Guests turned out in fitting fashion on October 11 for Design Week Ja's midweek mixer at Furnitureland and Karmen's Kollection on 112 Constant Spring Road. Design Week 2023 is officially past the midway point in its events roster, and the conversation was flowing, along with the Rosé, at this latest affair.
It was the second Design Week event for the day, and after an afternoon of super savings at Home & Things, it was time for a masterclass in interior decorating from one of the most recognised and sought-after names in the industry, Angelie Martin-Spencer of Angelie Spencer Home (ASH). For her design conversation, titled 'Decorating for Apartment Living', Martin-Spencer focused on how to furnish and design smaller spaces and rentals such as Airbnbs.
First, guests were greeted by a sprawling open bar at the store's entrance. It was a cool October evening, and the selection of wines, cheeses and fruits was apropos. Furnitureland's diligent staff ensured that each guest was attended to.
Furnitureland Managing Director Carmen Brown was a winsome host, welcoming everyone and ensuring that the mood was set right from the start.
"It's been over 40 years now since we've been around, and for 19 of those years, we have been at this location. Over the years, we have put a lot of focus on delivering quality customer service, and it is one of the things we are known for. One thing you will always hear from our clients, who come from all over Jamaica, is that we give the best service," Brown said.
Guests then sat, gathered in charming vignettes curated by Martin-Spencer. The first floor of Furnitureland and Karmen's Collection had been transformed into a maze of pocket realities, each vignette designed to a tee around some specific aesthetic. Martin-Spencer walked guests through her process.
"If you're doing a new space, whether you're building or decorating, before you make any purchase, you have to think about how your space is serving you. Who is using the space? What is the space going to be used for? How is it going to serve you? And only then do you go shopping.
"You have to understand how the space is going to work, make a list of what you need, and then find pieces to perform those functions first. Of course, they have to be beautiful, but they also have to be functional and practical and work within the space. Also, measure, measure and then remeasure," she shared.
Furnitureland and Karmen's Collection provided the designer with a rich palette with which to work. The store is a veritable menagerie of exquisite finds. Martin-Spencer noted that pieces were being sold even while she was designing the vignettes.
Also present at the event to soak up some of Martin-Spencer's vast knowledge were students from the University of Technology Jamaica's Caribbean School of Architecture, and guests of Christine Gore from the Philip & Christine Gore Foundation. The foundation affords scholarship opportunities to the Caribbean School of Architecture.
The future designers, fourth-year student Ajala King, third-year student Nickaine Bent, and Kemoy Simpson, who is in her final year, all lauded Design Week Ja for the platform and shared that the experience was edifying in many ways, especially in providing practical references for what they have been exposed to in their studies.
This is Design Week's third collaboration with Furnitureland and Karmen's Kollection. The store was part of the first Design Week staging, and Brown expressed that she was happy to be part of the conversation once more and even happier to get to work with Martin-Spencer.
Scotiabank also joined the winning team up, delivering three from the first set of Scotiabank American Express (Amex) cards introduced to the island for a grand unveiling at the event. The recipients were Design Week conceptualiser and Jamaica Observer Editor, Lifestyle & Social Content Novia McDonald-Whyte, deputy managing director of the Jamaica Observer Natalie Chin, and founder of Locale, the concept store that hosted the launch of Design Week Ja 2023, Kerry-Ann Clarke. Each expressed their eagerness to start earning rewards on their Scotiabank Platinum Amex.
"People know the American Express brand for all the travel lounges, the dining benefits and membership rewards, so we are happy to be able to bring this to Jamaicans and the Caribbean. Through our partnership with the international American Express brand, Scotiabank has exclusive rights in the Caribbean," Scotiabank's Simone Hull told the gathering.
The most outstanding feature of the card, Hull pointed out, is that even as cardholders spend globally with the card and enjoy all the benefits that Amex is known for, they will still be able to pay in local currency.
"If you love to travel, dine out, love new experiences, love to explore, then this is the card for you," Hull added.
The practicality of the card tied in beautifully with Martin-Spencer's message of functionality.
"I always take my client's personality into consideration, and I speak with them about their personal tastes, but, ultimately, we want to find the right balance between aesthetics and functionality within the space," Martin-Spencer explained.
Guests were able to pick her brain at the event, and you can, too, through her Instagram page, @AngelieSpencerHome.
In the meantime, start with assessing your bedroom. As Martin-Spencer noted that the right design in that intimate space can be life-changing.