High Point Market
The High Point Furniture Market is gigantic, the largest furnishing market in the world. This semi-annual event attaches over 100,000 vendors, designers and buyers from all over the world. I left my heels in New Orleans because this is a tennis shoe kind of adventure.
I was excited to check out amazing designers’ newest collections, feel luxurious fabrics, and explore all the latest trends in home furnishing. I wasn’t expecting the best part of my whole trip to be a spontaneous excursion to a factory a little outside of town.
My father was in the manufacturing business so when we arrived at Thayer Coggins’ factory I felt right at home. Like my father’s factory, Thayer Coggins is a family owned business who pride themselves on quality and craftsmanship. Coggin’s daughter, Royale Coggin Wiggin, now runs the company and was our tour guide.
Thayer Coggins first got into the furniture business by manufacturing sleeper sofas and rocking chairs. He found the work unimaginative so he went to Europe seeking inspiration. There he saw clean lines and top quality upholstery. When he returned to the US in 1953 he met Milo Baughman. Coggins had never seen anything like Baughman’s modern designs and a legendary partnership was born.
On the factory floor stacks of soft leather and textured fabric bring warmth to the industrial machines and concrete walls. The company’s value of “quality first, production second” is literally posted throughout the workshop and is clearly being practiced. Watching real people working on the skeleton of what will eventually become a classic Milo Baughman Recliner or an iconic 1188 Dining Chair was a great reminder of the importance of purchasing authentic pieces.
My clients often ask why buy an expensive piece when they can find a similar version, usually online, for much less. I speak about the quality, construction, and attention to detail, which are extremely important, but after my visit to Thayer Coggins I see it is also about the people involved. When you invest in authentic pieces you are also investing in the designers and artist who first sketched an idea to the master craftsmen (and craftswomen, of course) who take such pride in their work.
Do not get me wrong, it is a wonderful thing that innovations in manufacturing have expanded access to fabulous design, particularly in regards to price and convenience. But much like the food we eat and clothes we wear it is important to know where and how the furniture you purchase is produced.
Thayer Coggins is apart of what was a massive American furniture industry that has been rapidly declining. I left the factory feeling grateful that family owned business like Thayer Coggins are keeping the spirit of quality and craftsmanship alive and well in North Carolina. I also left with a renewed commitment to support companies who value their employees and products.