Running concurrently with Top Drawer at London’s Earls Court from 13-15th January, the trade-only Home event will provide visiting retailers a plethora of design-led homewares. As the second edition nears, Furniture News editor Paul Farley puts 10 questions to Ian Rudge, business development director of organiser Clarion Events …

How did you come to be involved with Home again?

My time with UBM had come to a natural end with the completion of a project to identify the potential for a mid-year design event for the contract market. I have now returned to Clarion in order to continue the development of Home, a journey that began over 15 years ago when the idea of Home first came to me. 
At this time I was still busy with 100% Design, which, being focused on the design and contract market, didn’t allow for the development of a more retailer-focused show, which is what Home is.

When I met with Clarion many years later it became clear that we were thinking along the same lines, and with their support, and the co-location with Top Drawer, Home made perfect sense and quickly became a reality. The launch of Home was hugely successful, and the potential obvious – I really can’t imagine not being part of it.

What are the show’s unique qualities?

The fact that Home actually works. It is a simple proposition with a clear purpose – it’s in the right place at  the right time. Home is the only home and interiors event in London which is focused squarely on the needs of the retail market. It’s perfectly timed for retailers and businesses to source new launches right at the beginning of the year. The majority of our exhibitors are unique to Home, making Home the only place for UK buyers to see them, which is a pretty compelling reason to visit.

The Home mission is to deliver a genuinely design-led event and a truly diverse buying opportunity for retailers and anyone with a professional interest in homeware and interiors accessories. The brief to our show designers is to create a stimulating show and an appealing environment for our visitors to do business in.

The result is a beautiful show; an event that feels unique amongst the run-of-the-mill trade events that can often be attended somewhat under duress. Our location within the nation’s capital is an undeniable pull, as London is a leading global retail destination. Furthermore, its proximity to Paris means that many long-haul buyers now have the opportunity to make the trip to Home and then travel to Maison et Objet immediately afterwards – the perfect buying trip.

How was Clarion’s approach to the event different this time around?

More of the same – we are on a mission. The phenomenal response to the launch of Home means that the second edition is 45% bigger, with over 220 leading brands from the UK and overseas. Our approach has remained true to those values that were so integral to the success of the launch. Our philosophy is simple, our standards are high, and we care about design.

My team at Home seek out the best products from the most interesting exhibitors, and this year we’ve been further assisted by our heavyweight panel of supporters, who make up the formidable Home advisory panel. We’ve been working with some of the leading names in the homewares industry – John Lewis, mydeco, Lakeland, Steamer Trading and the most fantastic independent retailers including Pedlars, Folklore, Aria and Papylon.

Are there any particular newcomers you’d particularly like to highlight?

On the furniture side, we’re delighted to welcome Wayne Hemingway back to the world of trade shows after a 14-year hiatus – lucky Wayne! At the show, we’re constructing a pop-up pre-fab fitted out with Hemingway’s reinterpretations of iconic brands such as G Plan and Graham and Brown.

There’s also Another Country, a UK brand that believes in sustainable manufacture and timeless design, with some lovely furniture and accessories collections. And for this edition of Home, Ella Doran will be bringing a new collection of distinctive accessories including her collaborations with British rug retailer WovenGround. There’s also really great lighting companies at Home including Jielde, new collections from SCP, Seletti, Jiedle, Graypants LSA, 95% and Authentics.

To me, the show felt well edited, but there was also a sense of a lack of choice in some areas. Would you agree with this view?

Every show I have ever produced has been carefully edited and curated – it’s what buyers respond to. If we get that right, we save buyers a lot of time looking at irrelevant products, and you have much happier events. Our objective for the launch of Home was to invest in certain product sectors, with a view to expanding over the following years – from small acorns great oak trees grow!

And not every brand is brave enough to risk a new event. Luckily, with the support of our founder exhibitors everything went swimmingly, and we are now busy expanding the various sections which I consider key to demand. With support from our kitchenware panel, we have developed the kitchen and dining part of the show, and there’s more lighting and furniture coming for 2014 …

How will any changes to Home echo in Top Drawer?

Our philosophy applies equally to Top Drawer which will benefit strongly from the added design and investment that is going into Home. Top Drawer has also expanded this year to accommodate even more exhibitors. Cumulatively, the two shows host over 1000 leading brands, making London the UK’s most important destination for design-led buying this spring.

Can you comment on the rumours that Earls Court is to close, and, if it does, where would the show be likely to relocate?

We will certainly remain at Earls Court for the next few years, as proposed development of the site still looks to be a long way off. We do, of course, have alternatives planned.

Are there any areas you’re particularly looking forward to seeing at this year’s event?

This year at the show, you’ll discover our Very British Lounge in association with House & Garden Magazine. This will be a comfortable space for visitors to use during their visit – a place to meet, relax, gather thoughts and do business. This is an area where we’ll be celebrating products of British origin – those designed by our resurgent, established and up-and-coming brands and manufacturers.

Then there’s the Hemingway House, which is going to be a real draw this year, not least as it will be buyers’ first opportunity to see the new G-plan designs, G2. We’re also looking forward to Wayne’s keynote presentation, which will take place on Sunday 13th at 2pm.

Discovering, supporting and nurturing new talent has always mattered to me. The Home bursaries have been a really great addition to the show this year, and will highlight a new breed of entrepreneurial designers who are making products for the home that are both beautiful and commercially viable.

We’ve been doing some call-outs via our Home advisory panel and our Home blogger, and are now working with a shortlist of some really promising product ranges – all are new to the market and are not yet widely available for sale in the UK. The winners are being awarded a bursary in the shape of a free stand space within the Homegrown section of the show. 

What general feedback have you received this year?

The response to the inaugural show has been truly rewarding and we really have been overwhelmed by the positivity of feedback, with retailers likening Home to a more interesting UK version of Maison et Objet and declaring it “a design show to be proud of”.

Finally, can you comment on your work and duties with UBM?

My project with UBM was most enjoyable and now completed – it was great to work with Cathy and her team. My attention is now fully focused on developing Home and working with my colleagues at Clarion to create a significant UK homeware event for the UK that has the potential to be truly international. I mean, if we can produce a world-beating Olympics in London, a trade show shouldn’t be that taxing!