The Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, known as ADAC, serves as the premier resource for interior designers throughout the Southeast, presenting more than 60 showrooms in the iconic structure built more than 50 years ago by architect John Portman. ADAC is basically ground zero for both residential and commercial furnishings — fabric and furniture, wall and window coverings, lighting and fixtures, rugs and flooring, art and antiques, and everything in between. Simply put, if it’s part of a decorating or design project, it can be sourced at ADAC. So, how does a professional actually use ADAC? We were curious, so we asked two noted local designers, Clary Bosbyshell Froeba of Margaux Interiors Limited and Melanie Millner of The Design Atelier, to meet us there and walk us through their process.

Designers Clary Bosbyshell Froeba and Melanie Millner spent an afternoon with us at ADAC showing us how they use this incredible resource.

Designers Clary Bosbyshell Froeba and Melanie Millner spent an afternoon with us at ADAC showing us how they use this incredible resource.

How often do you visit ADAC?

Clary: I visit ADAC at least once a week, whether I am with my client, grabbing a fabric sample from a showroom, picking up lunch from the restaurant or attending a lecture. I have always loved ADAC. It’s like my second home, because I grew up going here with my mom (designer Margaret Bosbyshell), and some of the same people still work here today. I remember always thinking ADAC was so beautiful and exclusive. I would always pretend to be just like my mom and pull fabric samples.

Melanie: I visit ADAC several times a week.

Do you utilize ADAC for every design project?

Clary: Yes, I always try to use the unique designer fabrics, furniture, wallpaper or rugs from ADAC in my projects.

Melanie: Yes, I always shop at ADAC for fabrics and wallcoverings.

A tray full of No.9 Thompson fabric swatches at Jim Thompson showroom at ADAC.

A tray full of No.9 Thompson fabric swatches at the Jim Thompson showroom

Melanie Millner examines the texture of upholstery fabrics at the Jim Thompson showroom. at ADAC.

Melanie Millner examines the texture of upholstery fabrics at the Jim Thompson showroom.

Clary Bosbyshell Froeba pulled out one of her favorite Jim Thompson decorative patterns.

Clary pulls out one of her favorite Jim Thompson decorative patterns.

How many showrooms do you visit at ADAC? How do you plan your shopping strategy?

Clary: I use most of the fabric lines at ADAC, since each showroom carries different ones. As far as case goods go, I use a handful of showrooms. For example, when pulling oriental rugs, Moattar is my go-to, and for bound carpet, I use Designer Carpets and Stark. Honestly, my shopping strategy is that I usually start at the ground floor and work my way up, depending on what projects I’m working on.

Melanie: I consistently use five to 10 showrooms for my projects. I usually organize my shopping by selecting fabrics, rugs and furniture on separate trips. By doing this, I am able to focus on a particular product in ADAC, enabling me to choose the perfect line, product, color, textures, etc.

What do you bring with you when you set out for ADAC?

Clary: A huge bag with all my projects and plans so I can pull fabrics, rug tears, etc., from the various showrooms.

Melanie: I always bring inspiration from a client of what they like.

Schumacher showroom display brimming with inspiration.

Schumacher showroom display brimming with inspiration

Flipping through large-scale samples of Schumacher wallcoverings gives Clary Bosbyshell Froeba a better vision of what she might use in a project.

Flipping through large-scale samples of Schumacher wallcoverings gives Clary a better vision of what she might use in a project.

Melanie Millner sees more clearly the difference in tones and weights of various wovens by visiting the Schumacher showroom and evaluating them up close.

Melanie sees more clearly the difference in tones and weights of various wovens by visiting the Schumacher showroom and evaluating them up close.

With the wide range of resources at ADAC, which do you use most?

Clary: Textiles and wallcoverings

Melanie: Furniture, lighting, window coverings, textiles, accessories and tile

ADAC offers many educational programs, such as DESIGN, Discover ADAC and keynote speakers. Do you take advantage of those benefits as well?

