and even expected for design firms to make their semi-annual journey to see and be seen. And I had so much fun during my first visit.
The Value of Firsthand Experience
As designers, so much of what we design lies outside of the visual. Of course, a room has to look beautiful, but it also has to feel comfortable — emotionally and to the touch. It was refreshing to break through the digital walls of online research and experience products firsthand, free from the distractions of website reviews. There’s a lot to learn from trusting your expertise, sitting on furniture, and eyeing the details yourself. Moreso, there was the experience of this place itself. I loved feeling the shared energy of the crowd and relishing in the pure showiness of the displays. It was all intoxicating, from the lavish Currey and Company party to the beautiful Lee Industries furniture showroom to the sexy Verellen pop-up experience.
But the Even More Important Value of Connection
But although the showrooms, parties, and educational lectures were all beautifully curated experiences, they weren’t the biggest highlight for me. For me, the best part of High Point was the time to connect with friends and colleagues, and I think other designers out there feel this same sentiment. Part of my drive to build an interior-design business was the connection to people and how we live. And these bonding moments are unsurpassable.
We got close on this trip. My Austin interior-design team and a few friends all bunked together in a large Victorian home in Greensboro. We shared breakfast and coffee in the mornings before setting out on our day, and we drank wine and shared ibuprofen tablets and compression socks with reckless abandon in the evenings. We even encountered the house ghost and had to dry off from a mysterious flood that took place our last morning, but that is a different tale.
Our team connected on a deeper level when we attended a communication talk with Sierra Collins, who walked us through our DISC personality types and how to work with each. It turns out I’m the most difficult personality type to deal with — oh, well! Outside of team bonding, I got to reconnect with my NYC friends, Jessie Carrier and Mara Miller, now of Carrier and Company fame. We even took a little day trip to drive out to one of our favorite upholstered furniture vendors and tour their workshop in person, which made their product all the more real and beautiful to me. There’s nothing else like that personal connection! And I’m grateful for a place like High Point that inspires it.
This Profession Keeps Lifting Me Higher
From my first visit to the D&D Building in NYC as a 20-something aspiring interior designer to my first visit to High Point Market almost 30 years later, I’ve been enamored with our profession. This is a fantastic and interesting industry filled with heart. After all, designers just want to make the world a little bit more beautiful and comfortable. Community experiences like these reinforce what design is all about, and I am so happy to be a part of it.
I look forward to many more visits to High Point with friends and colleagues.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.