Chair exhibit to boost Habitat

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — It started with cows in Chicago that spawned angels in Los Angeles, hornets in Charlotte, wolves in Raleigh and tennis rackets in Winston-Salem.

And late this summer and early fall, thanks to InFurniture magazine, chairs will sprout in High Point, the latest in a string of U.S. cities that have hosted outdoor exhibits of quirky fiberglass-like sculptures to benefit local charities.

Scheduled to run from mid-August through the first week of the International Home Furnishing Market in mid-October, “A Chair Affair” aims to raise $250,000 to benefit Habitat for Humanity of High Point, Archdale and Trinity.

“This is a great way to celebrate the Furniture Market and have that market benefit families in High Point,” says Susan Wood, Habitat’s executive director.

Rick Harrison, founder and publisher of InFurniture, a monthly publication of New York-based Fairchild Publications, says he already has signed up 10 corporate sponsors, each paying $7,500 to sponsor a single sculpture.

The sculptures, which will be made of an environmentally safe polymer and designed by local artists or by the sponsors to resemble overstuffed chairs, will be placed in outdoor common areas near the Furniture Market buildings, and in selected greenspace areas downtown.

“What I was looking for was an opportunity to involve the furniture industry with local Triad businesses and get them to come together with an event that had a common theme,” says Harrison, who started the monthly magazine three years ago after serving as publisher of Casual Living magazine in Greensboro.

The auction will be held during the market, which is expected to attract 75,000 visitors, Harrison says.

Wood says the exhibit, which she hopes will be an annual Habitat benefit, could generate enough money to build three houses next year.

Habitat, which was formed in 1987 and has built 52 houses, has set a goal of increasing its annual production, now about five houses a year.

The group, which is targeting High Point’s West End neighborhood after building 33 houses from 1996 through 2002 in Habitat Woods on the city’s east side, also wants to expand into Archdale and Trinity.

With an annual budget of $590,000, Habitat typically finances houses through sponsorships by churches, businesses and individuals.

The group, which has nine families on a waiting list for houses, also raises money through grants, special events and a bargain store that resells donated building materials.

The city of High Point this year gave Habitat a $30,000 grant to install roads and water and sewer lines for five lots in West End.

Corporate sponsors for A Chair Affair include Costa Blanca Textiles, Leather Miracles and the U.S. office of German-based Schillig, all in High Point; Vanguard Furniture and King Hickory, both in Hickory; La-Z-Boy, Monroe, Mich.; Fashion Bed Group, Chicago; Palliser, Winnipeg, Canada; Quaker Fabrics, Fall River, Mass.; and Rowe Furniture, Roanoke, Va.

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