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Selling furniture should be like selling happiness, Bobby Berk says

Sophie Donelson, Bobby Berk

People recharge their phones every night to prepare for the next day. Their homes should serve the same purpose for them, Bobby Berk told an audience at the High Point Market. 

What if there’s no power there? 

“If you’re depressed and you wake up in a disaster of a room every day, you feel defeated already,” the designer and star of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” said. 

A.R.T. Furniture launched Berk’s new collection in the just-opened Markor Arts Center with rooftop “Skybar and Terrace” parties, book-signings and other events. But the Reality TV personality was down-to-earth in a conversation with moderator Sophie Donelson for High Point Market’s Keynote Series program. His advice should encourage furniture retailers to believe they can do a lot more than sell durable goods. 

“When it comes to home, we’re not designers, we’re therapists,” Berk said. 

Berk allowed that “here in High Point, you want people to buy furniture,” but he insisted the business isn’t just about money. “We have the tools to effect change in people’s lives,” he said. “It’s about making your home a place that sparks joy.” 

Berk didn’t have a happy childhood growing up in a conservative family in Missouri. He left home at 15, worked odd jobs, experienced homelessness and later found success in the retail trade. 

“If your home is in chaos, your life is in chaos because everything starts at home,” he said. “Don’t get a therapist, just fix your home.” 

That doesn’t have to mean with trendy, designer furnishings. People should find furniture that makes them happy – and healthy. 

“Everything else in the world is stressful. … You should get home and not be stressed,” Berk said. 

Donelson, former editor in chief of House Beautiful, noted that home furnishings fall low on the list of consumer priorities and faulted the industry for failing to make emotional connections between their products and happy home lives. Berk agreed. 

“At the end of the day, we want to sell stuff,” he said. “But we also want to make people happy.” 

Berk designed furniture to be simple and accessible, he said. The A.R.T. showroom presentation emphasized the homey, comfortable look with touches like a nightstand adorned with a pair of glasses set on an open book, as if a parent just stepped out to check on a child in the next bedroom. 

Berk said he didn’t have the upper class in mind but people who want affordable furniture that makes them feel good about their homes – or for the person who says, “I worked my ass off for this home and I want it to spark joy!”