Seattle Design Center lets the public browse its upscale showrooms

  • By Sarah Jackson, Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, January 23, 2008 10:35pm
  • Life

The Seattle Design Center isn’t usually open to the public.

Housed in a chi-chi, 390,000-square-foot complex among huge warehouses 10 minutes south of downtown Seattle, the gleaming assortment of upscale showrooms is usually open only to interior designers and their clients.

But on Feb. 2, anyone who is a fan of high-end furniture and accessories is invited to visit select showrooms selling their floor samples — items you won’t likely see anywhere else — at deeply discounted rates.

More than 700 people came to the annual sample sale last year, said Craig Cross, the design center’s marketing manager.

“People were lined up, wrapped round the building to get in,” Cross said of the morning crowd. “It was fun.”

Though the design center of about 50 showrooms is usually dark and closed on Saturdays, 15 showrooms will be open for the sample sale. Most will invite shoppers into their showrooms instead of piling their sale items in the hallways, flea-market style, as in past years.

There’s no $15 admission fee, just a requested donation to Northwest Harvest at the door.

Though the discounts are most definitely deep, as much as 50 percent off, don’t expect to find anything “cheap.”

These are designer pieces, typically high-end custom-made versions for designers and their clients.

At Ralph Hays Contemporary Designs, you’ll find a wooden, wave-front dresser, originally $7,250 reduced to $2,995. Nambe lamps, originally $623 to $498, will be $195 each for the sample sale.

Showroom managers, always looking ahead to new trends, take part in the sample sale to refresh their inventory as well as unload items from discontinued lines.

“Last year we sold 70 percent of what we had in the sale,” said Chelsea Gaz with Rosebank Design Showroom, where you’ll find a sample sale sectional, originally about $10,000 for sale for $4,980.

Shoppers will find plenty of furniture as well as art, accessories, fabric samples, rugs, lighting and high-end hardware too.

In fact, two of the design center’s newest residents, Fixture Universe and Lighting Universe, will also be taking part in the sale, offering a wide variety of dazzling floor samples, including vanity sets, bathtubs, chandeliers and sconces.

“It’s a chance to actually get into the showrooms,” Cross said. “In many cases, designers might actually refer their clients to come. This is a chance to explore.”

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Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

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