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Publication Date: 2013-09-09

Behind the Design

12 Questions: Troy Hanson & Megan Reilly Of Westedge Design Fair

This year, designers and design enthusiasts found themselves adding a new destination to the list for can’t-miss contemporary design shows: Los Angeles. On October 3, WestEdge Design Fair premieres at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA, and we recently sat down with founders Megan Reilly and Troy Hanson to get the inside scoop.


DH: First things first—both of you are industry veterans in the world of home design trade shows. Tell us a little bit about each of your backgrounds.

TH: I launched the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in 2000 for my former employer. In 2004, I left to manage ICFF, but returned to the AD Show two years later, which I continued producing with Megan, my business partner, until last December.

MR: I actually was on my way to becoming a diplomat until September 11 when I moved from Washington, D.C. to Chicago to get some perspective and re-evaluate things. There, one thing led to another, and I was hired to work at the Merchandise Mart producing NeoCon. That was my first foray into the design world and event production. In 2005, I moved to New York City to take a position with the AD Home Design Show, which is where I met Troy. We’ve been collaborating together since.

DH: Why the decision to start WestEdge and why now?

TH: Our clients and partners have been encouraging us to launch an event on the West Coast for years given the demand for a premium design fair in this region. The West Coast has been underserved when it comes to a major event that highlights the many sectors of the design community.

MR: Los Angeles is experiencing a renaissance of sorts as it relates to art and design, architecture and manufacturing. This momentum is a very exciting thing to be a part of and something we felt needed to be celebrated.

DH: What do you think makes Los Angeles unique as a design destination?

TH: People on the West Coast seemingly have a very different perspective of life—and living—than the rest of the country. The product design and interiors we see in LA reflect this community’s love of nature, its vanity and its celebrity.

MR: The city is so large and spread out, each area seems to have such a different and unique identity—from the more glamour infused West Hollywood and new development Downtown, to the bohemian chic stores in Venice and old world appeal of Pasadena. There are so many different pockets, all with a unique history and story to tell, and so many creative types doing and making things—I think that combo makes for a great design destination.

DH: Has the reaction to a new design fair in LA been what you expected?

TH: Yes, and more. We’ve been evaluating the idea of a West Coast event for many years. Since our clients have been asking us with such increased frequency to launch a fair in LA — conversations which were literally taking place on a daily basis over the last three years,it came as no surprise (although still incredibly gratifying) that the response was so immediate after the announcement was made. A high-end, modern design fair is long overdue on the West Coast.

MR: The reaction has far exceeded our expectations! There has been so much good will from the West Coast design community, along with our East Coast friends and clients, not to mention the strong media partner support across the board. We feel really fortunate to have such great brands and individuals involved with us!

DH: What are you most excited to see at the Fair?

TH: The fair itself, from the moment the doors open. It has been in the works for so long, and we’ve put so much heart and soul into it. We’re very fortunate to have the most amazing talent represented at the fair, and I can’t wait to see it all come together.

MR: Agreed. At this stage, we are most excited to see everything come together, and to welcome the many people who’ve shown tremendous support and enthusiasm!

DH: What has been the most challenging part about starting WestEdge?

TH: Traffic, jet lag, and sleep deprivation.

MR: 6:00 am PST conference calls with the East Coast, getting acclimated again to car culture in L.A. and wearing more hats than I’ve ever had.

DH: What has been the most fun part?

TH: Getting to know the extraordinarily talented industry professionals on the West Coast – they have been incredibly gracious, welcoming and enthusiastic. And the weather in Santa Monica hasn’t hurt either…

MR: The support and enthusiasm from so many within the design community and beyond; uncovering the many gems and design finds of L.A.’s various neighborhoods, and spending more time in Santa Monica as of late.

DH: Are WestEdge Exhibitors mostly West Coast companies?

TH: Although WestEdge has great names from the West Coast, the fair boasts a mix of brands from throughout the country as well as international representation. We felt that attendees at WestEdge would find much greater value in seeing lines from companies that they may not be as familiar with. We are exceedingly pleased to have such a strong showing from our New York-based friends.

DH: What trends are you seeing among your exhibitors?

TH: “Detailed simplicity”…We have specifically targeted exhibitors that are creating unique, meticulously handcrafted, modern designs in limited production and smaller editions. Collections from a majority of our exhibitors are modern, clean, organic, and for the most part, made using sustainable manufacturing processes.

DH: What’s your favorite design trend at the moment?

TH: The rising awareness of, and interest in, the anti-copying movement. As an industry, we need to support original design, period

DH: What’s the one home furnishing that you can’t live without?

TH: My lamps from Pamela Sunday, outfitted with Plumen light bulbs and no shades. I’m fascinated by Pamela’s designs. They are a constant source of inspiration, and a reminder of how fortunate I am to have a role in this industry.

DH: Lastly, tell us about the special WestEdge offer for the Dering Hall community.

MR: We’re offering Dering Hall friends a promotional ticket offer. By using the promo code DERINGHALL for online, advance purchase, guests will receive a $20 ticket valid Friday-Sunday (which includes a one-year subscription to Architectural Digest).

For more information, visit the official WestEdge Design Fair website.


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