Having spent the past 14 years immersed in the Gift and Homewares industry, it's safe to say Karl Vassallo of Room Agencies has developed a keen eye for finding `the next big thing'. His company has developed and nurtured an enviable client base from the retail and commercial sector, through to decorators/designers and specifiers, with a wealth of experience in international buying, retail, wholesale and importing: but it's his understanding of the product that is key to his success.
It's this experience and knowledge that led Karl to his latest discovery, Spicher and Company - a leading US based manufacturer of framed artwork from applauded artist Kolene Spicher, whose work often encompasses a playful take on vintage and industrial subjects. Established over 20 years ago, Spicher and Company are headquartered in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA. They have multiple permanent showrooms in key regions throughout the United States. Through leading edge design and reputation Spicher and Company have acquired key positions in the US market place, now extending internationally and exclusively to Australia with Room Agencies.
"We are pleased to partner with Karl and Emma from Room Agencies. The distribution of Spicher and Company's line into Australia is an exciting new venture for us, and we wish Room Agencies much success," said Mark Spicher, Director of Spicher and Company.
Spicher and Company artist, Kolene Spicher has a unique style and flair with her paintings that is easily recognisable. Many of the current design ideas in the US market place have been a direct result of her creativity. She has decorated most of the top name department stores with her modern abstract paintings, and her designs have been used by major brands in their advertising campaigns. Exclusive artwork by Kolene Spicher has been produced and used on many USA TV shows and feature films, such as “The Soprano’s” and “The Deep End Of The Ocean”.
Furniture Fair Online spoke with Karl of Room Agencies recently to chat about his personal history in the industry, the background story on how he discovered the Spicher and Company artwork at the New York International Gift Fair, and his plans to launch Spicher and Company exclusively at Decoration + Design from 1-3 February, 2012 at the Sydney Exhibition Centre.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I first started in the industry employed as an Account Manager for Sheldon & Hammond in 1997. Eight years later I moved to Bambis Imports who were more fashion and interior focused. Later, I moved into interiors and furniture when an Account Manager position became available with Oswald Sealy/Meizai, one of Australia’s leading on trend importers of furniture and lifestyle homewares.
Tell us how you started up your company Room Agencies? Why?
I’ve always had a desire to work for myself and pursue other business opportunities. Starting Room Agencies enabled me to do this whilst working as a wholesale agent for various homeware importers. And how has the journey been so far? It’s been both challenging and rewarding. I have been constantly learning and exploring new opportunities, which in 2011 led me to America where I found Spicher and Company.
You recently attended the NY International Gift Fair, tell us about this? Paint a picture of what this trade show is like for those who have never been?
This was my second trip to the NY International Gift Fair. Both times I found it very exciting and also exhausting, as there are well over 2,000 exhibitors, with the same product categories as found in Australia but on a scale 20 times larger. An interesting factor this year with colour pallets was the use a lot of gold and blue, which are not key colourways in Australian homewares. Also, like the last few years in Australia there was a strong presence of vintage and industrial furniture and decor. It’s a hub of lots of great product and creative people.
It is here you discovered Spicher, give us a brief background on this company and what they specialise in?
I discovered Spicher earlier this year and began communicating with them before meeting them personally at the NYIGF in August.
You are now the exclusive distributers of Spicher in Australia, why did they stand out among the other American products?
We were drawn to Spicher because Kolene’s painting style has such a distinct and theatrical flavor and we loved how different and exciting it was! We were also attracted to the breadth of Spicher’s range, which aside from Kolene’s artwork also includes graphically designed art by Spicher’s ‘Design Loft’ – a very talented team of designers who create graphic based design elements which perfectly compliment Kolene’s artwork. We very quickly fell for the mood and essence of the Spicher style.
Why do you think their products will fit the Australian market?
Because it’s unique, it’s engaging and of a high quality. Spicher’s broad range will not only attract decorators and designers, but will also have a strong appeal with the retail and commercial markets.
You are going to exhibit Spicher at the upcoming Decoration+Design from 1-3 February 2012 at the Sydney Exhibition Centre – why did you choose this trade show to exhibit your range?
We chose Decoration+Design to launch Spicher in Australia because this fair attracts a broad range of market segments and potential clients most likely to identify with the Spicher brand - retail, commercial, specifiers, architects, decorators, designers, they’ll all be in attendance.
Is there any other company news you’d like to share?
Just the excitement surrounding the launch of our exclusive distributorship of Spicher and Company at Decoration+Design 2012!
See more of the Spicher and Company range at the Decoration + Design Blog HERE.