more than one-quarter. And much of that trade is
enabled by migration: crossing borders to live and
work, which enables designers to source a variety
of goods from around the world while also empowering citizens to create a better life for themselves.
What’s more, migration allows us to keep artisanal
crafts (like hand-weaving rugs) alive.
“Businesses exist to solve a client’s problems,”
Tiwari says. “And that usually means you’ll be buying
from all over the world. It has to be ethically made
and brought here. Those are the basics. But I want
to give the best ideas to my customers, especially
the designers. My job is to get them the best product, or the best value.” Surya still relies on artisans
in India to create the company’s hand-woven rugs.
But, in order to satisfy customers placing empha-
sis on price and quick availability, Tiwari adds, “We
are also buying broadloom locally and cutting to
size to a customer’s need. If you need a large rug
tomorrow, I can do it here. I’m not doing it because
‘Made in America’ is a marketing gig. I’m doing it
because sometimes customers want it yesterday.
Sometimes, quality is the factor; and sometimes,
time is the factor.
“The whole world as we know it today is the way
it is because of trading and commerce and searching out things around the world. It isn’t a spy game.
It’s, ‘Let’s go to another country and learn it and replicate it.’ I think that will continue,” notes Tiwari.
For Brooklyn interior designer Kathryn Scott, ASID,
creative enrichment came not from importing
products or ideas to the American market, but ven-
turing far from home. After marrying Chinese artist
Gu Wenda in 1999, the couple decided to purchase
and restore a circa-1906 house in Shanghai, which
ultimately led Scott to establish her own business,
Kathryn Scott Design Studio. At first, she recalls,
there was a cultural-economic disconnect. In the
early 2000s, China was still transitioning to a largely
free-market economy, and there was an emphasis on
value over quality. “I remember being asked, ‘How
could you spend that much money on ironwork?
We could do hollow metal instead of solid metal.’
I insisted on my way because, as far as I was concerned, I was protecting the value of the property, and
costs and labor were still really cheap,” she recalls.
“Honestly, I could afford to do things I couldn’t afford
to do here in the U.S. I had the ability to express my
design vision in a way I don’t often get to here. We
were able to enclose a veranda with bronze custom
glass doors, and custom bronze railings with floral
figures cast into bronze and integrated into this pattern.” Soon after completion, a large Chinese wine
distributor rented out the entire home for a wine bar.
It allowed Scott to establish herself as an American
interior designer in China, and she has since gone
on to establish a line of Chinese-influenced porcelain and dinnerware as well.