Three top trade shows

Commercial interior designers were spoilt for choice last month as the Dubai World Trade Centre played host to three trade shows that showed a growing commitment to the theory of design.

ANALYSIS, Design

Commercial interior designers were spoilt for choice last month as the Dubai World Trade Centre played host to three trade shows that showed a growing commitment to the theory of design. The shows displayed the very latest product launches available to designers for the office, retail and hotel industries as well as attracting a number of renowned speakers in the three market sectors for the impressive seminar programs running concurrently to each exhibition.

The Hotel Show

Covering three halls with more than 550 exhibitors from 40 different countries, The Hotel Show represented the burgeoning hotel market in the Middle East. The exhibition itself featured a wide range of products from flooring to outdoor furniture; technology to textiles and bedding.

An abundance of accessories and textiles in bold bright colours in luxurious fabrics was on display.

Skopos Interiors launched its range of bespoke leisure and contract furniture, available with a choice of fabrics, in association with Goodrich Global while Cassaro Fabrics launched its wide range of contemporary fabrics in vivid designs. Other notable products included the unusual designs of Acrilia which featured modern acrylic furniture fused with traditional designs in contemporary bright pink, blue and lime green.

Running alongside the Hotel Expo was the 7-star conference which included speakers such as Henry Wong, president, WGD Wong Gregersen Dabrus Architects and WGA Interior Designers who candidly spoke about 'Common Design Errors in Hotels'. Based on an online survey, Wong listed his top ten design errors as provided by hotel users. Common mistakes, Wong said, includes insufficient lighting and decor lacking personality. Integrated technology, he said was not only an essential aspect of hotel design but also represents the future.

Wong offered advice to the developing hotel industry in China, recommending designers not to use outdated concepts such as revolving restaurants simply as a novelty factor or status statement. He said: "Blind copying without understanding may defeat the original idea completely." Other speakers at the conference included Ted Horner, managing director, E Horner Associates on 'The Hotel Room of the Future'.

The Office Exhibition

The Office Exhibition demonstrated the importance of developing office design. High-end workstations, furniture that wouldn't look out of place in the home and ergonomically designed chairs are all indications that a stylish design is becoming top priority.

UK seating company Boss Design launched its range of striking new tub chairs in orange, red and pink while Designers Hub displayed its collection of coloured furniture as well as its latest desk system from Knoll. The WA is a complete office environment incorporating tables, screens, storage and meeting furniture designed by Piero Lissoni and Marc Krusnil. Joe MacIsaac, president, Knoll International said: "WA has been a huge success in Europe where the trend is to break up spaces with tables and chairs. While the trends in office design in Europe and the USA differ greatly, Asia is developing its own style which will reinterpret the two distinct trends."

Other integrated workstations launched at the show included the Allways by Haworth, which provided the subject matter for Marc Fong's speech, 'Sustainability: Design with the Future in Mind'. Glen Foster, marketing director, Haworth said: "The Office Exhibition demonstrated the tremendous energy and growing importance of the Middle East market."

The current trend for integrated furniture solutions was evident in the form of workstations and other occasional office furniture with the launch of Coffice, the intelligent all-in-one furniture solution from Bene. Other notable Bene products included the worktables and modular furniture from T-Platform.

Ergonomic office chairs dominated the show with the launch of bold new designs in a rainbow of colours developed for comfort. Winner of the Red Dot 2006, the Contessa ergonomic mesh chair, distributed locally by the Al Reyami Group was on display as was a range of Techna chairs from Permesa and the Rete operative chair from Forsit. Employee comfort seemed to dominate this arena.

In-Retail

The In-Retail show attracted a plethora of mannequin and retail storage exhibitors as well as a number of guests for the Innovations In-Retail seminars.

Speakers included Neil Tunbridge, head of GRMC Retail Services on 'The Future of the Middle Eastern Retail Market: Where are we heading?' and Christoph Hailbock, regional design director Middle East, UMBASCH on 'Store Branding - the creation of a perfect store concept'. Hailbock discussed the creation of the perfect store and offered advice to designers when developing a new store brand.

The product, he said, should be the star of the show, customer shopping habits should also be considered and a close relationship with the client is essential. He said: "The clients know more about their customers than a designer will ever know therefore it is important to work closely and also to listen to the opinions of those who work in the shop."

With a retail outlet updating on average every 5/7 years, Hailbock suggested it is easier to start a store concept from the beginning rather than a few years down the line. Hailbock also emphasised the 'less is more' approach when displaying products, stressing the importance of retaining the focus on the merchandise than creating a fussy background design.

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