By RIMA SUQI
No matter how long the business has been around or how well the buyers think they know their customers, there is always at least one surprise each season.
Sometimes it’s a pleasant one — a design object they took a chance on, which may be more expensive or less conventionally pretty than what their customers normally go for, is an unexpected hit. Other times it’s exactly the opposite, and an item they thought was surefire just sits there gathering dust.
Many buyers find it hard not to take this kind of failure personally. “Every time I pick something and nobody likes it, I’m embarrassed,” said Rayman Boozer, the owner of Apartment 48 in Manhattan. “I know it’s not a judgment about me, but it still makes me feel bad.”
The products that become best sellers, or that fail to sell, can vary widely from store to store, and one establishment’s disappointment may be another’s star.
Andrew Corrie, an owner of Ochre, in SoHo, said he couldn’t move blankets made by Swans Island in Maine, but that he had been told they were selling briskly at a Los Angeles design store. Meanwhile, Auto, in the meatpacking district, has just picked the blankets up, in the hope that they will be a big seller.
What follows is the result of interviews with the owners of several well-regarded design stores in New York and around the country, who were asked to talk about what they’re betting on for the coming season, as well as recent best sellers and bombs.It should be noted that many of those bombs are widely seen as examples of great design, even by the store owners who say they’ve been burned by them. And of course, there is no way to do a comprehensive study of the market, even with a much larger survey, because some storekeepers may have competitive reasons to hold back information. Still, in its anecdotal way, this sampling may shed some light on the country’s taste in design right now. Or else just remind us that there’s no accounting for it