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High Point's Commerce Wing Lobby Gets Elegant Upgrade

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IHFC has pulled out all the stops on a massive, multi-million-dollar renovation of the Commerce Wing Lobby – the primary entrance to the world’s largest showroom building at the world’s largest home furnishings market. The transformation of the significantly larger lobby will be completed when the fall edition of the High Point Market opens Oct. 16. By the time doors open on the spring market in March, the Commerce façade will have morphed into a barely recognizable entrance, complete with stainless-steel cantilevered awnings tying IHFC’s front door to the upgraded Mendenhall Transportation Center just outside. “This is the exciting beginning of a grand new look at IHFC,” says CEO Tom Lindh. “Piece by piece, we will transform the whole building so that it’s fresh, elegant and fashion-forward. After all, we are in the fashion business. We can’t ask exhibitors to make these investments if we don’t. We have to walk the walk, and we will.” Higher ceilings, stainless-steel signage and much wider corridors, most notably around custom-designed registration desks, establish an inviting sense of spaciousness throughout the Commerce Lobby. Amenities include an upgraded Commerce Café, featuring deli sandwiches, entrée salads and soups, and a full-service bar. The café will function like an airport kiosk (except it’s much larger) for quicker service. In addition, wireless computer stations are positioned along the wider corridor extending into the Interhall. Following are other highlights of the elegant, contemporary design reminiscent of lobbies in five-star resort hotels: Every element has been custom fabricated and hand crafted for this space. Abundant curves and ellipses replace right angles. Matching mahogany panels – each featuring veneers from the same tree – are accented with black absolute granite and appear to float on bending stainless-steel walls. Above the serpentine stainless-steel wall outlining the café floats Thai mango rice paper laminated inside custom glass. Sculpted chandeliers from Fine Art Lamps cascade along two escalators, and other chandeliers complement high-intensity, low-voltage lighting throughout the 20,000-square-foot lobby. White terrazzo – a handcrafted mosaic of chips of broken marble laid in cement and then polished – covers the floor. Wall covering in jade green with gold highlights is all hand painted. “They certainly set the bar very high on this project,” says Mark Silver, owner of Suburban Construction, which has had up to 50 tradesmen in the space since it began demolishing the former lobby as lights went out on the April market. “Every time we had a question along the way, they’ve taken the high road and chosen the very best.” “We’re very excited about this new lobby and the start of IHFC’s extensive makeover, which bodes well for the entire High Point Market,” he says. “Even more importantly, though, we believe buyers and our exhibitors will be pleased with this bold new look.” Opening in 1921, IHFC was the original showroom building in High Point and after 85 years of expansion remains the centerpiece of the world’s largest home-furnishings trade show that attracts more than 90,000 participants twice a year to 2,600 showrooms covering 11.5 million square feet. As “Market Central,” IHFC alone is home to 650 of the leading home-furnishings manufacturers, including 13 of the top 20 companies, and covers 3.5 millions square feet.

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