‘More drawn to what’s not in fashion than what is’: Gabrielle Davis reveals her unique design perspective

Welcome to Take 60, quick one-minute stories about new faces in our industry that can help you move the needle towards future success and time is up. Retailers, designers, manufacturers and more — Take 60 covers them all, so check back each week for a new addition to the mix.

Furniture Today caught up with Gabrielle Davis, designer at M2C Studio based in High Point.

FT: The furniture industry is deeply rooted in your family. Tell me why you also decided to enter the industry?

Gabrielle: I think this industry chose me as much as I chose it; I’ve never known anything different. As a third generation “legacy”, I grew up with everything revolving around the April and October furniture markets.

I was heavily influenced by my grandfather, James Stanton, and my mother, India Stanton Miller. Most people I know in this industry know or have worked with one or both. I’m constantly hearing stories or hearing someone express great admiration for my mom and grandpa, and it always makes me think, ‘Man, I hope I can have that kind of impact on people.’

As the saying goes, “do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. Design is what I love, and this industry is my home.

FT: You are currently working in M2C Studio. Talk about your position and what your role is for the company.

Gabrielle: M2C is one of three companies owned and managed by Stuart and Leyla Gans. It all started with their first company Classical Elements and from there they also launched a jewelry line and then M2C Studio producing custom lighting and drapery hardware.

My position here is really undefined and it gives me the ability to always be doing something different. While I’m very creative, I’m also very analytical, so I thrive in an environment that allows me to switch between my right and left brain. My role here allows me to do just that.

My “left-brain days” are spent with Stuart constantly navigating and improving our computer systems and production processes. Leyla keeps me on my toes on my “right brain days,” always sharing ideas and asking for my opinion. They entrusted me with many important responsibilities such as the website, product photography, customer interaction and order entry, social media content and even technical drawings for renovations to their home.

Stuart and Leyla are amazing people with a lot of talent and a really cool vision for their companies and how they can impact this industry and this city. I love being part of their team and I’m really excited to see what the future holds.

FT: What lighting trends are you currently seeing?

Gabrielle: I don’t think I have a good answer to that question, and here’s why: I’m more attracted to what’s not in fashion than what is. My style is a mirror image of my personality: weird, bold and adventurous. While there are many beautiful trends that come and go, some even aligning with my tastes, I don’t really pay much attention to them, especially working for a company that does the same.

In a world where so many try to stay “trendy”, M2C has its own specific niche in the market and really no desire to be “everything to everyone”. I think this is really cool. I’ve always danced to my own drum beat, and I like what I like, and I think it’s really important to stay true to who you are to create your own authentic style.

FT: What are three tips you can give other designers when it comes to merchandising?

Gabrielle: Piggybacking on my previous answer, my best advice would be to stick with what you love. Merchandising also has a lot to do with composition. Once you find a balance between that and your own style, everything else becomes natural.

FT: What are you excited to see/expect at the High Point Market this fall?

Gabrielle: I’ve never been involved in High Point Market in the traditional sense; I’ve always been more behind the scenes and I’ve never spent much time shopping at the market.

Starting around age 14, maybe even before that, I would be in the Lillian August/Hickory White showroom on the weekends and every day after school in the weeks leading up to the market. Even in college, I drove home from Charleston, SC, to help. I was there to do anything my mother asked and was able to learn so much experience and knowledge that I took and applied to my previous position at Caracole.

This will be my first market not working for a furniture company or doing showroom design/assembly. I’m excited to see what an M2C marketplace looks like – we showed it in the Verellen showroom – and meet many of the customers I’ve interacted with since I came on board in April.

Five facts about Gabrielle Davis:

  • What is your favorite furniture purchase to date for your personal home? I have a beautiful Lillian August four poster bed. It was a sample from several markets ago, and I loved it so much that I had to remove my bedroom door and box to put the thing in my bedroom. It’s a soft ivory color and has crisp, rigid lines in the headboard and footboard details, but a whimsical touch through the bamboo posts.
  • What is your favorite past? I love doing anything creative, shocking, but I also enjoy being on/near the water, listening to music or seeing live performances and anything family oriented. Since I bought my house a few years ago, I’m always doing projects around the house, moving things around, and working in my yard. I’m super close with my brothers and I love it when they include me in doing their boy stuff. I spend a lot of time with my moms and usually have my pointers, Walter and Duck, in tow. It’s the simple things in life that bring me the most joy.
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Believe it or not, High Point. I’ve never been much of a traveler and while I love my time in Charleston for school, home is home. My family is here, my career is here, and I’ll be content in a farmhouse on some land right here in Davidson County.
  • What is your only guilty pleasure? I love a good lazy day. There’s nothing more relaxing than curling up on the couch with my dogs and watching the latest Netflix series.
  • What is your favorite M2C Studio product? I really love them all, but I think our Dawn chandelier is my favorite. Each M2C light is much more than just a light fixture, but a work of art for your home, and every aspect is customizable. With so many options to choose from, our clients can create something truly unique for their project and space. You can’t really understand the true beauty of these light fixtures, especially one of our full-size Dawns, without seeing it in person.

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