The business of sourcing from exhibitions seems to be losing little of its thrust in modern times – in fact, the event calendar is more densely populated than ever, especially in the months of January and September, making the work of the conscientious furniture buyer increasingly difficult. In an effort to help to some degree, Paul Farley presents a comprehensive summary of the UK exhibitions set to run throughout 2014 …
The first article I wrote in 2013 was one entitled A Guide to the UK Furniture Exhibition Circuit, a rundown of the key furniture and furnishings trade events in the UK for that year. The article proved so popular that I decided to repeat the exercise for 2014, and provide a digest of the UK show circuit in one place.
The year kicks off in the capital, as Home returns to Earls Court 2 from 12-14th January, alongside Top Drawer and the new Craft designer-maker show. Visitors will find a tastefully curated selection of designer homewares, with a focus on classic British creations.
Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Solihull, just a stone’s throw from the Birmingham NEC, opens to members of the AIS buying group for the first of two annual private events, from 17-18th January, before accommodating the wider trade from 19th-21st at The Furniture Show. Whilst small, the event features the sort of high quality exhibitors one might expect from AIS’ preferred supplier portfolio, including a number of companies that have scaled down their exhibition presence since leaving the NEC’s furniture show.
Interiors UK – widely known amongst the trade as ‘the furniture show’ – remains the UK’s biggest and best-attended event for the furniture industry. Taking place between 19th-22nd January, the 2014 (and final) edition of Interiors UK will feature a new bespoke crafts area, Designer Makers, feature areas for new designers with Designersblock, and the Lighting Show – in addition to a strong seminar programme, New Design Britain awards, Fabric Pavilion, trend forecasts and contract focus. Interiors UK features more exhibitors and new products than any other trade event in its sector – its organiser will be hoping for better weather than the snow that hindered the 2013 event.
[NOTE: The 2014 edition of Interiors UK was the last – organiser UBM plans to relocate the show to London's May Design Series, while a new NEC fair, the January Furniture Show, in the same traditional slot, has been announced for 13-15th January 2015]
The first truly regional fair takes place from 26-28th January, when the Scottish Furniture Representatives Association (SFRA) show comes to Edinburgh’s Highland Hall.
On to February, and Spring Fair International, Europe’s largest home and gift trade fair, takes place in the Birmingham NEC from 2nd-6th of the month. Among the gifts, toys and jewellery is a good selection of home interiors products, particularly decorative accessories, soft furnishings and occasional furniture. As befits a trade show of its size, Spring Fair offers a strong selection of special feature areas, seminars and live demonstrations.
The NEC is also home to KBB Birmingham, from 2nd-5th March, at which a small selection of bedroom furniture suppliers will be present (kitchens and bathrooms are very much the priority areas here).
Skipping ahead, the May Design Series returns to ExCeL London from 18-20th May for a second year. The multi-faceted show, which comprises kbb LDN, The Arc Show, Interiors LDN and DX, promises over 250 brands with an interior design/commercial specifier leaning – and is set to be significantly bolstered by the addition of The Furniture Show at May Design Series, which organiser UBM hopes to populate with the bulk of Interiors UK's exhibitors, starting this year.
Then there’s independent design festival Clerkenwell Design Week, which takes place throughout over 60 showrooms across the London design district between 20th-22nd May.
Although a small fair, Long Point is becoming a key fixture in the calendar of an increasing number of discerning buyers. The show, which takes place in showrooms across the Derbyshire town of Long Eaton, comprises a number of furniture exhibitors in addition to the high-end upholstery suppliers for which it is renowned. The spring edition takes place from 12-14th May.
[NOTE: Rather than moving to accommodate changes in the events calendar as previously reported, next year's spring Long Point will take place at the usual time]
The first annual Minerva members-only exhibition takes place at Telford’s International Centre from 20th-21st May. Judging by the performance of the 2012 shows, the buying group is going from strength to strength right now.
Tetrad’s Midpoint returns to Sheward House in Shirley near Birmingham from 10-11th June.
Solex, the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association’s annual fair, returns to the NEC from 7-9th July. Buoyed by fine weather, the 2012 event saw many happy participants and visitors to the new venue.
Home & Gift takes place in Harrogate from 13-16th July, offering a smaller alternative to the bombast of Birmingham’s Spring and Autumn Fairs.
“The Bed Show has quickly become the strongest platform for the bed industry in the UK”
Also running between 13-16th July is Manchester Furniture Show, the second-largest UK furniture-focused trade event. The 2014 edition sees a move away from the smaller West Hall, in favour of enlarged exhibition space around the atriums surrounding the Main Hall of the Manchester Central venue.
After a brief summer respite, it’s back into showtime with a glut of events throughout September. The month begins with an AIS member-only show between 1st-2nd, at the buying group’s headquarters in Shirley, Solihull, the Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre.
Autumn Fair International, a well-established pre-Christmas buying platfrom, returns to the Birmingham NEC from 7-10th September, promising plenty of occasional furniture, furnishings and accessories amongst the giftware.
Next up, also taking place at the NEC, is Glee, the outdoor- and garden centre-focused event that boasts some outdoor furniture, from 14-16th September.
Long Point returns to Long Eaton for its autumn edition from 15-17th September – generally the larger of the two annual events.
The regional event for the South-west, the SWMRAF’s South West Furniture Show takes place from 16-18th September, in the Sedgemoor Auction Centre, North Petherton, Somerset.
In late September, London becomes a design capital once again as a number of interiors-focused shows take place in the wake of the London Design Festival, taking place in venues across the city from 13th-21st September.
These include 100% Design at Earls Court from 17-20th September. The show appears to have recaptured much of the vitality of previous years. Then there’s Tent and Superbrands London, which returns to the Old Truman Brewery from 18th-21st September. A destination for high-end commercial interiors brands and more, Decorex International moves to Syon Park, London, from 21st-24th September, along with its usual wealth of high-profile special features.
From 23rd-24th September, Telford’s International Centre will welcome the members of the NBF for the popular Bed Show. This fair, along with the Gala Dinner that accompanies it, has quickly become the strongest platform for the bed industry in the UK, and features bed, bed-making machinery and component suppliers.
The Branded Furniture Show, organised by Buoyant Upholstery, will be folded into the Minerva buying group’s second annual event, the new Autumn Furniture Show, scheduled to run from 7-9th October at The International Centre, Telford (the first day open exclusively to members of the Minerva and SMG buying groups, and the following two to the trade in general), rounding off a packed UK furniture-sourcing calendar.
Remember to consult this website for updates to the diary of exhibitions, both at home and abroad – I'll try to keep this post up to date with amendments when possible.