A week of design events in brief
As the newest member of the Strata Tiles team, I felt some research into popular design events was required to better understand what customers and visitors alike look for when attending such occasions. With this in mind, I spent my Tuesday visiting two of the largest architecture and design events of the spring: Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) and May Design Series (MDS). Although I’ve visited large trade shows previously and knew the ‘ropes’ so to speak, both CDW and MDS were new territory to me and therefore I wasn’t quite too sure what to expect. Two words: ‘Design’ and ‘Paradise’. May Design Series 2014 This year saw MDS 2014 take place at the ExCel Exhibition Centre in London. An array of exhibitors over a number of design sectors attended, from furniture to kitchen and bathroom, lighting to décor, and even a DX section to showcase the most innovative pieces with the newest materials and latest technologies.
My Verdict: The venue layout was per sector which made for a fantastic browsing setting when comparing designs and styles. A variety of different designs and products provided ‘food for thought’ regarding past, current and future trends; the event itself was great to inspire inspiration for architects and interior designers alike. There was also scope for suppliers to showcase their products to potential retailers, with the event lending itself to both a business to business and business to consumer environment. I particularly liked the conversational series, a variety of 45 minutes talks from industry moguls throughout the day which added an element of expertise and learning into the day (not just browsing, and mentally tallying up my ‘wishlist’ bill). Everyone was extremely helpful and if you were lucky you could find the odd chocolate bar or free shopper on a few of the stands (bonus)! The only downside for me was the array of restaurants within ExCel. In my eyes the selection was pretty poor and extremely overpriced, deterring me staying for the whole day and enjoying more of the conversational series had to offer. However this was a reflection on the venue and not MDS as a whole. Clerkenwell Design Week 2014 This year saw CDW celebrate its fifth year running in EC1, Clerkenwell; the home of the design community. Over 60 showrooms were involved in the event as well as 200 design brands on display via pop-up shops and trade stands. My Verdict: CDW allowed you to wonder in and around the streets of Clerkenwell to discover an array of stores, showrooms, studios and pop-up shops on offer. It was great to see many organisations within their own environment allowing you access to a wider range of material on offer. Jaguar was also the headline sponsor which meant some pretty high quality cars were out in force (if I say so myself). Despite CDW providing a map and itinerary, sometimes it was easy to get a little bit lost and end up going round in circles (especially if you are not familiar with the area) but the endless showrooms and exhibitions that could be found in hidden cobbled streets made the wandering worthwhile. There were also some fantastic places to eat or even just have a coffee and a cake (bonus: most places provided a discount for all those wearing a CDW logo); despite this many showrooms had an array of cakes, sweets and drinks on offer and therefore hunger was never an issue at CDW. ‘Conversations at Clerkenwell’ ran on a similar format to MDS’ ‘Conversation Series’ but required visitors to book in advance before arriving. This was slightly frustrating when making snap decision about visiting specific talks but did not ruin the overall experience for me. Although no criticisms as such, I was blessed with a dry, warm day to wander to streets of EC1; I can imagine that my CDW experience may have been slightly different If the heavens had opened, due to little shelter (apart from inside showrooms and exhibitions) being on offer. Conclusions Where CDW allowed many organisations situated within the town to showcase their products within the familiar setting of their showrooms, MDS sort to bring these organisations out of their normal trading environment into one large venue for the masses to explore. Despite their different set-ups, both events are a great platform for designs and suppliers alike to showcase their designs and products in a targeted environment. I also learnt food and ‘free gifts’ are the way to every visitor’s heart and can be extremely useful when getting the afternoon munchies! On a personal note, I would strongly suggest visiting both with a colleague or a friend; travelling in a pair or more can motivate you to explore every aspect of the events without being deterred by copious amounts of walking (which there is a lot of) to ensure you don’t miss anything on display! The views expressed and photos shown within this blog are my own and do not reflect those views of Strata Tiles or their clients.