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Surtex Finishes on Upbeat Note

The Surtex show for art and design wrapped up last month at the Jacob Javits Center on a positive note.

Most exhibitors who spoke with HTT reported having a good three days, with many saying yesterday's traffic was the best.

"It's been positive, not just in connections but in signed contracts, too," said designer Susan Rooney. While the current economy may be uncertain, she pointed out that for the license art sector and its buyers, "this [show is for] 2010 to 2011, so they're looking down the road."

Designer Stacy Garcia — who began her career in retail-directed home textiles but has spent the past six years in hospitality — made her Surtex debut with an eye toward expanding into retail. She describes her aesthetic as "European flair, but in a way Americans can understand. So we push the envelope, but not off the cliff."

Strong color statements attracted a lot of attention, exhibitors said. "The brighter palette is sort of a medicine for where we are now as a society," said Alex Meisel of Dena Designs, which introduced a new collection called Happi.

Designer Kate Spain agreed. "A lot of the saturated color is what people are responding to across all categories." For holiday goods, she said, she saw more interest in sophisticated looks as opposed to whimsical art.

Monica Dietch of PM Design Group was working with designer Pamela Gladdin observed that traditional designs are evolving as well. "People ask every recession for traditional — but what's traditional today isn't what an art director thought traditional was in the last recession," she said, adding the look is now lighter and less layered.

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