Claire Coleman Recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award By IFDA
Furniture Industry News Update -
For outstanding contributions to their respective fields within the furnishings and design area, six industry leaders will be honored by the New York Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) with induction into the organization’s prestigious “Circle of Excellence.”
The honorees, ranging from designers and marketers to academics and publishers, will be feted at a Nov. 7 awards gala at the Union Square Ballroom in New York City. The event, titled “Visionaries: Past, Present and Future,” also will feature a special recognition award for Claire Coleman, one of the six founding members of IFDA.
“It was 60 years ago last spring that a group of inspired women founded the Home Fashions League, a visionary group that over the years has become the leading professional community for furnishings and design,” said Susan Hirsh, president of IFDA/NY. “What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of IFDA than to recognize those who laid our foundation, those who are current trendsetters and those who are the future of our industry.”
Former national president of IFDA and honoree, Coleman recently recounted the beginnings of the group back in 1947…
“At the time I was a reporter for Retailing Home Furnishings, which later became HFN. It was my first real job out of school, and I was assigned to
draperies and curtains, covering the various showrooms. One day I heard a discussion of the upcoming furniture and drapery market and a party being planned.
It was only for men.
I approached one of the salesmen and asked, ‘Why can’t women come to your party?’ The answer: ‘They just can’t. Why don’t you start your own club?’
Young and inexperienced enough to accept that challenge, I set up a lunch with five other women – one in fabric manufacture, one from a curtain manufacturer and three from retailing. What I proposed to them was starting our own professional women’s club, as the men wouldn’t let us into theirs.
We finally agreed on what our group should be and called our first meeting. At least a dozen women were present; by the second meeting there were more than 30. We were rolling. We called ourselves the Home Fashions League.”
It was in 1949 that the recently re-named Home Furnishings League went national. Through a stunning reverse, it invited men in the furnishings and design industry to become members in 1984, and four years later it became the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA). Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the organization now has 15 chapters nationwide in addition to unaffiliated members in Canada, Japan and China.
While the organization grew, Coleman’s career also blossomed as she moved from trade journalism to public relations. She worked with the Siesel Company for 16 years before starting her own firm, Claire Coleman Communications.
Present and Future
One of the most anticipated and festive industry events, the IFDA “Circle of Excellence” recognizes individual talent, corporate talent and accomplishments within the design and furnishing community. This year, six inspiring dignitaries will be inducted into the IFDA’s “Circle of Excellence.” In recognition of their achievements and contributions, each honoree will receive a handmade Orrefors crystal award, to be presented at the gala by the master of ceremonies, Warren Shoulberg, editor-in-chief of HFN. Following are the 2007 “Circle of Excellence” inductees in their respective categories:
EDUCATION: Inge Heckel, president, New York School of Interior Design, New York’s only private, not-for-profit college dedicated solely to interior design education.
INTERIOR DESIGN: Barclay Butera, president/CEO, Barclay Butera, Inc., who has been redefining luxury for the past 15 years with his distinctive transitional design influences.
MEDIA: domino magazine, Deborah Needleman, editor-in-chief. Launched by Condé Nast in 2006, domino has quickly become the leading guide to style and decorating in America.
ONLINE MARKETING: Michael Bruno, president/founder of 1stdibs, who has virtually transformed the interior design industry with 1stdibs.com, the most powerful marketplace for antiques and mid-century decorative arts.
INDUSTRIAL DESIGN: Karim Rashid, principal, Karim Rashid, Inc. A self-proclaimed “cultural shaper,” Rashid is a leading figure in the fields of product, furniture and interior design, and is largely credited for bringing exceptional, affordable design to the masses.
RETAIL: Maurice Villency, Eric Villency, president. Transforming retail space into urban sculpture, The Maurice Villency flagship store in Manhattan revolutionized home furnishings retailing.
These winners join some of the top names in the design and home furnishings industries. Previous recipients of what is widely considered the “Oscar” of the industry include designers Raymond Waites, Jamie Drake and Eric Cohler; Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen; Gordon Segal, founder of Crate & Barrel; Sherri Donghia, executive vice president of Donghia Furniture & Textiles, Inc.; author and designer Chris Casson Madden; HGTV; and editors Donna Warner of Metropolitan Home and Margaret Russell of Elle Décor.
About IFDA: Founded in 1947, IFDA is a worldwide professional alliance of leaders representing the diverse industries that constitute the universe of residential and commercial furnishings and design. It is the only all-industry association whose members provide services and products to the furnishings and design industry, and is the driving force, through its programs and services, to enhance the professionalism and stature of the industry worldwide. For more information, visit www.ifda.com.
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