A Year in Furniture: Highlights from the Furniture Trade Fair Scene in 2019
2019 was a momentous year as always for the furniture trade show industry, which treated professionals and the public to some truly wondrous shows and exhibitions. Attendees witnessed the launch of new brands and welcomed the arrival of rising talent in the furniture design world. Guests at events left packed with inspiration and the thoughts of some exhibitors had already turned to shows and exhibitions in 2020.
Find out what you missed as we look at some of the main furniture trade show highlights of 2019
The January Furniture Show 2019
20 Jan. to 23 Jan. National Exhibition Centre, North Ave, Marston Green, Birmingham, B40 1NT
The January Furniture Show is always a big event in the furniture trade show industry, but the 2019 event saw a special development: the introduction of BEDS. This was a special zone for bed brands to showcase their products at the show.
According to the latest available data, the beds market grew by 1.2% in 2018, which might explain why the zone was such a hit in 2019. This success prompted the organisers to bring it back in 2020’s event. The zone featured Millgate Beds, Highgrove Beds Ltd, Mlily, Deep Sleep, Vogue, Sealy, Rest Assured, Silentnight, Highgate Beds and Breasley. Dreamworks, Kayflex and Dura Beds were also at the show and were exhibiting there for the first time.
Beds weren’t the only success. LIGHT, a zone for indoor and outdoor decorative lighting also received plenty of love from visitors. General, task and accent lighting were all on display. Visitors saw anything and everything from lamp lights through to statement chandeliers. The success of the zone also saw it make a comeback to the 2020 January Furniture Show.
The London Fabric Show
25 Feb. to 26 Feb. West Stand Stamford Bridge, Fulham Rd, Fulham, London, SW6 1HS
The annual London Fabric Show showcases the very latest in fabrics and is a chance for professionals from the beds, upholstery and soft furnishings industries to discover some of the finest fabric brands in the game. The show took place in its prestigious regular venue of the executive directors’ box and hospitality suites in the West Stand of the Chelsea FC football ground, in Fulham.
The 2019 show was a roaring success, with exhibitors commenting how it had brought together all the best from the industry in one convenient location, saving them the time of travelling all around the country to search for suitable retailers. Sleepeezee Ltd is just one of the household names that attended this high-end event.
This was the fifth show and its continued success will see the sixth one take place again on 19 to 20 February 2020, this time rebranding as the BFM Fabric Show London. (The BFM stands for British Furniture Manufacturers Association.) Guests will be able to see chenilles, velvets, wools, silks, polyesters, tweeds and more and it’s not only visitors from the upholstery, beds and soft furnishing industries who will attend. Buyers from hotel chains and groups or from the leisure industry attend, as do specifiers for large-scale interior fit outs and contract buyers for interior design projects. It’s a must-visit show in the industry.
The Ideal Homes Show
22 Mar. to 17 Apr. Olympia London, Hammersmith Rd, London, W14 8UX
The Ideal Homes Show never fails to delight and the 2019 edition was no different. The show boasted some of the most innovative developments in the world of home furnishings and there were more than 600 stalls. Real estate specialist Phil Spencer, TV presenter Nick Knowles and celebrity chef Lisa Faulkner all attended the event, so if you were out to spot celebrities, you wouldn’t have been disappointed.
One of the show’s highlights was the fully built show home and gardens, with life-sized showrooms for visitors to wander around and admire, not to mention from which to take some inspiration for their own homes. The presence of experts at the show, with whom visitors could chat and get further guidance, worked even further towards the event’s success. The lavish Champagne bar also made the show an opportunity and occasion to get sociable while seeing everything that was going on in the industry.
Manchester Furniture Show
19 July to 21 July Manchester Furniture Show, Manchester Central Convention Centre, Windmill Street, Manchester M2 3GX
The Manchester Furniture Show really rocked it in 2019, with more than 100 suppliers exhibiting at the show. There was plenty of variety, with buyers having plenty of options between mainstream brands and high-end brands. Visitors were able to browse some delicious bedroom and living room furniture, beds, mattresses, upholstery and more. More than 5,000 people came through the show’s doors and before the event had even finished, over half of the exhibitors had already committed to returning to the show in 2020.
One of the special attributes of the Manchester Show was its willingness to showcase and promote regional talent. For the third year, the show displayed work by students from Burnley College. Visitors were able to view writing desks, tables and chairs crafted by students on vocational and adult learning courses at the college. The age range of the students stretched from 16 to 72 years.
Irish Furniture and Homeware Shows (IFHS) 2019
22 Aug. to 25 Aug. The National Show Centre, Stockhole Lane, Cloghran, Swords, Co. Dublin, IRELAND
The Irish Furniture and Homewares Show (IFHS), which took place across the water in Dublin, Ireland, was too good to miss. This furniture trade show has been running since 2014. It caters for the Irish market and the UK market and was born out of the idea to boost the Irish furniture market, which has stayed competitive through flexible production processes and automation.
The Irish Furniture and Homewares Show featured elegant beds, sofas, upholstery and other attractive pieces of furniture and homeware. The show wasn’t just about the exhibits, however; it was about the awards, too, which many in the industry covet and which made a comeback to the show in 2019. Brands and professionals in the industry scooped awards in categories such as Best Bedroom Collection and Best Upholstery Product. There were also new retailers’ choice awards for Best Supplier and Best Sales Rep.
Decorex International 2019 (The London Interior Design Show)
6 Oct. to 9 Oct. Olympia London, Hammersmith Rd, Hammersmith, London, W14 8UX
The London Interior Design Show has been taking place annually since 1978 and last year’s show was huge. The installation ‘Design Encounter’ consisted of six interconnected, individually created rooms by different designers and challenged visitors’ perceptions. The award-winning designer Fran Hickman used sustainable materials to create the bar and the design duo Harding & Read continued the theme in the VIP lounge.
The show featured more than 400 brands there, delighting visitors with product launches. There were more than 20 different seminars and over 50 inspirational speakers. Live interactive demonstrations provided visitors insight into just how much care goes into making bespoke pieces for homes. The show also housed a special section, Future Heritage, which focused on British craft and collectible work by British designers.
Looking back on 2019
2019 was a tremendous year for furniture trade fairs, with annual trade fairs delivering and delighting visitors yet again. New brands were there with product launches to tantalise buyers and the show introduced the public and the professionals to fresh new furniture design talent in the industry.
Consumers and retailers alike know these brands and designers are ones to watch in the future. The furniture trade fairs of 2019 have illustrated just what exciting times lie ahead for the furniture industry and are set to do it all over again in 2020. The furniture industry will likely have developed even further by the time the show dates come around again.
We can’t wait to see what’s out there! Can you?