One weekend each October, design lovers from New York City and across the Hudson Valley load up rental cars or pile onto Metro-North trains and head for Kingston, New York. Their destination? A craft fair.
Field + Supply, the brainchild of Arkansas-born, Manhattan- based designer Brad Ford, has achieved cultlike status among elite decorators and local residents alike. Over the past five years, it has grown from Ford’s side project into a multiday design celebration that drew about 7,000 visitors in 2018. It’s become so successful that, this Memorial Day weekend, Ford mounted the first spring edition of the fair. It's also become a weekend destination for A-list celebrities: this past weekend's event saw the likes of Al Roker, Paul Rudd, Amanda Seyfried, and Natalie Portman strolling the tents alongside the sparkling Hudson River.
“I come from a small town, and craft fairs were always happening,” says Ford, who, despite several decades as a New York resident, still speaks with a discernible twang. “They were an opportunity to be out and about and engage with other creatives in the area.”
Field + Supply Spring: The 411
- What: A "modern makers fair" in upstate New York
- When: May 24, 25, 26
- Where: Hutton Brickyards, 200 North Street, Kingston, New York
- Why: An assortment of handmade furniture, accessories, ceramics, and more for sale; live music; workshops; food; a view of the Hudson River
That sense of community, coupled with Ford’s passion for championing the handmade—a mantle he has also taken up at his showroom, Fair, in Manhattan’s New York Design Center—is at the core of Field + Supply. With the event, Ford has tapped into a yearning for small-batch design and leisurely shopping that some feared was becoming lost in the era of Amazon. If anything, its growing crowds indicate just the opposite.
“I think it’s a reaction to everything that’s happening with e-commerce and big-box stores,” says Ford. “People want to find things that are meaningful, and they also want to be part of an experience, a community, which you lose when you’re sitting at home clicking a button.”
After all, says designer Sheila Bridges, a longtime attendee, “how many design events take place in historic structures, with the Hudson River as a backdrop?”
Field + Supply's Spring Fair Is a Plant Lover's Paradise.
The spring event will take over Hutton Brickyards, the sprawling river- side industrial outfit-turned-event space that has hosted the last two fairs, with a theme that further differentiates it from online shopping: gardening and the outdoors. “That time of year, everything is so lush,” says Ford, “and we want to make it feel different from the fall.”
With Gardenista as a partner, the spring Field + Supply will offer plenty for green thumbs—or those who just love being outdoors: displays of intricate botanical crafts by Hort and Pott; advice from naturalist Laura Silverman, founder of the Outside Institute; and Nudo’s colorful hammocks for lounging.
But the holistic approach will stay the same. Following the huge success of Field + Supply’s first iteration in 2014, Ford realized that “people were craving more of an experience,” so he kept adding on. At the most recent fair, in October of 2018, visitors could browse booths, nibble on food from local vendors, stop to play a game of cornhole, or cozy up to a firepit—all to the tune of live music. A steady stream of workshops, cocktail hours, and dinners (including one where all of the food was slow-roasted over an open flame) kept up momentum throughout the weekend.
Here's What You Can Expect to Find at the Fair:
Designers dish on their best Field + Supply finds.
- “A gorgeous waxed-walnut and woven-hickory chair by Fern.” —Grace Rosenstein
- “We met Ronni Nicole, an incredible floral artist, whom we later commissioned for a custom project.”—Will and Susan Brinson, House of Brinson
- “A round coffee table from Wyatt Speight Rhue that’s now in my office.”
- “I met an artist from San Francisco who I’m working with now to design a hand-carved hanging mobile for my upstate home.”
Yes, It's Open to the Public.
Broadening the fair’s offerings means broadening the audience, and that’s no coincidence. Ford has been adamant from the beginning that Field + Supply be accessible: It’s open to the public (tickets cost just $15), offerings inside run the gamut in price and style, and vendors hail from all over the country.
“I’ve always said that I want it to feel elevated but not exclusive,” Ford explains. “I try to make sure we have a nice cross section of products: an expensive table in one booth, local honey in the next. So everyone feels they can be a part of it.”
As a result, Field + Supply also serves as a sort of community organization, encouraging relationships between the locals, the visitors, and the designers. “My favorite thing, besides the location, is seeing so many vendors in person that I only knew through e-mail or Instagram,” says designer Lexi Tallisman, who has attended the fair since its first year.
Maybe it’s making those connections, maybe it’s the intoxicating feeling of shopping against the sparkling Hudson River, but as designer James Huniford—who has sourced everywhere from Paris to India—says, “there is nothing else like it.”
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