NY NOW + Retail Renaissance 2019 by Laurence Carr, Interior Designer

Updated: Feb 28, 2019



Ever-changing and expanding, the New York retail market is experiencing greater changes than ever. Now, our market is saying goodbye to the popularity of retail chains that once dominated the space and is continuing to embrace more innovative, independent solutions at a surprising rate. NY NOW has embraced this fully with its trade show Retail Renaissance, which is all about the buyer experience and discovery at the store as a path to success. Transcension is a new concept introduced in this trade show, explained this way, “Transform. Inspiring. Innovative. Retail is fast evolving and the retailer has to source differently and uniquely to succeed.”


The winter 2019 edition of NY NOW®, the Market for Home, Lifestyle, Handmade + Gift, took place February 3-6 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. NY NOW features three comprehensive collections — Home, Lifestyle and Handmade — these categories encompass tens of thousands of products in hundreds of product categories.


This year the sprawling market introduced more than 700 new designers and producers, and showcased 168 new products, bringing innovation to the forefront. There were three categories Home, Lifestyle and artisans handmade collections. The Artisan experience with live demonstrations was a new addition and experiential activation to the winter market 2019. Not only did these exhibits exemplify the emerging and ever-changing Millennial and Gen Z appetite for a creative, interactive, and innovative shopping experience, it highlighted the intricate discovery experience leveraged by each retailer. In short, this unique tradeshow has successfully become the leading place to learn about unique products and to gain knowledge-based inspiration in today’s evolving retail sector.


Retailers reveled in NY NOW’s Transcend Experience include spaces designed by Robin Baron, Francis Toumbakaris, Vanessa Deleon, Bjorn Bjornsson, Elissa Grayer, Kim Radovich and Charles Pavarini III composed beautiful presentations using exhibitor pieces and items contributed by major brands such as Lladró, Lalique, Baccarat, Roche Bobois, Zanotta and Christofle- from showrooms all over New York City.


It was a delight to see top brands like Kartell, Iittala, Swarovski , Vitra and Nude.



There were a lot of winners of the winter 2019 “Best new product” however  MarySol, a favorite designer of mine who is close to my heart, won the Lifestyle eco award most sellable personal accessories. Founder Laurel Brandstetter was inspired to start this innovative company on a trip to Madagascar to join a community development project in progress. There, she met dozens of local artisans and began to develop a plan to help them use their unique designs, exquisite craftsmanship and creative use of sustainable materials to bring income into their villages. MarySol continues to stay true to their original community mission and use organically tanned leathers and responsibly sourced raw materials.


I was also inspired by several exhibitors and thoroughly enjoyed sharing time with the makers of Selamat, a story-driven, family run company featuring lighting and furniture products from Indonesia and India. Each piece is all at once approachable and artful, maintaining a balanced focus on sustainability and style.




Japanese porcelain designer, Arita, was another standout featuring pieces that are rich in texture and form, and some provide steady function while maintaining a sense of delicacy. The HACHI is Arita’s alternative to a Le Creuset pot, but is much lighter in weight and almost airy in texture.



Gina Desantis Ceramics also pulled me in with her line of handmade ceramics, evoking a cozy, homey feeling I didn’t want to leave. Having written recently about Hygge, the Scandinavian secret to happy living, I interacted with Desantis’ products through a new lens. The textures, weight, and hand-feel of each object was unique, stimulating, and sumptuous all at once.


However, one new venture stood apart from the rest. Elizabeth Foster’s brainchild, Maison Visionnaire has created a line of modern Scented Art Diffusers, a visionary technique to experience beauty and fragrance together. By introducing a luxury line of innovative home fragrance diffusers, a fusion of art and fragrance, she launched  five signature journeys, each one transporting the user to a unique experience through all the senses: Baroque Chic – Flair & Passion, Moroccan Allure – Exotic & Enigmatic and Modern Classic – Timeless & Elegant to name a few. She describes her company’s initiative in this simple statement, “For success with emotional marketing, scent is your mysterious X-factor.” With elite clients in the retail, hospitality, and spa spaces, Foster is a pioneer in the scent marketing field, working from the very notion that, “Science proves there is a direct link within the human brain connecting memory and smell.”  


Foster’s diffusers using European fine fragrances with high quality American products are arguably the most innovative part of her line, slowly, methodically releasing fragrance into a space with the user’s goals in mind. In a retail setting, these diffusers, which look like pieces of art, send luxurious scents tumbling into the air. Whether planned to elevate the mood and increase energy or to support a more relaxed, therapeutic shopping experience, Foster’s offerings offer retailers a new way to connect with consumers through what is arguably their strongest sense.


My experience at NY NOW’s 2019 winter edition gave me a thrilling sense of what’s to come in the retail space in 2019 and beyond. I was thrilled to see a continued, and steadily increasing commitment to sustainability and to witness surprising innovations that place heavy importance on the human aspect of the shopping experience.



Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.

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