Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bloggers take Manhattan

Last Monday, over 100 design bloggers converged on Manhattan for a three-day  series of events sponsored by Kravet Fabrics. I took the 6:30AM train out of rainy New England and arrived a little before 11:00 in rainy Manhattan. In the way of modern communications, I ended up sharing a taxi with Kate van Geldern from DomestiKatedLife blog, arrangements made on Twitter.

Monday featured a day of events at the gorgeous Gold LEED certified Hearst Tower. Of course, what we hoped we'd see was this:


With a view like this from the 44th floor where we were set to have lunch:

(photo courtesy of Blogfest 2011)

Instead, our view was this:

But, that was okay, as old and new friends, those who knew people only by Twitter handles or blog names and those who had been conversing by email and phone call met and hugged their hellos. 28 US states and 5 provinces of Canada were represented in the group.  I didn't take too many photographs of the luncheon or the rest of the day for that matter. Too busy people watching and getting to know people.

We were greeted by the Kravet team, including president Scott Kravet, who told of the seven month process of creating this major event. It was certainly a huge PR coup for the Kravets and well deserved. They reported a mind-blowing statistic that every 50 tweets resulted in 100,000 impressions. After lunch, we all moved into a seminar room for a series of lectures.

 (photo courtesy of Blogfest 2011)
The first panel discussion was with the editor's in chief's of Town & Country (Mark Rozzo ) , House Beautiful (Newell Turner), Veranda (Dara Caponigro) and moderated by Kravet's VP of Marketing & Communications Beth Greene. Following this opening panel were three panels featuring the senior editorial staffs of each individual publication along with their respective eic's. They shared their backgrounds (all publishing roads lead through House Beautiful apparently) and some history of each publication. Now, there is no question that House Beautiful and T&C are storied publications. However, in general, there was little real back and forth about the relationship between traditional publishing and the bloggers in the room and it felt a bit too much like a lecture for the great unwashed. That's a little harsh, but not entirely untrue. I think it would have been more interesting and more educational for both sides if instead of panel discussions, it had been more of a roundtable set up with an editor talking to a small group of bloggers. Perhaps next year. Meanwhile Mark Rozzo, who replaced the short lived Stephen Drucker at the helm of T&C was a big hit with the ladies (all but about 10 attendees were ladies).

After an afternoon of all things Hearst, the next stop was the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House. ED is the newest jewel in the Hearst crown, their acquisition being announced a couple of months ago. Since I skipped this event in favor of getting settled at my hotel, I'll post ED's video:


On Monday evening, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo and Jonathan Legate who host DesignTV tweetchats on Twitter, along with Joss and Main, hosted a fun party at the Eventi hotel. My hotel the oddly dark, loud and hipster hotel The Ace was luckily only a block a way.The image below was not my room, but very similar. The rug was black, the walls were black & gray, the lights very dim and there was mere inches of surface space. But, the bed was very comfortable with pristine sheets. And, I had the most delicious baked 3 cheese sandwich at the Breslin restaurant attached to the hotel. Yum.


And so ended day 1. Day two featured a lovely "picnic" lunch at the new Lilly Pulitzer studio in the Lee Jofa showroom followed by a fantastic talk by Barbara Barry, who introduced her new Indochine fabric line for Kravet, and a tea with Ms. Barry in the Kravet showroom. More on that in my next post. To say she was a highlight is an understatement.



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