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Culture of India Informs ABC Home

Eco-Friendly Wares Enhance Event

The ethnic, cultural and artistic elements of past and present India were mixed with the sensibilities of today's environmental challenges in the month-long Gateway to India event at high-end retailer ABC Carpet & Home here.

Throughout the store, Indian textiles, furniture, and decorative elements were highlighted in one-of-a-kind and reproduction merchandise developed specifically for the store. And everything involved in the event adhered to the philosophy of Paulette Cole, ceo of the family-owned home furnishings business.

Cole has been at the forefront of developing and marketing sustainable, renewable and environmentally friendly home furnishings for a number of years, and was the team leader in developing this month's program focusing on India.

The India-focused event is one of the industry's first major retailing efforts to bring consumers' attention to environmental issues, as well as workplace conditions, health issues, and design trends in home furnishings that fit within these environmental parameters.

A focal point for consumers was the Marigold Theater, a large space on the second floor of the store that was designed as an authentic presentation space for the abundant menu of speakers and performers throughout the month-long event.

Overall, said Cole, "We had a nice response; we're planting the seeds" for awareness of these issues. "India has been a deep influence for ABC and for me personally. Their cultural wisdom and insights are a real guide."

She added, "We had a tremendous turnout — and a sellout for the talks."

In selecting merchandise, Cole related, "We kept the DNA of their design value. But we created a happy relationship between an indigenous and modern culture." As with the overall approach, Cole noted, "We planted the seeds; it will take time for the concept to develop legs."

Throughout the store, and especially on the main floor and second floor, there was a plethora of handmade rugs, silks and brocades. About 50% of the items were one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and decorative accessories.

At the same time, ABC demonstrated the versatility of the classic Indian fabrics by showing the originals and reproductions as fabrics on classic traditional French and Italian contemporary furniture.

Moving beyond this month's event, Cole sees step two "as keeping up the relationship — developing more organic products and raising the bar of sustainable furnishings. We want to send an appeal to all textile people that we are the catalyst store for this drive. And we already have more than 500 pieces of furniture with the GoodWood label and accountable sourcing."

When questioned regarding the premium that typically exists for sustainable home goods, Cole said, "I think the consumer today will pay more. Manufacturers have to pay for well-designed product as well."

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