In September 2019, Faversham House will be launching Imagine – a new kind of design event. EN catches up with event director Jenny Matthew to learn more.
Audiences are changing. Whereas previously they might have been happy to meet in a standard exhibition hall to talk business, increasingly some industries are beginning to demand more.
It’s this changing landscape that has inspired Imagine, a new design event from Faversham House, set to come to Tobacco Dock in September 2019 as part of London Design Festival.
Imagine will serve as a creative companion to the organiser’s production-focused event Sign & Digital UK, which takes place annually at the NEC. Sign & Digital is a production show, showcasing the equipment used for signage and visual communications solutions, with a show floor full of wide format printers and different processes used to create signage.
“The idea for Imagine actually came from the team that work on that show,” event director Jenny Matthew tells EN. “They spotted a gap in the market. Some exhibitors wanted to see more end user buyers – retailers, visual merchandisers, people who would actually specify signage. A visual merchandiser doesn’t want to go to an event and see a piece of machinery, they want to see what could be done for their window display.”
The team spent the summer of 2018 carrying out a comprehensive research project to see whether there was an appetite for an event that could showcase the output from Sign & Digital – and it turned out there was.
“When we did the research with the visitor audience it became really apparent that the traditional exhibition model wouldn’t work,” continues Matthew. “They’re very creative. They’re hungry for new ideas and inspiration on social media. They are always looking at things that they could then bring into their design. A traditional exhibition – with shell scheme and seminar theatres – is just not going to work for these guys.”
The solution, says Matthew, was a change of perspective. Rather than exhibitors, the event will have visual partners; rather than floor space or shell scheme, the team will be selling pitches.
“There will be a free-flowing feel to the event, like going to an art gallery,” Matthew continues. “Visitors looking for innovation and inspiration want to feel wowed. We want them to come to the event and think, ‘I’ve got to take a picture of that and post it on Instagram’. It became really apparent that Imagine needed to be an experiential and immersive event. That’s why we’re doing things slightly differently.”
When we did research with the visitor audience it became apparent that the traditional exhibition model wouldn’t work
The venue – Tobacco Dock in East London – will also play an important part in the look and feel of the show.
“We wanted a venue that was iconic in its own right and an interesting venue to go to,” says Matthew. “It lends itself really nicely to having areas where companies can display visual communication solutions in an innovative way and in a way that suits what it is they’re actually showing.”
The Imagine team has brought on a creative director to curate the content at the show, bring together the vision and branding for the event, and help all the visual partners work together to create a consistent theme.
The show will feature different areas entitled ‘I’m learning’, ‘I’m exploring’ ‘I’m discovering’ and ‘I’m creating’, with the creative director working with each visual partner in each area to make sure they have links to the theme. The team will also be working with visual partners to make sure that their pitches offer an immersive experience. Imagine, says Matthew, will be an informal event where visitors and visual partners can still do business.
Finally, there will also be content at the event. While the Imagine team is still conducting audience research on exactly what this might look like, Matthew envisions something quite different to traditional conference-style seminars.
As the trend of festivalisation was making headlines and dividing opinion throughout 2018, it will be interesting to see how Imagine develops as a different type of trade event.