PSFK Visits New York State's Field + Supply Makers Craft Fair
We check out the small design firms, chefs and caterers who gather from Hudson Valley and the Catskills to set up stall
Since 2014, the owners redeveloping a Victorian industrial complex on the River Hudson have been running each spring and autumn what must be one of New York State’s (and possibly the country’s) most chic design fairs.
At the Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, artisans, small design firms, chefs and caterers gather from Hudson Valley and the Catskills and set up stall to market to some of the more upmarket residents of mid-state New York—and the weekend visitors from New York City.
Field + Supply Spring MRKT describes itself as a modern interpretation of a traditional arts and crafts fair. The website claims that the market “consists of a carefully curated selection of makers highlighting goods, old and new, from a variety of studios and workshops representing a wide range of crafts.”
The market takes place under two roofed structures with open areas along an inlet of the River Hudson. There’s an extensive food hall area, a stylish band stand and a small children’s area.
What it does right
Creates a day out for families: Mixes a day spent shopping with the sense of a day in the park while still having access to your favorite food court.
Dogs. People like finding opportunities to walk their dogs. Lots of people own dogs.
Introductions: Helps spotlight some of the region’s most interesting craftspeople to visitors.
Presents a broad range of food stands that shows off local culinary skills across dining genre (versus local cuisine).
What it could do better
Price accessibility: Boy, those goods made by the hands of middle class, middle-aged, ex-New Yorkers are pricey. We love handmade—but does it have to be produced by folks with the highest salary expectations. We all want something special but it does seem like they're asking people to pay for another yuppie’s country-living dream.
Lack of shopping options. We didn’t see a lot of buying going on. A lot of furniture options— including heated outdoor concrete seating—meant that there weren't a lot of people carrying bags (in fact, we returned with our bags empty), so it lacked any feeling of being at a bazaar or busy market.
A world built for Instagram.
What was great was that Field + Supply was like every cool design blog brought to life, but what was bad was that it was like every cool design blog brought to life. At times it seemed that all products being sold there were wood or beige-colored ( or country blue) – check the exhibitor page.
Sometimes Field + Supply felt like a market to buy stuff to shoot for your instagram feed. Nothing challenged the viewer, shocked or forced a different opinion.
Entertainment. The planning was cheap and lazy. They hired one band who were great. But where were the side acts and performers to engage everyone at the event?
Exclusivity. The ‘Curation’ failed the Inclusivity Test: there were very few people of color. Wikipedia reports that there are 25% non-whites in New York State but we counted a handful persons of color on the day in the crowd and less behind the stalls. In fact, Kingston has high level of hispanics (15% of population) but they weren’t represented in the fair either.
For us, Field + Supply’s most critical failure was to ignore the local community, and focus on selling to an elite.
Field + Supply is an event that shows how to engage an affluent audience but is in danger of falling over getting stuck in cliche by poor curation and a lack of inclusion.
Check it out yourself from October 11-13. Professional Members can check out more photos in a special report.