Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alexa Hampton at Hickory Chair High Point Market October 2012

I admit it, I am a Hickory Chair groupie. Forty years ago, it was Jerry Garcia, and now that
I am older and considerably wiser -- I dance my way over to Hickory Chair the second I roll into High Point. I have shopped High Point for a good thirty years and I have seen peaks and troughs -- euphoria and downright fear. Hickory Chair has managed to fight the tape and maintains a steadfast mission. First of all, Hickory Chair Furniture is a Made in America product, a bold and brave commitment. Equally important, is that of all the manufacturers that we visit, Hickory Chair seeks the most talented designers in the field and follows their lead. The Alexa Hampton space rocks this market for outright energy and style.

 Jay Reardon, president of Hickory Chair (below), is the coolest corporate guy in the world. He not only knows little me, but he sits with me at lunch and remembers my children. He has hired the best designers and armed them with the best sales force in the business. Jay is very much a people person. Alexa is the same way. Before they are smart, dialed in and talented, their true gift is that they thrive on a personal level--they are  super engaged.

The contrast between the devil red walls and the darker shades of black, brown and grey plays up the furniture silhouettes. The red walls would get on your nerves without the blocking of the space with the tape and nailhead trim. I will say, this is the right color of blue-red. If I see one more dirty, browny red dining room, I will stop eating.  This is Diana Vreeland red.

"Red is the great clarifier - bright, cleansing, revealing. It 
makes all colors beautiful. I can't imagine being bored with it - it would be like becoming tired of the person you love. I wanted this apartment to be a garden - but it had to be a garden in hell." D.V.

Notice the Moorish detail defined with nail head trim on Alexa's Allen chair --bottom right. Alexa does stylish without being trendy. It's the look that lasts.  I had to do a little homework when I came back from the showroom, as Alexa was explaining why so much of her collection works so well together. Classical references resonate to her, and while some of the pieces are Egyptian revival, British Regency, French Empire and Biedermeier, the connective tissue is that all those styles were classical revival movements within the same time frame. We know that aesthetics are infectious, so there is a common DNA to the time period and the iterations of its ethos. Style was and will always be viral--very cool. 

Graphic, contemporary patterns kick up the traditional/transitional pieces for a fresh statement. Alexa explained how the furniture, while eclectic, still manages to work  harmoniously together as a room. Starting with scale, Alexa uses intermediate scaled pieces that flow together in the space, creating balance and proportion. . Conversely, rooms that are overly symmetrical can be boring, so there is an art to this.

The Biedermeier  inspired, Alice desk, combined with the transitional/midcentury yet perfectly scaled  Claude chair are sexy together and united by color and virtuoso style. It's a jazzy riff.   There are no rules, but there are rules. Another design newsflash that I absorbed, is that when you use overly scaled furniture in a room, you cannot use antiques, as most of them are too small. I have always resisted the super sizing of homes and furniture,  but Alexa is, of many gifts--articulate.  She can tell you why.

The Ilsa dining room chair on my right is the new top dining chair of my dreams. It is beyond comfortable. Your guests will linger and talk at the table in these chairs for many a memorable evening. They are timeless and beyond stylish. That's what we're going for. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Christiansen dining table with its bamboo turned legs is hands down my favorite dining table. It can be as large as you like. 

 The Breck chair is of slightly smaller scale than the Gregory, which in this vignette was placed next to the sofa. Alexa says she likes to reduce the scale for the chairs opposite a sofa, for a better visual in either direction--got it? It is always an education at Hickory Chair.

The Morten Chest glows against the red walls with a wet lacquer finish. My photo does not show the interlocking circles well, so I included an image from the website. 

 More Circle Games
Next, we moved into the Dorothy Draper inspired black room, set off with white, grey and red silhouettes. Alexa made it more West Coast, in contrast to the high New York Regency theme in the red room. To achieve this end, she used curvier pieces

Miss Alice looks very different in this dusky lair. Jerry Garcia has gone out of my head and now I revert to Rolling Stones: "I want i it painted black, painted black, painted black..." 

Described aptly as "cool and quiet-- structured and tailored," the Gregoryy takes its history from an English Regency frame club chair. It is has a great yin-yang vibe with a masculine frame with a sexy "arrest me" red leather fabric treatment.

Alexa says this room is as "playful" as she gets, but it's really sort of bad-ass. It is the serial seducer lair of a Hollywood producer. You could get in serious trouble here. This is why I love Hickory Chair. The designers have full reign. The settings are a lesson in contemporary, transitional,  and classic, design. The consistent message across the board is scale. If you survey the warehouse in Hickory, you look at a vast space reflecting multiple variations on the theme. The scale is right and you can ebb and flow between designers. But.....  I have a soft spot for funny and wonderful Alexa, so she goes first in my march through market. 


  1. Alexa and Hickory Chair. Wow! These images are above and beyond Liz. Jay Reardon sounds like an absolute gem as well.

    Totally agree with you on the Christiansen Dining Table and Morten Chest!!

    2012 Artists Series

  2. What a great post Liz!! Totally agree - love both Hickory and Alexa. We started our tour with Laura but when she got called away, Jay's wife Ginnie came and took over where she left off - welcoming and knowledgeable!

  3. We are so fortunate to have a wonderful team of Creative designers who continue to create amazing new products our Artisans in Hickory love to handcraft. We always enjoy seeing them in their new homes . Alexa's presentation this Market was a true testimony to the wide range of ways these pieces can be transformed to fit the specific needs and tastes of clients across the world! I am proud to be associated and friends with such a wonderful group of people who love their creaft. Thank you for visiting us again!

  4. Liz,

    Thanks for the great post on Hickory Chair Company and Alexa Hampton. Her red and black rooms and new introductions were a huge hit this market. We appreciate your support and passion for the business. Let's us know how we can help.


    Nathan Copeland
    Hickory Chair Company

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