Home TopicEvents New exhibition organiser vows show will be physical or nothing

New exhibition organiser vows show will be physical or nothing

by Joe Gallop

The inaugural Workspace Show, dedicated to the commercial interiors community, hopes to be among the first physical-only events to return in the 2021 calendar.

With the online launch taking place on 21 January, the free-to-attend show is scheduled to go ahead from 4-5 November at London’s Business Design Centre (pictured) and will feature exhibitors and product launches from the office, healthcare and education sectors.

The event will also feature 20 workspace talks, including those from its nine-member advisory board such as Kate Vine of Perkins & Will, as well as Alan Bainbridge, head of workplace and corporate real estate at the BBC, author Neil Usher and Luke Tozer, founder of Pitman Tozer Architects.

Over 3,000 attendees are hoped to attend the event, which will offer networking opportunities and an evening dedicated to architects and designers, as well as an office design themed pub quiz night.

Under the theme of ‘re-designing tomorrow’s commercial interiors together’, the event will also explore sustainability in the office and a feature dedicated to coworking spaces, aiming to reflect the transformation brought on by the pandemic.

The event was founded by Esha and Charlie Bark-Jones, who moved back to the UK last year after living in Dubai for 10 years, where they worked for dmg Events and Informa respectively.

“While doing our research we came to the conclusion that there’s a market gap within the office design events industry in the UK,” Esha told EN.

“I know there are commercial design shows, hospitality design shows, but we didn’t find anything that caters just to the office education and healthcare design. So, we thought it would be brilliant to bring the entire community together and talk about the shape of things to come within these sectors.”

The pair wanted to launch the show at the beginning of last year before the pandemic hit but are now hoping vaccinations and an easing of restrictions will ensure it goes ahead as planned.

“If there are restrictions in place that mean we can’t do it at that date, then we wouldn’t move it to a virtual event,” said Charlie.

“This is a very product-based exhibition, and people are going to be coming along to see office furniture, lighting, storage, carpets et cetera. So, it’s the kind of exhibition where people need to come along and have the experiential side of it. If it comes to it, we will postpone the event and look for the next suitable date in the calendar, which we imagine would probably be Q1 or Q2 in 2022.”

The industry response has been overwhelmingly positive according to the organisers who, with the help of their existing contacts, are hoping to add an “international flavour” of brands at the Business Design Centre, and are expecting a pavilion from countries including Italy, Turkey, Poland, Germany and Portugal.

“We started speaking with the advisory board to see if there’s an appetite for this kind of event and it was fantastic how the leading experts from the likes of Gensler and Perkins & Will came back with a positive response and said it would be brilliant to get everyone together under one roof,” said Esha.

“We are all in a virtual world right now and a lot of us have experienced that we are not ready for a complete virtual world.  We do need offices, whether it’s in the form of core working spaces, hybrid offices, there is an absolute need to get together and discuss what’s happening. And that’s why the show has been launched.

“The landscape has been ever-changing and now more than ever we need to get together and discuss what is going to come in the future.”

Registration for the event can be found here.


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