LIVE from THE FLOORING SHOW 2014 Trends Hub

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We’re back at The Flooring Show again today with a detailed look at the Trends Hub, which we’re thrilled to have designed and curated for a 2nd year.

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Designing an exhibition booth is about so much more than simply figuring out how to display all of your product in a specified space along with a big company logo.  It’s about:

  • Successfully designing ways to attract visitors onto your booth
  • Creating an experience
  • Driving desire, intrigue and interaction
  • Delivering information in innovative ways
  • Making a lasting impression

These are our key goals when we design exhibition booths and Trends Hubs for our clients, and answering these goals was the basis of our design work when we started on the 2014 Flooring Show Trends Hub.

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It all started with Phil’s innovative concept to have a design project being completed by Surface Pattern Design students live on the Trends Hub during the show as a way to create a space that exuded creative energy; showcased new Designer’s work; drove interaction between the Designers and visitors to the show; and was a reason for visitors to keep coming back to the Trends Hub to see the design work progressing. From here we began to pull together furniture, flooring, lighting and accessories that would create an informal urban-look studio space for the students to feel free to be creative in, and for visitors to feel free to explore.  We took inspiration from the HighLine in New York; the creative attitudes of the Millennial design students from The University of Huddersfield; as well as a recent business trip to the fantastic city of Melbourne – where the graffitied streets, cultural mix, and outdoor lifestyle (regardless of the weather) results in an open, relaxed, creative atmosphere.

js1600_js1600_inspiration_boardThe next step was for Laura to create a mood board (above) of our ‘first choice’ products and select the colour palette we wanted to focus on, in order to provide both the show organisers and sponsors with a visual of the overall look we were going for. Laura and Phil met with the product sponsors to discuss the Trends Hub design and we’re thrilled that this year’s Flooring Show Trends Hub features:

  • Wonderfully realistic concrete and pebble-look flooring via Skinny Planks carpet tiles from interface‘s ‘Human Nature’ collection
  • Seriously cool cushions from THRŌ
  • Fantastic contemporary commercial furniture from Connection UK including Dixie and Swoosh chairs, a Horizon seating configuration with Zeus tables, a brilliant Cubbi quad configuration (which I’m sitting in right now as I blog), and One chairs for the design students to sit comfortably whilst completing their design work at Is.Tables

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One of the features we were most keen to create in the Trends Hub was a graffitied section of wall and flooring depicting a wordle, which included words associated with the design project the students would be working on as well as sponsors names.  Laura dug out her little black book of brilliant Designers and struck gold in the form of Melanie Longbottom, who spent 2 days over at Joe Manby Ltd (the very accommodating show builders) creating 2 huge graffitied panels to our exact colour specification.

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ABOVE: Melanie Longbottom takes a break from her graffiti work.

And here is how the graffitied wall and floor sections look in place on the Trends Hub We are totally blown away by the final result:

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Although we’d introduced some grass green elements onto the Trends Hub via Interface’s Skinny Planks carpet tiles, we really wanted to have some actual moss incorporated in some way in order to acknowledge the growing yearning to connect with Nature (Biophilia), and the widespread integration of plants and trees into the structures of planned architectural projects around the world.  It’s this type of depth of understanding of future design trends (like Wild Urbanism) that enables the team at Scarlet Opus to incorporate subtle but significant trend elements into the design of exhibition booths that really resonate with visitors.  We began a search to find an innovative product that would enable us to introduce moss onto the Hub in some form, and discovered the striking panels, installations and signage being created by leading Italian design company Arpolitalia.

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Arpolitalia agreed to make the ‘Future Surfaces’ moss sign that hangs above the table crammed full of material samples:

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As a team we sourced an array of samples that visually relate to the design brief the students have been working on, but that also provide visitors with a focused snapshot of inspirational, innovative and on-trend products from around the world.  Samples in the ‘Future Surfaces’ area include: Aluminum Art Panels (a mix of beautiful photography and multimedia graphics coupled with hand processed materials) from Alex Turco based in Italy; Exquisite metal panels with natural inlays, such as shell and bamboo, by Campioni Artisans based in Germany; Bespoke hand-tufted rugs by Designer/Maker Adriana Tavares based in the UK; PERSPEX® cast acrylics; Hex and Unique porcelain graffiti tiles from BluePrint Ceramics; Laser cut tiles from Fameed Khalique; Tiles from British Ceramic Tile (who also very generously sponsored the Live Design Project.  We’ll announce the winner of the competition on twitter later today!).

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This is the 3rd day running that Surface Pattern Design students from The University of Huddersfield have been creating designs live on the Trends Hub based on a forecast we provided of 2 trends for Autumn/Winter 2015/16.

