By Anthony Rayworth: Director of Studies at the National Design Academy and James Pilling: Interior Design Practice Manager, NDA Private Clients.
Held at the NEC, Interiors Birmingham is the largest trade interiors exhibition in Britain. We have been attending the show and monitoring changes to the industry for fourteen consecutive years. During this period we have developed valuable relationships with suppliers as well as observing and forecasting emerging trends within interior design.
As with last year’s exhibition; this year’s event was contained within five halls as opposed to the seven halls of years gone by and there have been contrasting opinions within the industry regarding this reduced size. Many manufacturers and suppliers feel that it has become a more manageable experience whilst a number of designers believe that the reduction is a reflection of an industry that is beginning to buckle under continuing global financial uncertainties.
The convenience of internet ‘discounters’, as they are being called, coupled with the economic pinch is creating a rapidly evolving and challenging marketplace. Suppliers have to think in increasingly flexible ways in order to retain visibility and remain competitive. It appears that the very top and bottom ends of the market remain buoyant whereas the middle market is beginning to contract.
Global economic repercussions aside, the overview of the exhibition is certainly not all negative; for those designers requiring inexpensive products for use in show homes and the like there are numerous suppliers offering a wealth of goods which are entirely appropriate for this purpose. Those companies operating in the higher end of this market will have found the exhibition brimming with excellent quality and visually interesting products.
Desk by Tortie Hoare in walnut and boiled leather is available in a limited edition of 30. From £2,450.00 www.tortiehoare.co.uk
This stimulating collection of environmentally responsible furniture updates the ancient technique of boiling, shaping and taming leather. She developed these techniques along with her skilful, accurate carpentry to gently rebel against the use of plastics and resins. The piece was exhibited in the Designers Block area which displayed visually interesting and conceptually stimulating work from a group of designers who, collectively, formed one of the highlights of the exhibition.
Continuing through the remaining areas, a number of staple, contemporary themes began to become apparent including:
Clearly acknowledging mass production processes with reduced elements and clean lines. This look incorporates finely engineered components with detailing which is both subtle and functional and. This is a style which, traditionally, is associated with the German, Danish, Swedish and Italian design industries.
Nordlux offer an excellent range of fresh, crisp, high quality and affordable lighting products for interior and exterior use. They are an innovative Danish supplier with a talented group of designers and is rapidly becoming a major player in the Scandinavian and international lighting market.
These are statement products intended to project an immediate impact. They are richly detailed with a strong aesthetic and unexpected combination of materials such as ethically sourced tropical hardwoods, expertly lacquered surfaces, exotic stamped leathers, highly polished metals and elaborate crystal. This look continues to reference the values of the dazzling Art Deco period and the golden age of Hollywood.
United Lighting www.unitedlights.net
The chandeliers in the magnificent ‘Gilver’ collection from United Lights are certainly conversation pieces.
This look uses distressed leathers, ‘aged’ velvets, intentionally mismatched tweeds, paisley and tartans, Union Jacks, deep buttoning, robust reproduction furniture, vintage trunks, country pursuits and traditional university sports and pastimes. A charming, romantic look that encapsulates an idealised, well-heeled Britain of years gone by.
Jack and Rose
Established in 2005 Jack and rose are the furniture trade supply division of Rowe Carpets Limited, founded in 1934. Their stand showcased several generously proportioned upholstery models with unusual, interesting and effective material combinations. Luxurious, affordable traditional craftsmanship with subtle contemporary updates; note the smart chrome castors and ruffled cushion edge.
Often referencing the sun bleached simplicity of rural France and Italy. Distressed, chalky painted, lime washed or scrubbed finishes add informal character to traditional furniture forms. Crisp linen, natural floor coverings, mini prints, delicate florals, ticking stripes and toiles soften the look whilst farmhouse earthenware and matt glazed ceramics add a convincing layer of rustic charm.
Neptune, a Wiltshire based company that offer a wide, cohesive range of well made, well priced, charming furniture items for throughout the home.
Understated palettes of Ivory, black, taupe, greige, bitter chocolate and grey sit calmly next to glossy dark woods, lacquered surfaces and bright chrome. Snappy accent hues such as flame orange, chartreuse, acid yellow and turquoise add freshness. This look works well when the refined palette is decorated with sculptural lighting items and internationally inspired accessories. This is a style brought successfully to the mass market by designers such as Kelly Hoppen who has recently developed a furniture collection for Halo and wall coverings for Graham and Brown.
Interiors Birmingham has become a more manageable experience which provides designers and suppliers with a valuable source of products and services and an overview of emerging or developing trends.
There are encouraging signs that the manufacturing industry which produces products for the interior is successfully adapting to face the demands of an uncertain economic climate and the increasingly sophisticated requirements of a design aware buying profession.
The NDA is a centre of excellence for interior design; NDA Private Clients is a multi award-winning commercial Interior Design practice affiliated to the NDA, please visit www.nda.ac.uk for information.