Interiors UK shone in the face of economic gloom with inspiring spaces and cutting-edge design, as SREE BHAT reports
British heritage stood out as a myriad themes and products filled the halls of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham recently, as Interiors UK celebrated a successful 2012 edition.
Held from January 22 to 25, the event offered the sector’s leading players as well as upcoming firms that are seeking to establish themselves in the tough market an ideal opportunity at business networking.
Built for the bard: Vintage
furniture specialist Frank Hudson
showcased its collections on
an Orient Express themed stand,
including a ‘Shakespeare bed’.
The show which covered the entire gamut of the interiors market, provided separate spaces for some of the sub-sectors, giving an individual identity to each area. These areas included Fabric, Modern Elegance, Décor, Living Lifestyle, Contemporary Design, Flooring and Lighting.
Despite the winter’s chill and recession-inspired gloom all over the region, Interiors UK was a spectacle of warmth as it opened up a world of designs and colours. Entrances of all the halls, sporting different colours and designs, invited the visitor to witness the multitude of products on offer.
“We made some key investments into the show for 2012, delivering more content than before in terms of the designers we involved in the show and enhancing the visitor experience so that each person felt part of the event as soon as they walked through the door, improving confidence in the market and providing more positive surroundings to do business in,” said Sam Fisher of UBM, the organizer of the event.
“It was great to see that, even in tough economic times, business was there to be done. This was a truly commercial event and companies had invested a lot themselves to ensure their stands looked welcoming. We also ensured that we put on a great seminar programme, offering advice and discussing topical issues that retailers and designers are facing at the moment,” she says.
Creativity, style and innovation were evident as one strolled through the vast halls of the exhibition centre. Modern furniture designs, latest technology in beds and mattresses, environment-friendly lighting and intricately designed chandeliers , new flooring products, vibrant and exotic fabrics and eye-catching pieces of decorative items and arts drew the attention of the visitor.
Top brands such as Ercol, Lloyd Loom of Spalding, India Jane and G-Plan showed their newest wares alongside first-time exhibitors and smaller firms. Buyers from Debenhams, DFS, Dreams, Dulux Design, Feather & Black, Furniture Village, Harrods, Heals, Home Retail Group, House of Fraser, Ikea, John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Marks and Spencer, Next, Osborne & Little, Sainsburys, Selfridges, Tesco and The White Company were also present.
A highlight of the exhibition was the Designersblock Design Village, which turned out to be a hub of activity and creativity. Comprising a bar, market stalls, a seminar theatre and VIP and media lounges within the exhibition hall, the area was filled with cutting-edge lighting, stylish furniture and interesting features at every turn.
Rory Dodd, co-founder of Designersblock, said: “This whole project has been a really beautiful, collaborative experience. As we all hoped, this area became a real hub – a meeting point, where visitors and exhibitors could gather together, have a drink and enjoy some great design at the same time.”
Three individual rooms designed by Donna Wilson, who was named Designer of the Year 2010 at the British Design Awards; Morag Myerscough and The House of Hackney team particularly attracted crowds for their sheer design boldness and imagery.
The show also offered highly-rated and engaging seminars relevant to the industry from top-rated speakers. Global Colour Research trend expert Hannah Malein revealed top colour trends for 2012 and offered advice as to how to apply those trends to branding.
PUT ON A SHOW
Several ‘Signature Spaces’ gave the designers a chance to showcase their talent to the thousands of visitors to the show.
Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, inspired by the faded grandeur of British stately homes, created two stunning room sets – ‘His Lordship’s Lair’ and ‘My Lady’s Chamber’; leading textile artist Ptolemy Mann designed a stunning range of glossy ikat fabrics for the canopy and upholstered furniture in the Fabric Pavilion; the Lighting pavilion sported a glittering chandelier designed by Portuguese designers Serip at the centre.
The organisers added a new Contract Trail to the show, to entice commercial specifiers to view and source products.
Many exhibitors certainly went the extra mile this year. While they brought in new merchandise and launched many innovative products, they also made sure that their stands portrayed their creativity and their standing in the market. For example, Frank Hudson’s stand was laid out like an old-fashioned train.
About 550 companies showcased their products and services at the show, which drew 25,000 visitors.
While the expo seemed targeted at the local market, about 20 per cent of the exhibitors were international, from 23 different countries including from Europe, the US, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
“We are always looking to increase our international exhibitor base, offering our visitor audience an insight into the variety that global design brings to the industry,” said Fisher.
Stately setting: Bowen’s Lady’s
While some exhibitors have made forays into the Middle East, having exported to individual customers, most said they were keen to explore the market.
Following the success of the Interiors UK Birmingham, the organisers have decided to expand the show with a boutique edition in London next year.
Interiors UK London will provide the mid- to high-end contract and design-led retail sector with an edited version of the long-established show. The event is set to showcase the cream of British and international design, a must-see for style connoisseurs seeking the latest launches, unique designs and cutting-edge products, said Interiors UK brand director Tony Crinion.
“As a leading global design capital, we felt London was the ideal location for a boutique version of Interiors UK. With hand-picked, up-and-coming exhibitors who are shaping the future of the design industry, the show is set to make its mark on the interiors calendar in 2013 and beyond,” he said.
The show will take place from May 19 to 21, 2013 at ExCeL London.