Houston’s International Interior Design Association chapter recently presented $34,720.57 to Houston Furniture Bank, hard-won money raised at the “Product Runway” fundraiser, Houston’s premier Avante-Garde fashion show, now in its twelfth year. The check presentation occurred at this year’s kickoff event, where Houston’s top design firms team up for an extreme design challenge. Since 2009, Product Runway has raised over $200,000 for the cause of providing furniture assistance to families in the Greater Houston Area. The most recent event marks the largest gift to date. Said Oli Mohammed, Executive Director of Houston Furniture Bank, “This sustained support from IIDA has allowed Houston Furniture Bank to grow into the organization that we are today. We are so grateful for their support!”

IIDA is a Commercial Interior Design association with global reach, providing support for design professionals, industry affiliates, educators, students, firms, and their clients through a network of 15,000+ members across 58 countries. Since 2002, they have provided support to Houston Furniture Bank, supporting their mission of Making Empty Houses Homes through fundraisers, volunteerism and in-kind donations as well as taking an advisory role as the Houston Furniture Bank has grown to meet the need in the Houston community.

Product Runway itself is a memorable affair, complete with avant-garde fashion and over-the-top presentations and attended by a well-heeled group of hardworking design professionals from Houston’s premier design firms who live by the motto “work hard, play hard.” Last year’s top honor went to the Gensler Firm’s Houston office who swept “Best in Show, Best Red Carpet Look and Most Philanthropic.” The design team presented a chic, ready-to-wear look that included hundreds of payettes created from materials originally intended for the commercial design industry.

This year Houston Furniture Bank will continue their increased level of participation, begun last year, as a “garment label provider.” The looks created for the runway are fashioned from materials obtained from the vendors who cater to Houston’s design industry.  Last year, Houston Furniture Bank was paired with Curve Hospitality. Curve’s design team was challenged to create a look inspired by Houston landmark, Wells Fargo Plaza, exclusively using materials obtained from three vendors; a “hard good” from Abet Laminate a “soft good” from CRG and a “wild card” from Houston Furniture Bank. A team of five designers from Curve fashioned a show-stopping dress that made creative use of mirrors from the Houston Furniture Bank’s Furniture Outlet as well as mesh recovered from the Mattress Recycling Center. With sparkling mirrors and a dramatic, mid-runway transformation, the look was met with enthusiastic cheers as it lit up the 150-foot runway at Revention Center.

Product Runway 2020 promises to be better than ever. This year’s theme is “Detail in Design,” celebrating the evolution of interior design over time. Teams were assigned a period of design as their jumping-off point. This year, Houston Furniture Bank is paired with a team from PBK. The team will make a garment inspired by the “Eclectic” design style that makes use of materials from Houston Furniture Bank, Janus Et Cie and Via Seating. Houston Furniture Bank is excited to collaborate with PBK, a company focused on providing services to schools.

Product Runway connects IIDA’s members with opportunities to give back through service. Next month, the group will bring 50 volunteers to the Houston Furniture Bank where volunteers will help build furniture for families in need, purchasing the materials to construct much-needed items with funds they raised themselves.

Houston Furniture Bank’s mission is to furnish hope by Making Empty Houses Homes. With the support of industry partners like IIDA and the Houston community, they work with over 45 social service partner agencies to provide essential furniture to families in need. For 26 years, Houston Furniture Bank has been serving families affected by poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, mental and physical health concerns, and disasters, serving over 2,000 families in 2019. Following Hurricane Harvey, Houston Furniture Bank has provided furniture assistance to over 3,500 families affected by the storm. Also in 2019, Houston Furniture Bank launched its “No Kids on the Floor” initiative, working to ensure that no child goes without the rest that is essential to growth and learning by providing bedding to children in need. Thanks to the sustained support of IIDA, Houston Furniture Bank has been able to expand its services to meet the need of Houston-area families.

Photography by Andy Phan