blog: news + information from “the home authority”

THE LANGHAM, Chicago – Number One Chicago Hotel on Trip Advisor

December 17th, 2014

Since its grand opening in September 2013, The Langham, Chicago has quickly become a destination of choice as evident with its recent #1 status for best luxury hotel in Chicago on TripAdvisor.

The Langham, Chicago features 316 luxurious guest rooms and suites ranging from the 516 sq. ft. Grand Room to the sprawling Infinity and Regent Suites each spanning 2,700 sq. ft. Conveniently located downtown in a 52-story landmark tower designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe, The Langham, Chicago is just minutes away from the boutique-lined boulevards of Chicago’s retail hub and within walking distance to many of the city’s premier tourist sites.

The distinctive dining options at The Langham, Chicago are suited to both business and leisure travelers. Located on the hotel’s second floor, Travelle’s modern David Rockwell design is a splendid stage for Chef Tim Graham’s contemporary take on Mediterranean cuisine served throughout the day. While the Pavilion features Tiffin at The Langham, the brand’s signature afternoon tea that originated at The Langham, London.

The hotel is also home to Chuan Spa, where guests can indulge in signature wellness and holistic treatments as well as a swimming pool, fitness studio and innovative relaxation facilities.

As an International Home + Housewares Show attendee, experience the timeless qualities that define the Langham legacy since 1865 – heritage, history and legendary hospitality; by booking your room today!

Book now and enjoy these additional incentives:

  • Early-Bird Rate starting at $270. Special low rate will expire on December 31st.
  • Complimentary WiFi/Wired internet in guest rooms.
  • Complimentary access to the 22,000 square foot Chuan Spa & Health Club.

Explore The Langham, Chicago through the snap shots below:Hotel LobbyPavilion Interior

Grand King Bathroom

Grand KingChuan PoolChuan Fitness StudioTravell LoungeTravelle Restaurant

























If you would like to experience The Langham, Chicago during the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show, you can book your hotel reservations now!

IHRA Chairman John Grob to Receive Gift for Life’s Lifetime Achievement Award

December 16th, 2014

John Grob, founder of J. Grob Associates and chairman of the International Housewares Representatives Association (IHRA), will receive the Chuck Yancy Lifetime Achievement Award from Gift for Life during the organization’s Party for Life Feb. 2 in New York City.

Gift for Life, a charitable organization founded by gift and home industry professionals, brings the industry together annually for the Party for Life event to benefit DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. DIFFA raises funds for HIV/AIDS service and education programs in an attempt to try to eradicate AIDS in the U.S. Each year Gift for Life honors industry leaders who have shown generous spirit and selfless support for others.

This year, in addition to Grob, also being honored are Susan Feldman, co-founder and chief merchandising officer of One Kings Lane, and Beatriz Ball, founder of the eponymous metalware company.

Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1970, Grob became manager of his family’s housewares distributing company. In 1979, he founded his own company, J. Grob Associates, whose lines include upscale housewares and gift suppliers. He is a member of the Gift and Home Trade Association, the National Alliance of Sales Agents and IHA’s Gourmet Trade Development Council.

Gift for Life’s 23rd Annual Party for Life, benefiting DIFFA, will be held Feb. 2 at The Boathouse in New York City’s Central Park. Individual tickets are $125, and sponsorships ranging from $500 through $25,000 are available. For details, contact Steven Williams at, (212) 727-3100.

For additional information about Gift for Life please visit

Going “GREEN” in Stores

December 16th, 2014

by Martin M. Pegler

There is hardly a single home or business publication that one picks up today that doesn’t have an article or two about “greening and sustainability.” Those two words are ubiquitous: seen, heard and talked about everywhere.

More U.S. consumers are looking for “green” products and “green” products sold in “green” environments. For store designers, the goal is to create and build structures that will co-exist with nature, use fewer new materials while making use of existing or recycled/reused and repurposed materials — products that are kinder and gentler to the world in which we live.

