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La Difference Founder Thornton to Keynote Pinnacle Awards Gala

Andy Thornton, the design-savvy founder of contemporary furniture powerhouse La Difference in Richmond, Va., will be keynote speaker at this year's Pinnacle Awards Banquet during the High Point Market.

Thornton's address, "Happiness by Design," will take place Monday, Oct. 16.

“The American Society of Furniture Designers was created more than two decades ago to advocate for outstanding design and the designers whose creativity drives the home furnishings industry’s engine,” said John Conrad, ASFD executive director. “In light of our goal to elevate the role of design in the home furnishings industry, we could not think of a more timely and relevant speaker than Andy Thornton.”

After spending many years as an independent furniture designer, art exporter and world traveler, Thornton returned to Virginia in 1980 and founded La Difference,

which now claims to have the East Coast's largest selection of contemporary and modern furniture.

Honored with multiple awards, including the ARTS Award for Best Accessories by a Furniture Store, he served as president of the three-story showroom in downtown Richmond until last year, when he relinquished the role to his wife, Sarah Paxton.

“Andy’s passion for great design and business sense are legendary in this industry, and he couples his insight with a wonderful sense of humor,” Conrad said. “I urge everyone to purchase their tickets for this event as soon as possible, because his not-to-be-missed presentation will be the talk of the Market and we expect a sell-out crowd.”

Ticket information can be found at

Now in its 22nd year, the Pinnacle Awards honor design excellence across the home furnishings industry, showcasing products introduced each year in 17 categories, ranging from accessories to upholstery.

Winnowed down to 64 finalists, products are judged by a jury of 12 well-known industry professionals on a variety of criteria, including innovation, form and function, retailer and manufacturer benefit, and consumer benefit. Winners are kept a secret until the banquet ceremony.

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