From Home Furnishing Business
Take 5: Michael Amini
Michael Amini, CEO of full-line producer Aico, took over as president of the
American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame board of directors earlier this year. During his short tenure at the helm, he has led the institution on a mission to broaden its reach and boost its industry cachet.
Here, he discusses upcoming changes to the Hall of Fame induction banquet set for Oct. 18 and other plans for the group.
Home Furnishings Business: Earlier this year, the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame underwent an extensive rebranding initiative. Why the change?
Michael Amini: In January, we changed our name to the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation to underscore our scope of work and the inclusion of all segments of the home furnishings industry.
Previously, it was the Furniture Hall of Fame. But we all know, no matter if you have a mansion, small home or big home, by having just furniture without wall art, rugs, accessories or lighting, the house won’t look like a home. Therefore, we can’t do everything based on furniture. We need to bring everybody together in the industry, and I’m very happy that we have achieved that.
HFB: What reaction have you gotten to the changes so far?
Amini: Very positive. The Hall of Fame is undergoing a significant transformation and we will continue to change the industry’s perception of the organization with the extraordinary event coming up Oct. 18. We are hoping for unconditional support of the entire industry.
Unless we all come together and support the industry as a whole with the most prestigious event and organization, it will be a pity because every industry that I have looked into has a hall of fame. As the furniture industry, which happens to be the second largest purchase in anyone’s life, we have to have one organization that brings everyone together.
The change is not just the name. It’s in every aspect of the operation—the way we have been doing things, the way we have conducted our business, the way we have celebrated and the way we have announced things—it all has changed.
HFB: How will the October gala be different than in years past?
Amini: This will be a whole new experience that will be attended by a blue ribbon guest list. The gala will be held at the Grander Resort, and celebrated as never before with an inspirational and entertaining program. For the first time, we will include entertainment, the very talented Morgan James. Award-winning actress Jane Seymour will host the event. It’s going to be an extraordinary event never seen before.
We will induct five industry leaders into the Hall of Fame and showcase each inductee’s innovation in the industry with a live video format. The atmosphere will be set by a liquid laser light show coordinated to music, a red carpet entrance and sound. This is sure to be at the top of the list as High Point Market’s most memorable evening.
We are raising the bar, and I want to personally invite everyone in the industry to join and support the organization. The Hall of Fame belongs to all of us. We all love the industry otherwise we wouldn’t be in it. Without the cumulative support of the entire home furnishings industry, we will not succeed.
No matter what we do, what magic we put on, we need the support financially—as a membership, as a sponsorship, as a thought process and thinking of new ways of bringing people together— whatever people can do to help and support. That’s what we need.
It’s very easy to get involved. People can go online, sign up and become a member. Participate in the gala to ensure the celebration is the most memorable celebration of the industry.
HFB: What other changes can we expect to see as the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame continues to evolve?
Amini: These changes positively support our mission of celebrating the power of our past, while fueling excitement for the future. We are still building on our core initiatives with our oral history program, writing the history of the industry, video interviews with our inducted members, the “Tell Us Your Story” program and updating the Walk of Fame.
We’re also in the initial planning stages for a leadership program for current and future leaders.
HFB: The oral histories are a great way to record the industry’s past. How can people get involved?
Amini: Our oral history and book publishing programs forever capture the personal stories and culture of the furniture industry. Published as a book and available by topic on the web site, these rich little gems share the memories and wisdom of our leaders in their own words and through historic photography. We are always accepting recommendations for industry leaders whose stories need to be captured and encourage people to contact the Hall of Fame to set up an interview to ensure history is not lost.
What is an industry without a history?A lot of us are interested in the history. I love to go to countries and look at their museums and palaces. It gives you a sense of energy to look at what our predecessors have done, what they have gone through, especially for such a young country.
We need to capture this history. My vision is the Hall of Fame needs to have a building in High Point right along Main Street with over 100 years of history of furniture that people can walk in. They can talk to people to find what they want to find out about a certain style of furniture, about people who have been innovative in that particular segment, and to see who has been inducted in the past and why they have been inducted.
We need a physical place that people can walk into rather than the Hall of Fame just being a dinner. For that, we need money. We need the support to purchase a building, to hire people that can capture the history and publish books, for us to be able to do oral interviews with people, and for us to capture what is necessary to make the Hall of Fame organization a place that people can go for answers.
That is my vision and unfortunately it’s not going to be done in one year. But I’m hoping our leaders who are in line to become presidents and to become supporters to lead this organization to a point where this particular vision becomes a reality.
We have had wonderful people on the board. We have also had great people on the executive committee who are supportive. Without their support, we couldn’t have accomplished all that we have over the last few months.