Furniture Society heads to Boone, N.C.

The Furniture Society’s 2009 annual conference will be held June 10-13 at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. This year’s theme, “Industrious: The Design, Craft & Commerce of Furniture Making,” is intended to connect the diverse history of furniture making.

While the society has focused strictly on programs involving handmade furniture from the art side for many years, it is now starting to embrace all types of furniture making, including production, says Lynn Szymanski, the studio furniture group’s interim executive director.

“The main idea is to show studio makers how to produce several pieces at a time or at least show them how to prepare their designs so they can subcontract the work out to another shop,” says Szymanski. “Manufactured furniture has a really strong history in the U.S., especially in North Carolina, and we wanted to honor that.”

Conference organizers are currently developing educational panels that correlate with the production theme, which will involve a number of the surrounding businesses in the area. Other panels will focus on helping artists get their work recognized through marketing techniques.

Appalachian State has recently expanded its industrial design program to include concentrations in product and furniture design, according to program coordinator Kern Maass.

“I was brought in to change the program into a design-based curriculum three years ago,” Maass says. “We thought that with all the strengths that North Carolina has in terms of the industry being essentially in our front yard, as well as craft in western North Carolina, we really are in a position to blend the two and bridge the two rich foundations of North Carolina that really haven’t melded together before. They’ve always co-existed. What better time than to meld the two together than this conference.”

The society has about 1,000 members, and the annual conferences typically draw about 350 attendees.

“We are hoping people will make their vacation around this conference, so we’re going to shoot for probably at least 400 people,” says Szymanski. “[Boone] is a beautiful area in the Smokey Mountains and the campus is wonderful. It’s a pedestrian campus, so there will be a more intimate feeling to the conference.”

Contact: The Furniture Society, 111 Grovewood Road, Asheville, NC 28804. Tel: 828-255-1949. www.furnituresociety.org