Going Green in Retail-Morandin Regali (resize)

Going “green” means different things in different countries. Unfortunately, in some countries greening and sustainability are almost ignored. In other countries, however, going “green” means energy efficient, rainwater harvesting, solar panels and a greater use of daylight.

Forward-thinking designers now put their emphasis on reuse and repurpose when it comes to fixtures and decoratives in store design. So many items already exist and so many pieces of furniture are discarded—tossed out—destroyed—that are still usable and can still function effectively. Often all they need is a new purpose, a new use and a new finish. With the numerous eco-friendly paints, stains and finishes, the previously mentioned old becomes new and reusable and often adds a delightful accent to the surroundings. An old armoire, wardrobe, or chest of drawers given a new coat of acrylic, water-based paint and lined with colorful wallpapers can become a focal feature in a retail space or used as a window displayer.

Mixing old with new is not a recent concept. It has been around from when the “old” was actually “new.” However, today it has a new definition — it means “greening.” It means reusing, recycling and being responsible. It means making new uses of old, worn things and keeping these items that might otherwise be discarded and added to landfills.

Going Green in Retail - Finland winner 2010-11Shop outside (resize)

All it takes is the desire to reuse what is available and the imagination to make whatever it is seem new and different. Existing items in an existing operation can be refurbished, refinished and refashioned and then reused. A visit to a second-hand shop, a salvage depot or an estate sale can turn up “treasures” for the creative, far-seeing and “green” designer or retailer. He or she will see possibilities and a future life in items unwanted by others.

And “GREEN” goes with any color you may want to promote. Besides, as consumers become more aware of what it means to be “green” for them and their future generations, they will start demanding that retailers carry “green” merchandise showcased in “green” settings.

From the World of Design And Fashion – Jörgen Eriksson

December 9th, 2014

by Michelle Hespe

Jörgen Eriksson has made his name in the retail industry for blending the things he is most passionate about in life – fashion and design – to create strong, successful brands that resonate with shoppers. Eriksson started out running his own business in fashion before moving on to a managerial role in duty-free stores at airports across Sweden. These roles gave him solid footing in business, fashion and retail, and he went on to become the kitchen and housewares department CEO for NK, the renowned department store in Sweden. With Eriksson at the helm of NK Glas, Porslin & Kök for seven years, the store raised the bar on innovative retailing, and it not only became a Global Honoree in the 2011-2012 gia Global Innovation Awards but also won the Martin M. Pegler Award for Visual Merchandising.

At NK Glas, Porslin & Kök, Eriksson managed to make the store one of the best, most fashionable homewares stores in Europe, increasing the sales of the store by 33 percent, and reducing the age of the average customer from 55 to 35. This was a crucial element of the store’s success, because it is now aimed squarely at a generation who spend more money on high-end fashion and stylish homewares. The spend for each customer also increased – by a staggering 265 percent.

From the World of Design (resize)

Under the watchful eye of Eriksson, the layout of the store reflected the approach of homewares uniting with fashion. For instance, sales tags are no longer seen, automatically taking away the bargain element of the store, and where there were once many shelves and stacked products, are now long, narrow podiums for products. “Like catwalks, you could say,” says Eriksson.

Fashion was also incorporated into the way that the store marketed its choice of high-end products. “Working with international photographers and stylists clearly conveys everything we do as a company,” said Eriksson in their gia entry. “Vogue can show fashion on the moon, while we can display glass sculptures underwater… Just as you change your clothes or get a new hairstyle, you should also consider the manner in which you mix colors and designs in your home.”

After the big gia wins however, Eriksson made some career moves. He began working as a retail/branding consultant and launched a personal shopping concept for NK Stockholm called Rosenrummet. The idea behind the concept is simple: his company assists people with every aspect of shopping. “It’s a ‘Never No’ Guarantee,” says Eriksson. “We never say no to a client. Anything is possible – they just have to ask. It’s personal shopping, for everything. We do it all, and the client doesn’t have to worry about a thing.”