Clary: I do try and take advantage of the market weeks (DESIGN & Discover ADAC) and learn from the incredible speakers who present. ADAC always features famous designers whom I admire, so it’s pretty inspirational to hear them in person.

Melanie: Yes, whenever my schedule permits.

Melanie Millner checks the finish detail and leaf assembly on a table at the Jim Pair showroom.

Melanie checks the finish detail and leaf assembly on a table at the Jerry Pair showroom.

Only way to determine the comfort of a sophisticated wingback is to take a seat. Melanie Millner does just that at the Jim Pair showroom in ADAC.

The only way to determine the comfort of a sophisticated wingback is to take a seat.

At theGrizzel & Mann showroomin ADAC, Melanie Millner spreads out rug samples on a floor similar to that of the project she's developing.

At the Grizzel & Mann showroom, Melanie spreads out rug samples on a floor similar to that of the project she’s developing.

Historically, ADAC has been only a trade resource, but has recently opened to the public consumer. As a designer, how has this been helpful for you and has it changed how you use ADAC?

Clary: With ADAC now open to the public, I think it helps consumers see how much beautiful product is available to them and recognize that they will get the best results by enlisting the help of a designer. ADAC continues to be a strong resource for me throughout all of my projects.

Melanie: This has been helpful for my clients and has allowed them to visit showrooms at their convenience, rather than waiting to schedule time with me. I usually have items preselected and call the showrooms in advance so they are taken care of when I am not able to meet them.

Spreading out the product binders in the Grizzel & Mann showroom, Melanie Millner can visualize a piece and then look at samples on site to make a decision.

Spreading out the product binders in the Grizzel & Mann showroom, Melanie can visualize a piece and then look at samples on-site to make a decision.

The Holland & Company showroom at ADAC receives regular visits from Clary Bosbyshell Froeba as she selects furniture and accessories for various projects.

The Holland & Company showroom receives regular visits from Clary as she selects furniture and accessories for various projects.

ADAC also offers referrals to designers for clients that may not already be connected with one. How does using a designer further enhance the design experience at ADAC?

Clary: USING A DESIGNER IS EVERYTHING! A designer helps to achieve the overall look and feel a client wants by using our knowledge and experience. We know the center, what showrooms carry which lines, type of fabrics or wallcovering, case goods, floor coverings, etc.

Melanie: ADAC can be overwhelming with the amount of quality resources available, so using a designer helps narrow the selections in order to pull the necessary items together for the client.

Clary told us she remembers climbing all over the Moattar showroom as a kid when accompanying her mother, designer Margaret Bosbyshell, on ADAC shopping trips.

Clary told us she remembers climbing all over the Moattar showroom as a kid when accompanying her mother, designer Margaret Bosbyshell, on ADAC shopping trips.

Clary flips through huge stacks of rugs at Moattar, Ltd., searching for right fit for her design aesthetic.

Clary flips through huge stacks of rugs at Moattar, Ltd., searching for right fit for her design aesthetic.

Melanie, you’ve chosen to have office space in the design studios, presenting new opportunities and altering the way you do business. Tell us more about what you expect to gain from this move.

Melanie: Relocating to the design studios will enrich our resource base and give us immediate accessibility to the showrooms. Not only will we save time on travel, but we hope to utilize the showrooms more for meetings with our clients in order to help them visualize the level of design we are after with all of our projects.

Ladies, thanks for the insight into your design process, as well as the navigational acuity familiarizing us with ADAC. There are so many layers to each project, yet this invaluable resource opens up every possibility.

And thanks to Catrina Maxwell of Cat Max Photography for the gorgeous pics!
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Interested in learning more about the resources at ADAC and the Atlanta design community? Register for one of the many programs and events offered throughout the year. Our own Liza Graves, co-founder of StyleBlueprint, will be speaking at ADAC’s Digital Day next week. See below for details.
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