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The Convention Circuit

Posted on: Jun 17, 2015

Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip, photo: Kristen Paulin

Spring is the time of year for national conventions and many trade shows. These conventions have become big business for their producers and frankly, I am amazed at how many companies pay the large fees and allocate huge resources to attend these events, but they do. From very small product people, to Fortune 500 corporations, they all show up in one place to pitch their wares to almost captive audiences. This year, two of my favorite shows were happening at the same time on different coasts. Thanks to the availability of “red-eye” flights, I was able to attend both the Hospitality Design Conference in Las Vegas and the A.I.A. Convention in Atlanta in the same week.

Phillips Collection

Phillips Collection Display, HD Expo, Las Vegas

 First off, there are enough things to look at and do at one of these events to fill up three weeks, let alone three days. At the HD Expo, it was lamps and chairs and every manner of surface finishes to explore. At the A.I.A. Convention, it was all wood, stone, glass and aluminum and a million things you could do with them. Meeting people was easy. Finding companies who needed good photography was a bit harder and landing work, even a greater challenge. But it was all good fun, and for an extrovert like myself, pressing the flesh was its own reward. As for the cities, Las Vegas is always fun for about 24 hours. It looks much better at night than during the day, however. Atlanta impressed me as a city trying to recover from a 70s era downtown make-over that did not do it any favors. I connected with my good client, international lighting designer, Paul Helms, who lives in Atlanta. We spent an afternoon and evening together driving around town and ending up in one of his favorite eateries, the Float Away Cafe. The place was fashioned out of an old warehouse with some very clever indoor and outdoor eating spaces. We had a light meal of tapas on the patio that would have challenged some of the best eateries in San Francisco. I think my favorite were the batter fried squash blossoms filled with goat cheese.

Rock Stars of Stone


Lake Tahoe House

Lake Tahoe House, Walton Architects

 You never know where work will come from. It often seems that you chase after potential clients A, B & C and end up with L, M & N. Our primary clients are architects and interior designers, but we do get calls from a number of building product folks. Often the projects they ask us to shoot are just wonderful and sometimes lead to work with other design firms. The most recent building products firm to make our connection is Maiden Stone, out of Houston. They don’t have a yard or a showroom, just a computer, an office and one heavy suitcase full of rocks. Using the internet, email, and a telephone, they function as liaisons between quarries world wide, design firms here in the U.S and a bullpen of trusted installers. Maiden Stone says that they do a lot more than sell stone. They see themselves as offering a complete product solution from design and selection to installation. The products we have shot for them have run the gamut, but all have been extremely well detailed and executed. Maiden Stone may be the “rock stars of the stone world.”

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