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Design community returns to the lap of luxury

by Emily Wallin

Virtual events will never be as popular as face-to-face for luxury design because visitors need to be able to touch and feel products says Decorex event director Sam Fisher.

The four-day luxury design show returned to Olympia London from 10 – 13 October, complemented by a virtual event, Decorex Virtual, featuring all the exhibitors from the live show across three days from 16 – 18 November.

“Virtual is not ideal for high-end interiors,” says Fisher. “In person events are the way forward.”

“Last year, virtual was a necessity. Virtual events can be a great way to engage the community, but you are much more limited in what you can do with interiors.

“We really need that luxury feel to our events.”

A key player in the design and events industry for more than 16 years, Fisher’s strong relationships with exhibitors and designers help her to create the though-provoking content of the show.

Uniting the interior design community for 43 years, Decorex returned with a portfolio of the best names in luxury design and interiors.

Established in 1978, Decorex is firmly recognised among the international design community as a trusted resource for high-end interior designers, architects, specifiers, retailers and property developers.

Annually it boasts more than 400 exhibitors from leading names to emerging talents and attracting 15,000 visitors from across the globe through both in-person and virtual editions of the event.

Whilst acknowledging the need for in-person events Fisher says some digital elements will become a permanent fixture in future.

“Going forward we are working towards some form of digital element, but we want to see what the options are,” she says. “I think everyone is going to need some virtual elements – but it’s clear that no one wants to be fully digital if it can be
avoided.”

Following a successful four year run at Syon Park, Decorex moved to Olympia in 2019, and in their second year at the venue they are still delighted with the 130-year-old setting.

“Olympia has been amazing,” says Fisher. “It is only the second time we have used an exhibition centre, because we really need a beautiful setting.

“We previously always had our own purpose-built venue, a marquee which we put up in all kinds of fields and the grounds of Chelsea Hospital. We are very limited on what we can do, but Olympia has great character.”

Another key issue as Decorex moves into the future is sustainability.

“Sustainability is a huge issue for everyone,” says Fisher. “We already have set objectives for the show, for
example all our carpet and stands have to be recyclable.

“But sustainability is also a really big deal in the interiors world. A lot of our exhibitors are designing more sustainable products and its what consumers want to see more of in design, so it’s important to get it right.”

As a part of Informa Market’s continued commitment to the sustainability, this year’s Decorex was powered by 100% renewable electricity. By using carbon neutral power they prevented the creation of an estimated 21.5tons of CO2.

Among the most environmentally focused interior design brands that really wowed visitors were biodegradable mattress
company Naturalmat, solvent free The Little Greene Paint Company and artisan textile design studio A Rum Fellow.

Another environmentally friendly highlight of the show was the launch of design community favourite Rose Uniacke’s paint collection.

To celebrate to long-awaited return of face-to-face events and fun Decorex kept with its tradition of inviting a renowned interior tastemaker to design the scheme for the bar at the heart of the show.

Sara Cosgrove, founder of multidisciplinary interior design and interior architectural practice Sara Cosgrove Studio, created a playful and captivating space with her uplifting circus concept. Exotic drapes, hand painted motifs and sumptuous velvet made it the perfect space to reconnect with others.

“Following the ups and downs of the past 18 months, when it came to developing the concept for this year’s Decorex bar I wanted to do two things, create a space for our industry members to reunite and secondly to do something
fun,” says Cosgrove.

Online attendees to Decorex Virtual also had the opportunity to explore Sara Cogrove’s design in a 3D walkthrough. Visitors to the show were welcomed by a display or dreamlike floating butterflies, designed by Future Heritage designer and engineer Moritz Waldemeyer.

Fisher is now looking forward to next year’s Decorex. 2021’s show saw significant rebookings for October 2022.

“Decorex wouldn’t be possible without the continued support of our community,” she says. “We’d like to give a big thank you to all of those that were involved in 2021’s edition – from our groundbreaking exhibitors, dedicated designers of our features, the speakers who shared their expertise and every visitor who came to celebrate design.”

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