When Allison Weiner, an interior designer responsible for buying and merchandising at Wisconsin-based HJ Martin and Son learned that DOMOTEX, the world’s leading trade fair for floor coverings is expanding to host their first-ever North American show this year, she signed up right away. Upon registering, something caught her eye – the DOMOTEX World Tour Sweepstakes. Though she’s not someone who often enters contests, the idea of an all-expenses-paid VIP trip to DOMOTEX in Hannover, Germany intrigued her. Today, she’s thrilled she entered – and won! As she shares in this interview with DOMOTEX USA, her Hannover experience transformed her perspective of the flooring industry and encouraged her to think outside the box when buying products for her company showroom.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
DOMOTEX USA: Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the flooring industry.
Allison: I went to design school right out of high school and interned at HJ Martin. I’ve been here since – about 16 years! Most of this time was spent on the sales floor as a designer. About five years ago, I transitioned into sales development and merchandising. I now lead the showroom team and make all the buying decisions. I love finding something new for every client.
DOMOTEX USA: How did you learn about the contest and why did you enter?
Allison: I regularly go to shows like SURFACES, Coverings, and Carpet One in the U.S.. When I learned that DOMOTEX was having their inaugural show in the U.S., I was sure to sign up. I want to see what’s going on in the industry so I make every effort to get to new shows. I entered the Sweepstakes and was completely surprised that I was picked to go to Germany!
DOMOTEX USA: Walk us through your experience at DOMOTEX in Hannover.
Allison: Once I got to the venue, I saw a sea of area rugs and just stood in awe. The sheer number of area rugs at this show may be the biggest difference between DOMOTEX and other shows I’ve attended in the U.S.. At the conventions I usually go to I can find area rugs here and there but nothing like what I saw at DOMOTEX. We took a full day just looking at them!
DOMOTEX USA: What impressed you most about these area rugs?
Allison: The passion the exhibitors had when talking about their creations and the cultures behind them was just incredible. They also had crews of people onsite just to move the rugs around so customers could examine and walk on them – it was definitely something to see!
DOMOTEX USA: What was next highlight of your show experience?
Allison: On our second day at the show, we spent most of our time in the main area, which was filled with all sorts of artistic displays made with flooring materials. I loved how different exhibitors showcased unique vignettes.
DOMOTEX: Can you paint a picture of these vignettes for our readers?
Allison: Everyone from college students to large manufacturers found ways to apply unique perspectives to flooring. One gentleman created a scene of waves made from carpet tiles. People lined up to get their picture taken standing on a surfboard amongst the waves. Another exhibitor created a coral reef out of yarn.
These are just a few examples. Each display contained out-of-the-box perspectives. I felt like I was walking through an art museum. It brought me outside of my comfort zone and the norm of the everyday flooring world. I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else.
DOMOTEX USA: How did you spend Day 3?
Allison: I spent time looking at everything from carpet tiles to luxury vinyl and hardwood. I was really impressed with the quality and uniqueness of hardwoods on display. There are so many different luxury vinyl and hardwood options in the U.S. but the ones that stuck out to me at this show were the unique, masterful hardwoods with oil finishes, brushing, antiquing and unique patterns. Some of the unique wood looks had intricate designs resembling water jet mosaics from the tile and stone industry.
DOMOTEX USA: What’s the most valuable learning you brought back to your team in the United States?
Allison: DOMOTEX has broadened my horizons – I’m now able to think outside the box and beyond what I see on an annual basis here in the U.S. I now know that there are so many more flooring options out there and that there are new channels to look at. It will be beneficial for our company to go to DOMOTEX in Hannover every few years so I can bring in options that local distributors aren’t showing.
Customers tend to see the same products over and over. As many different suppliers and vendors as there are around here, it’s wonderful to have products that are unique and exclusive to your showroom.
DOMOTEX USA: Did you also have fun outside the show?
Allison: Yes! My husband was able to join me on this trip. We walked around the city every evening to visit historical sites and eat at local restaurants. We also took a train to Berlin, where we visited the Berlin Wall, different monuments, and had some great food. It was nice to take some time for ourselves outside of the show. My husband is not in the flooring industry, so it was also good for him to see what I do when I travel!
DOMOTEX USA: Would you recommend the DOMOTEX experience to others? If yes, why?
Allison: Absolutely. The sheer scale of the Hannover convention is amazing. You won’t see what you see at conventions here in the U.S. It’s all unique. Even the handful of companies I have seen exhibiting at shows in the U.S. have different booths – on a completely different scale at DOMOTEX.
DOMOTEX USA: What are you most looking forward to at the inaugural DOMOTEX USA show?
Allison: I’m bringing two designers with me, and we’re all looking forward to seeing how DOMOTEX USA evolves over the next few years. Hopefully, we will see the creativity I saw in Hannover, and I’ll be able to hone in on what new products are coming out and how the industry is transforming.
Join Allison and Experience DOMOTEX USA
DOMOTEX USA is the only show in North America that focuses exclusively on floor coverings and connects flooring professionals with the best products and experts from across the United States and around the world. Join us in Atlanta, the heart of the flooring industry to learn about leading-edge technologies, methods and materials, and network with top flooring experts and industry leaders. Learn more and register today!