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This afternoon their work will be judged, and the winner and a runner-up announced, who will each receive a cash prize and trophy sponsored by British Ceramic Tile.

js1600_scarlet opus editTrend Forecasting knowledge can be used to create successful exhibition booth designs.

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Top 10 finds at THE FLOORING SHOW 2014

The-Flooring-Show-Logo-2014Today Laura & I are blogging live from The Flooring Show in the UK, and we’re going to share with you our pick of the Top 10 best finds and features from across the show.  We walked all of the halls this morning to spot the best exhibitor stands, most innovative marketing ideas, and interesting products.

1. Wool installation by Angela Wright

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ABOVE: Angela Wright’s stunning installation of wool hanks, supplied by Curtis Wool, are hung from loops of rope to create a huge waterfall of flowing, wriggling and overlapping yarn. The dark brown Shetland wool appears as a shadow of the lighter hank, which is made up of wool sourced from 40 different countries, and together they create a work that celebrates the raw beauty of a wonderfully versatile natural material.

2. Homes & Gardens ‘Wool Inspiration’ room-sets on the Wool Trends Centre

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ABOVE: Homes & Gardens magazine joined forces with the Campaign For Wool, and some of the most respected names in the carpet industry, to create a quad of roomsets showcasing their products together.  It’s so refreshing to see carpet exhibited in context in this way so the relationship between flooring, furniture and accessories is clear and inspiring.

3. The Plantation Rug Company

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ABOVE: The Plantation Rug Company have been designing and weaving rugs since the 1930’s, but even though they have this fantastic history in rug making, their eyes are firmly on the future.  They have a keen understanding of what’s now and what’s next in terms of fashion.  As they state on their website “Fashion is no longer just for our bodies, it’s our life. The clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the interiors we choose. It’s our life. Fashion. It’s not where we started: it’s where we are now. We mix the old with the new: traditional, rug making weaves with two, seasonal, ahead-of-the-trend rug collections. Fashion evolves. Our rugs evolve.”

4. British Ceramic Tile

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ABOVE: British Ceramic Tile are the first tile manufacturer to exhibit at The Flooring Show in its 50 year history, and so we want to extend a warm welcome to the team who are working on the companies eye-catching stand.  It’s always great to see exhibitors making a special effort with their stand design, and British Ceramic Tile have cleverly included an iconic British design in the form of a MINI painted up with a Union Jack roof. They also deserve praise for being forward-thinking and generous in their sponsorship of the Live Student Design Project which is currently taking place on the Trends Hub.

5. Barnscroft of Devon

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ABOVE: Sometimes small is beautiful, and that is certainly the case with the Barnscroft of Devon stand where we found a sumptuous array of sheepskins and cow hides. Luxurious, natural and beautifully finished – they offer a carefully selected range of very desirable, on-trend rugs.  They have taken an edited-down approach, displaying examples of their very best products, resulting in a treasure trove outcome.

6. Adam Carpets

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ABOVE: We love the sample boards displayed on easels on the Adam Carpets stand. They had purposely set out to find an alternative method of displaying their range to the usual lecterns, carousels and waterfalls that dominate most flooring exhibition stands.  By bringing product together on these boards, the colours, qualities and patterns from their collections can be easily compared and the products feel much more connected to current interior design trends.  We also loved the smart style of the classic men’s suiting fabric-inspired carpet designs laid in pattern blocks on their stand floor.

7. F&X Carpets

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ABOVE: At first glance the F&X Carpets stand appeared to be a traditional display of neutral shades of carpet … and then we spotted these fantastic handbags incorporating their carpeting.  This single display case was extremely powerful because it made a very strong visual connection between F&X Carpets products and Fashion.  This association led us to view their range from a fresh perspective.

8. EarthWerks

lvtThis vibrant display of ‘Cocktail’ LVT flooring on the floor of the EarthWerks stand stopped us in our tracks.  The wonderfully named ‘Mojito – Mint Leaf’, ‘Blue Lagoon – Malibu Blue’, and ‘Purple Rain – Violetta’ looked stunning and offered an unusual way to introduce colour into room schemes.

9. The British WoolCampaign For Wool & National Sheep Association enclosure

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ABOVE: Outside the entrance to The Flooring Show in the Harrogate International Centre visitors are greeted by an enclosure of Dalesbred and Roughfell sheep, which act as a very physical reminder to visitors of the source of the wool carpets and rugs being exhibited inside on exhibitor stands.

