100% Design; A First-Timer's Review

As a first-time visitor to a show, it’s hard not to be prejudiced (either positively or otherwise) by the preceding chatter surrounding it. Before arriving at Earls Court we’d heard a lot about the show’s decline over the years before its 2012 buy-out by Media10, and about a rival interiors show (staged in the same week) which has been hailed by some as the better of the two. We’d also heard, however, that a lot has changed in the last two years at 100% Design. With more seminars, a wider range of exhibitors, a greater level of creativity in the show’s design we were excited to be heading down, and pleased to report that we were not disappointed.

We’ve decided that the magic formula for a satisfied show go-er is Wow Factor + Education in equal measure (oh, and good coffee). One can only look at so many chairs before synchro-mechanism overload sets in. So, where is there to go when you’re saturated with “product”? Well, at 100% design there was a lively and worthwhile programme of seminars & discussions staged throughout to punctuate our schedule. Naturally we were drawn to the Office section of the show, and the “Hanging Room” Hub designed by Tilt Studios hosted some serious workplace heavyweights debating the hot-topics in office design.

The first session, chaired by Mark Eltringham of OfficeInsight, opened up a debate around the modern office with a panel including noted workplace experts Tim Oldman of Leesman, Monica Parker of Morgan Lovell and Colin Rawlings of Crosscom. Day one began with a debate on the default approach of open-plan design and the affect this has on acoustics and workplace culture. The theme continued on day two during an interview with Oliver Marlow of Tilt Studios. Both sessions challenged and educated us in our approach to workplace design, and helped us cement some ideas. Here they are:

• Design will always be cyclical. Whilst we are now in a phase of “open-plan-wins” thinking, people are beginning to crave more privacy and focus at work.

• Where the bottom line is concerned, the tendency is to “Max, pack and rack” (thanks Monica Parker for that phrase!) the occupier into as small a space as possible, but…

• …alternatives must be offered. We must work to create enabling environments, offering flexibility, rather than sticking to what “works” or what we are familiar with.

• Begin from a true evidence-based (rather than ego-based) starting point. This looks like…
…understanding the client’s behaviours before even taking a brief;
…learn the volume and frequency of their activities
…accounting for and understanding workplace surveys, but not jumping on statistical bandwagons

• Working from a good base of evidence will shape the brief and help make the right decisions from day one, avoiding costly retro-fit solutions.

The big issues of acoustics and the need for privacy and focus was reflected in bucket-loads by the exhibitors. Head over to our facebook page to see our pick of products we liked.

With numerous features and seminars throughout the show we can certainly tick the “Wow Factor + Education” boxes again and again.

Needless to say, we’ll be back next year.

    Posted in Interiors - 24th September, 2013

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