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Furniture Society cancels Vegas conference

The Furniture Society’s board of trustees voted in late April to cancel the studio furniture group’s annual conference, which was to take place July 20-23 during the AWFS fair in Las Vegas, according to conference program coordinator Kern Maass.

“Essentially, the main reason for not proceeding with the conference was a growing recognition that the society would incur unexpectedly high costs that could not be recovered, thus jeopardizing the society’s tight financial position,” according to a statement posted on the group’s website. “At the same time, it was increasingly apparent that this conference, being quite different from the society’s typical annual event, was unlikely to attract the level of attendance that would justify the commitment and expense to carry it off.

“We believe it is far better in the months ahead to focus on the potential of our newly designed exhibition booth that made its debut at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in March. This booth is all we had hoped for and more. It provides a most attractive setting for the display and sale of members’ work and it will be doing just that at its next stop: the International Contemporary Furniture Fair May 14-17 in New York. We’ll be assessing other opportunities for its use going forward and welcome recommendations.”

The Furniture Society has always held its annual conferences on a college campus or at other academic settings. The group approached the AWFS in 2009 about having the conference in Las Vegas, according to Angelo Gangone, executive vice president of AWFS trade shows.

“The society’s board president, Andy Glantz, felt that the cutting-edge technology, education and other show features available at the AWFS fair would add a new layer to their conference education, especially for those members interested in custom production furniture, CAD and other areas that overlap with industry.

“AWFS was pleased to welcome the society to the show and extended a number of services to their organization, including a sizable booth intended for showcasing their member works with an adjacent lounge area, meeting rooms and a discount on education programs,” says Gangone. “It is unfortunate that the society’s current financial situation prevents them from moving forward with creating and holding their conference program. Even though hotel prices couldn’t be better than they are just now in Vegas, the society didn’t feel they had a [sufficient] number of members in the Western region to call on [to show their work] and were also feeling that their member turnout might be low given the preference of many members to stick with a more conventional and traditional studio art conference.”

The AWFS will honor its 10 percent discount to society members attending the fair’s College of Woodworking Knowledge education programs.

Without a conference in 2011, society members must wait for their next official get-together June 14-16, 2012, at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine.

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This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue.

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