10. Biophilia seminar by Oliver Heath

js1600_GROUPIt was fantastic to see sustainable architectural & interior designer, TV presenter and writer Oliver Heath at the show today.  His seminar, about the emerging science and style of Biophilic Design, really inspired the students from The University of Huddersfield.  Oliver was kind enough to take time out to come over to the Trends Hub after his seminar to chat to the students who talked him through the project they’ve been working on during the show.  It’s wonderful that The Flooring Show has such a strong seminar program and offers access to experts such as Oliver Heath.

I know you’ll be thinking “What about the Trends Hub?”.  Well, check back again tomorrow because we’ll be dedicating a full post to giving you a tour of the Trends Hub and all of its features.

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How to Use S/S2015 Design Trends in Product … Get Inspired!

Today I Love… Bohemian Brights

The summer may be nearly over for us here in Europe but we are still inspired by this vibrant colour palette moving us towards Spring/Summer 2015. This fusion of digital and handcrafted elements creates a tribal, cultural aesthetic, with basket weaved, woven, tufted, fringed and beaded features.

These colours evoke creativity, passion and personalisation with the turquoise blue, vivid red and vibrant yellow used as accent colours though-out product and materials.

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1. Rianne ten Haken by Petrovsky and Ramone Image courtesy of fashionfaves Blog 2. Superheros Series by Glimpt Studio 3. Image courtesy of weheartit blog 4. Invitations by Alejandra Suite available on Etsy 5. Textile by Amy Leigh Green  6. Accessorize printed cushions available at Very.com 7. Image courtesy of Aow Dusdee 8. Image courtesy of My Decorative Blog  9. PET bottle lamps by alvaro catalan de ocon 10. Scarlet Opus image

Pattern Design

Here are a few ideas of how to work the bohemian inspired designs into your surface pattern design including ideas for interior wallpaper, flooring design, fashion &, stationary products. This ‘clashing of culture’ look creates a wonderfully detailed mix of pattern inspired by travel.

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1. Kerala Tapestry by Urban Outfitters 2. Soho Collection by Camp David 3. Flowers in the Mix Wallpaper by PiP Studio

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How can you work this look into kitchenware products?

These colours look great when teamed up with bold patterns for dining and tableware. A collection of unique culture inspired bowls, plates and cups will brighten up any kitchen!

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1. Origo Patterned Tableware by Alfredo Häberli 2. Bohemian Dinnerware 3. Image courtesy of iwoman.com

Lighting

Lighting is a great way of subtly creating the perfect mood, you might consider these designs which would brighten up any interior setting, the bold colours and strong patterns are perfect for spring/summer 2015!

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1. Lampshade by Rachael Taylor 2. PET bottle lamps by Alvaro Catalan de Ocon 3. Beaded Hanging Light available at Living Exclusive

Outdoors

And of course we don’t just want to see this look inside… why not take it outdoors as well. This is a perfect setting for summer outdoor dining, the bohemian brights create a relaxing yet vibrant party atmosphere where traditionalism takes on a new form in culture inspired colours, shapes and surface designs.

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1. Image courtesy of Justina Blakeney 2. Le Versha Chair available at Anthropologie 3. World Travels Fast Lantern available at ModCloth

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Find out what Scarlet Opus can do for your business. Get in touch!

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How to Do Your Own Search Engine Optimisation

How many conversations have you had about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? And how many emails from how many companies have you received effectively saying something like this:

“We’ve visited your website and quite frankly it’s pants, if we hadn’t spent the last month specifically looking for it we’d had never come across it. You need to know that it doesn’t even feature on Google until the millionth page. But, don’t worry, don’t lose any sleep because we’re here now and for a mere several hundreds of £/$’s per month we can sort out the crappy job you’ve done so far on your website SEO”!

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Speed up page and rankingProbably, like me, you delete the email shortly after having designated the sender as ‘junk mail’. But, then you periodically for the rest of the day wonder if they were just 10% right? You probably find one of the myriad of SEO consultants in your locality and ask a couple of pertinent questions.

 

Well, after many such events, you’ve probably concluded that SEO is a complex, dark art known only to the millions of SEO experts that seem to have come into being over the past few years. I did the same. Then I decided I wasn’t willing to spend the requested sums of money on something that I simply couldn’t get my head around and nor could I find an ‘expert’ able to explain it to me in such a way that I finally understood the value of imparting my cash to them.

One day, I was chatting to a lovely fella who I now consider a friend, we’ll call him David Abbott (mainly because that’s his name!), about how he’d established a very successful online retail business in the interiors sector. I was interested because I knew David to be a marketing expert and speaker – what the heck did he know about interiors and more to the point to get his unknown ‘shop’ found on the internet. He replied simply and straightforwardly “I taught myself some very simple sel-help SEO principles and it’s just gone from there”. “What!?” I asked.

