My first overseas trip for 2017 to really get me into the new year is Domotex in Hanover, the worlds largest flooring show. I arrived two days before the show opened for meetings. Germany is so successful at trade shows, as part of his schedule as President of the United States, Barack Obama and his entourage came to see what is behind the continued success of German enterprise. He was met by current Prime Minister of Germany; Angela Merkel and together they toured the Industrial show adding an immediate additional excitement to the shows business buzz.
Yes its cold but Germany still attracts more attendees than any other country in Europe for target specific interior flooring products. It remains the largest flooring show in the world. I was there as a Judge of the shows carpet and creative awards; a Jury member and an official British representative for business in international trade for interior design and in that capacity I filled every minute of the time I was there to positive advantage in the way that only Brits can.
Brexit has been the discussion topic at many tables for months now; will it cause negative change, will it provide added risk or opportunity? will it cost us more to export? or worse will it affect our global and EU trading established benefits? Well the answer is probably yes and no to all the above! Its like life, its what you make it. I attended a dinner for journalists at Domotex and sat with an editor from Italy, Netherland, France, Turkey and USA. With such a geographical mix and all of us at the event for the design and quality of trade sales in the carpet, rug and flooring industry we obviously debated the woes and pros of the global political situation and like many at a dinner party, we put the world right. It was interesting to note how everyone asks me and about Brexit wherever I go (as I’m sure every Brit is asked) as if I might know the answer. My motto has always been out of everything bad comes something good and as a designer we are leaders of change.
It will be different and it will have casualties but we are living through a global change in politics and in how deals are done, how diplomacy is administered and how the people react if they are unhappy with the outcome. Social Media has come into its own.
Looking at the Pavilions promoting each great nation you can see the pride and appetite for export is no longer presented just by a few, the UK is now making its mark with Overseas Fairs picking up the stand design and selling individual company display space for exhibitors, facilitating introductions for exhibiting companies so that each exhibiting company can be represented by UK for added sales value and the stand was busier than general. Next year hopefully we will also host another British continent, New Zealand.
I think the change in UK when we exit the European Union but remain a member of Europe with what must be the same equal rights as all other European countries. Not being a member of the European Union, we will make our own decisions, our own deals and our own laws. This is an exciting time. It also means that other countries that watch us such as Germany and France who are part of the original six countries that created the EU laws will watch closely and learn. As they will themselves also be changing their Prime Minister at general elections in April this year we do not yet know who will rule these EU countries of influence and moreover, what their opinion and decisions will be. Of course add the hand-in-hand friendship that the UK has with USA which has been reinforced with rare warm words from Donald Trump, we only know that we all live in a time of global change.
I always believe that where there is change, there is opportunity and where there is opportunity there will always be investment and ideas people. I’m the latter. So I will be among the next group of business people looking for ways to take advantage of the opportunities that Brexit will inevitably provide rather than moaning about it.
As I headed back from Domotex I reflected on the excitement from the Carpet Design Awards and the pride each country placed in its pavilion and its longstanding tradition in carpet techniques, design and style and how that has converted into thousands of companies coming to the show year after year to network, place orders and showcase capabilities in search of new business. It’s all done in a much less demonstrative way to interior design shows but it’s big business indeed. As a member of the Jury I felt that as all eyes are always on the floor I needed a pair of statement shoes and so … I bought some!.
They worked – as I walked onto the British Pavilion Meeting Stand on Sunday the shoes received a greeting party from the UK team and I strut along as possibly the only person among the twelve exhibition halls representing 1,400 exhibitors from more than 60 nations in very high heels.
Some of the award entries were outstanding for a variety of reasons, the opportunities to trade in a global market are provided through this show for people from all walks of life and financial backgrounds. Many of whom use the show as their years sales platform and many more use it purely to purchase for retail and do all their business at the show. That ethical and financial opportunity for wealth, betterment and improvement is nurtured at Domotex and should not be dismissed, because this show is all embracing, truly providing opportunity for everyone from every nation and background.
Look at Rugstar here, this workmanship is so delicate its almost like embroidery it is a true design piece of flooring showcased at Domotex.
Regardless of your views or politics, the Domotex show is an exhibition of humanity, opportunity and nurture. The British carpet industry is in force finally with our brothers side by side and representing the most amazing technology, tradition and colour in carpets combined with design and sustainability. We are now aligned with the world’s best, the world’s oldest and yes, the world’s most successful.
I looked further at other exhibitors and found traditions, pride, young and old alike, importantly I found families working together something that is more prevalent in the carpet industry globally to many other industries.
As I head back to london after five days both pre-show and during the exhibition to catch up at my office, SBID and project updates I have just three days before I proceed to Maison Objet in Paris. They always produce a rabbit out of the hat for designers, it remains a show of inspiration where trends are launched and new products are showcased in a trade show of influence and dominance in the interior design sector.
I have four projects to source furniture and wall coverings for and I will start for two of my projects at Maison Objet. Then I follow up with my newly installed library. I have reinstalled my own library back to how I like it, it took a year to achieve but the system is now so easy for me to locate any and every product that each supplier provides so that I can compare by price, by availability and importantly by product. I’ve reduced the space to a single room instead of it spread across three rooms with everything scaled and referenced for my easy recall. I used to update my library twice a year and the cost to me for doing that as well as the cost to suppliers for providing samples was huge. I now make my library work for me instead of me working for my library and I have removed all products that were installed but never ordered or products that I would never specify as they were neither my taste nor of the quality I expect. I have also reverted back to my original rule of only seeing sales reps when I am sourcing the product rather than every time they may have a new product-launch. This saves all of us wasted time, cost in supplying filing and then binning samples. Its obscure. This new hi-tech efficient library has saved me an entire annual salary for a member of staff and frees up a much needed additional room in my office for other business. Finally I can source products I want for my projects this year.
As I prepare to head off to the Cote Azure for one of my projects in the months ahead I know exactly what style and scale I want to source. So this year, Maison&Objet will be a particularly fun trip with fruitful results backed up by an efficient library.
Settling into February I begin eight weeks of design work to achieve plans specifications and presentations for almost 30,000 square feet of residential elegance in three different locations. Of course I love my job, as someone said to me recently what other job pays you to dress your best go shop and create? Only in design!