Juggling different brands and roles keeps Eriksson on his toes and continually surrounded by different stimulus for inspiration. “I love the opportunity I now have to work with different concepts and brands,” he says. “I use my creativity to develop things that I see are needed, with the help of the great people around me. That is really important for me – to have great people around you who can work and develop concepts, and make ideas and dreams come true.”

Eriksson feels that with so much technology in consumers’ lives, it is more important than ever to have nice spaces in which customers can relax while being serviced by the company. “People need a breathing space from so much technology today,” he says. “They need beautiful places to relax in, so we have to take care of every single detail.”

With NK Personal Shopping, Eriksson is also helping people to embrace their own personal style in housewares and refine their lifestyle. “We help our customers choose the things that will make spaces special,” he explains. “Our customers don’t want thousands and thousands of things around them from which to choose. That’s overwhelming. With NK’s personal shopping experience, they don’t need to do the big things because we do them for them – they can just relax and enjoy great moments of self-treatment. The service and ideas always need to be really personal. It’s not the big trends that matter. We make them smaller and combine them, bring them together and put them in our customers’ reach.”

With his busy life and blossoming businesses, the one thing Eriksson never lacks is sources of inspiration. “I find inspiration wherever I am,” he says. “I could be looking at a big thing that IKEA has done – and it could give me an idea for high-end, top fashion. Inspiration comes from everything combined around you, and a lot of travel helps too – meeting a lot of people and talking to them in different ways.”

Eriksson also believes that in today’s world, with more of us spending more and more time online, that retailers need to be more aware than ever of how important it is to have a strong brand presence – in store and online.

“We spend more and more time in front of the computer, and so making your personal style and having a sense of fashion is now even more important,” he says. “You need to create your brand, and you need to create your personal way of existing in the cyber world. Online, you don’t have the intensity of your senses – smell, taste, touch and all of that, so it is really, really important to have your own way of doing things and to stand out.”

Eriksson’s final piece of advice is a simple philosophy reflected in all his work, especially in the case of personal shopping, which is all about placing a personal focus on products that his clients believe will enhance their lives.

“I believe that beauty lies in the eyes of the observer,” he says. “That is one of the important things that you always have to remember as a retailer. Fashion to me, is having your own way of doing things. Build on the things you see around you. Be inspired. And dare to put them together in your own way, and then you find fashion. True fashion.”

IHA Trade Mission – United Kingdom

December 3rd, 2014

by Perry Reynolds

The International Housewares Association sponsored a retail trade mission to the UK last month. If your company has never taken advantage of these missions, those who have will tell you that the missions are an excellent way to create and execute a plan to either open or improve your business in the market in which the trade mission takes place.

Each Trade Mission offers expanded tours of retailers in each market, and more importantly, face-to-face meetings with key decision makers from key retailers in each market. Companies who participate receive Key Retailer Reports including buyer contact information. That information is also available to all members of IHA’s International Business Council (IBC). IBC membership is available to all regular members of IHA at no charge. Information on joining IBC is at

To follow are a few highlights of the recent mission to the UK.

Among the retailers whose stores were visited were: Steamer Trading, Lakeland, Bentalls, TKMaxx, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Argos and Homebase.

The group met with key executives from those stores, from Amazon UK and from four UK-based distributors.

The group’s first visit was to Bentalls where executives explained their unique approach to creating custom assortments for each Bentalls store.


The group later met with Ben Phillips of Steamer Trading, who presented his strategic plan and discussed the attributes of a valuable trading partner for his business.


The group also visited the impressive Central London offices of Amazon UK where executives briefed the group on Amazon UK’s remarkable growth.


On the group’s visit to department store retailer House of Fraser their executive team told the group the story of their recent purchase by company in China and their plans for explosive global growth.


The group had a presentation from buying executives from TKMaxx and John Lewis followed, as all meetings are, with one to one presentations to buyers.

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