Funking up The Flooring Show - Review

September. The month of the Design Tradeshow. Events like Decorex and 100%Design display the very latest in Interior products & finishes, with a whole range of additional attractions to boot. Could The Flooring Show ever be mentioned in the same sentence as these heavyweights? Only time will tell.

It was our first time there this week, not as an exhibitor, but as part of the furniture… so to speak. A while back Scarlet Opus approached us to help them with the Trends Hub. This area was designed to inform delegates and exhibitors about upcoming Trends for 2014. Our half of the bargain was to supply the furniture, show up, and smile. We loved working with the Scarlet Opus team; three days to soak up free trend information and get in some great networking to boot, what’s not to love? But as relative outsiders to the flooring industry our impression of the show was…

…Mixed.

The show has been going since the 1960’s (which is no mean feat). It’s therefore understandable that in 50+ years, people get comfortable, apathetic, and a bit “safe” in what – and how – they exhibit. This was the first year that Scarlet Opus had been involved, and even without any prior experience of the show I could sense their Trend Hub was a real breath of fresh air. I’m not sure their forward thinking was entirely embraced by the other exhibitors.

In the flooring industry (and probably construction as a whole) the two ends of the Design > Specify > Deliver process are quite distinct:

Starting with designer/specifier : we’re talking a big, overarching, visionary approach. Someone who facilitates transformation and change, dreaming big visions into reality.
In the middle is the retailer/wholesaler : I can’t help but think big watches and shiny teeth.
At the delivery end you have the installer. This tradesperson translates the big vision into a practical, achievable solution, requires some very down to earth thinking, and often reduces the decision making down to product / price / quality / timing.

With very different personality types occupying each stage of the process the journey from vision to reality can be disjointed. Add a gender difference into the mix (apologies if I’m stereotyping), and you have huge and varied demographic to cater for.

Herein lies my point : The Flooring Show appeared to cater for one end of that spectrum. The male-dominated, down-to-earth, tradesman end of the spectrum. This was evidenced by male-dominated stands (ten salesmen not enough for one exhibitor) grey, grey suits, and a LOT of beige carpet. I can’t go without mentioning the mis-judged deployment of bikini-clad promo-girls on one stand. I must say this was nothing to do with the show’s organisers; they shook their heads as much as anybody. Thankfully by day three the culprits saw sense and gave the girls a day off.

That said, I have no objection to the show catering for the trade end of the market. However, for it to flourish in future the organisers must cast their net much, much wider. Recognition of the needs and expectations of the designer / specifier is all it would require. These people are savvy, experienced and have high expectations. They attend shows to be wowed and inspired, to see, touch, feel, smell the products and experience them in a way you just can’t if you’re browsing the internet. Delegates want to see inspirational stands, and aspirational products, in an environment that stimulates and encourages creativity.

So next year I hope to see a bit more creativity, a heap more variety… and a lot less skin.

If you found this article interesting you might be interested to read Vanessa Brady’s thoughts on the industry – her blog was written pre-show.

    Posted in - 3rd September, 2013

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