If you know anything about High Point Market, you know about the hundreds of thousands of square feet of showrooms. Each one has its own personality, café offerings and aesthetic – usually fitting with the company’s furniture style. But overall, one of the most impressive showrooms at High Point Market is the new Universal Furniture showroom. I had the pleasure to learn more about the showroom and Universal Furniture collections from Neil MacKenzie, the Director of Marketing for Universal Furniture, and Janine Wagers, the Creative Director/Showroom Designer.
The Universal Furniture showroom is a total of 118,000+ square feet, broken up into multiple collections, a café and large atrium area. The original section of the building dates back to the 1890s, and the frames of this area were used to build upon. One major challenge during construction was merging this space with the second and third floor, which used to be a mismatch of small showrooms with natural light (a rare thing to find in most showrooms) known as Hamilton Square. However, the merge of old with the new was a gracefully met challenge.
Since the new Universal Furniture showroom debut at Spring 2015 Market, the team has focused on continuing to evolve the showroom experience for their customers. Just after walking through the front doors of the showroom, you’re greeted by an airy atrium space with natural light pouring in through the windows. The atrium has plenty of seating for guests, and between the original framework and modern furniture pieces, it is a beautiful mix of old and new.
According to Janine, the main objective when designing the showroom was to make customers feel relaxed and at home. The overall aesthetic is welcoming, casual and comfortable, with a major focus on the little things that make it feel like home away from home for customers at Market. Universal also offers a bag check, concierge, and an auditorium learning center for guest speakers available at no cost during Market week. There’s even a dedicated space dubbed the “Designers Lounge” for interior designers to have their own place to do work.
“Overall, we want customers who have never been, or haven’t been to Universal in a few years, to really feel a wow-factor when it comes to the showroom space and how far the product has come in terms of styling and finishes.” – Neil MacKenzie, Director of Marketing, Universal Furniture
The Universal Furniture showroom boasts a stunning café area for customers to take a second to relax and enjoy a coffee or a cocktail. The original inspiration when designing the café layout was to bring the outdoors in. Since High Point Market falls in the spring and fall when the weather in North Carolina is just near perfect, the showroom offers a spacious outdoor space with a covered and uncovered patio. There are shuffleboard tables to unwind with a friendly game, a coffee bar and a varying menu of delicious offerings of meals and snacks. When it came to the design aesthetics, Janine focused on carrying the wood aspect throughout the suspended ceiling, and making everything else white and smooth to contrast the wood. The cold white solid surfaces make it brighter, and combine with the warm wood to bring it all together. The glass light fixtures keep it airy and bright, instead of visually interfering with the rest of the design.
“We wanted to convey the feeling of “let’s all get together and share time and food and space, together.”” – Janine Wagers, Creative Director & Showroom Designer, Universal Furniture
One of the most noteworthy elements of the café and atrium area of the showroom are the beautiful cedar log tables and café bar. The tables were created after Janine saw a giant X on what she referred to as, “One of the most beautiful trees in Greensborough” on her daily commute. The 100 year old tree was over 43 inches in diameter, and she knew it had to be salvaged even though she wasn’t sure exactly what she would do with it. Everything fell into place when they began renovating the new building, and finally the five-year process of drying the tree log came to fruition as it was turned into tables and a bar top.
There are four different collections housed in the Universal showroom, broken up across three different floors. On the first floor, you can find the To the Trade product line is exclusive to interior design professionals. On the other side, the Curated collection embodies a more eclectic look, and gives customers a way to put things together that isn’t too “matchy matchy” to create a unique and curated look for their home or store. Floor two is comprised of Universal Collections, full of pieces from the last three markets and best sellers. Up on the third floor, there are three vastly different collections. The first is Modern, an art-gallery like exhibit of modern pieces designed to be different. Paula Dean Home boasts a low-country casual lifestyle and highly contrasts Modern. Last but not least, my personal favorite collection was SmartStuff, a crib to college kids furniture brand that provides safety and function without sacrificing style.
The Universal Furniture showroom is focused on being green conscientious in building and functions, mindful of reusing and recycling, and takes pride in creating a great experience for their customers and guests. Of the many showrooms at High Point Market, the Universal Furniture showroom really sets the bar for innovative design and customer centric service. We’re so excited to return back to the showroom at the Spring High Point Market and be wow’d all over again! You can read more about the Universal Furniture company on their website, here.