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Turns out that for a small & micro businesses, SEO doesn’t have to be a dark art, complex, or expensive. In fact, you can do-it-yourself and make your website/blog/online shop quite discoverable. My old mate (he is indeed older than me), David immediately shared with me his ‘Top Ten Tips for DIY SEO’ for the price of a cup of tea and cut’n paste access to the Scarlet Opus ‘Trend Blog Library’. And, at that price, we can both now share it with you FOR FREE that’s right, YOU can now go get yourself found easily and increase visitor/reader/customer numbers by following, practising and getting better with what now follows:

Untitled-1SEO tip #1 – There’s no need to be an SEO expert to get your website onto page 1 of Google. All you need is great site which is easy to navigate, helps your customers resolve their problems (finding somewhere to buy something, finding some information, etc), has fantastic original content, and is quick to load.

 

seo-powersuite-videoSEO tip #2 – When you’ve got a great site, you can help Google understand your site which will help you in the rankings. Start with page titles that describe each page using keywords that people search for. Only use a maximum of 70 characters, including spaces.

 

Clear page descriptionSEO tip #3 – Also have an excellent page description. This doesn’t influence rankings, but when your site does appear in search results there’s a compelling reason to click. Only use a maximum of 155 characters, including spaces.

SEO tip #4 – Make sure that each page URL (web address) uses keywords, not just a database generated string of meaningless characters. For example, www.mysite.com/brown-widgets, not www.mysite.com/productID=3387.

SEO tip #5 – Nothing succeeds like great content on a page; write the content for your users to resolve their problems, not because you think it will help you rank with Google.

SEO tip #6 – Keep your site fresh. Update pages, add events, include news, keep a blog. Add customer reviews.

seoSEO tip #7 – Keep your images small (if the website is going to display 400×300 pixels, make the image that size, don’t rely on the user’s browser to resize it; save it as a medium quality jpg file) so your pages load quickly, Google likes fast sites.

 

SEO tip #8 – Rename your images from the camera name (like IMG100449.jpg) to a meaningful name (like ‘Purple-product-small-tub.jpg’).

SEO tip #9 – Make sure your images have ALT text, such as ‘Blue denim skirt, small size'; Google can’t ‘see’ what an image really is so this helps it understand the page, and importantly it helps partially sighted people use your site.

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SEO tip #10 – This is a big one. Google likes links to your site, so get them from PR, other bloggers, social media, industry experts, directories, trade press, happy customers, etc. DON’T buy them.

So, off you go, have fun and see what all the fuss isn’t about! Oh, one last thing, could you please tell all of your friends, colleagues & contacts about this blog posting so that they too can share in the ‘free love’ that is DIY SEO……..

Cheers to my good friend David who’s rival marketing company (hold on seems a bit more expensive now!) is to be found here  www.insight-bp.co.uk

If you have shared this posting tell us, if you have questions burning your brain let us have them….. phil@scarletopus.com

 

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How Window Displays become Story Tellers: London

Lisa Le PeurianHi! I’m Lisa and I’m Guest Blogging for Scarlet Opus. I moved to London in January, where I’ve been inspired by the culture, fashion, design, and fast pace of life, but most of all by the shopping! A trip down Oxford Street is now a daily (very expensive) route to work for me… so come along and have a look at the shopping temptations I face…

Walking down Oxford Street through the hustle & bustle of people – tourists, workers and street performers – with the noise of the buses, traffic and jibber-jabber of voices, there is nowhere to escape, nowhere to hide, nowhere to find peace and quiet other than the silent stillness of a shop window. I’m drawn in by the tranquility of the untouchable beauty juxtaposed against the heavily crowded streets of London.

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During a days shopping on Oxford street you pass many window displays but at the height of luxury in the West End, no one does it quite as well as Selfridges & Co, with its gilded gold, Art Deco surrounding, and ornate columns beautifully framing the windows below.

selfridgesSelfridges London East Corner by Andrew Meredith

‘Bug’s Diner’ is definitely my favorite window at Selfridges this season, with pastel colours, neon signs, jukebox and bugs!? This strange and fun mix of classic 50s, brought together with large plastic bugs, is very disconcerting in a diner setting but is interesting and eye-catching, and adds an intriguing shock factor. The full swing skirts, matching twin sets and pastel rinse wigs really create a strong retro vibe. The mono colour blocks on the mannequins work well against the checkerboard tile effect background and chrome finishes:

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Alongside the diner window is the ‘Meet the Mixologist‘ window.  It’s part of the “Meet the Makers” promotion that Selfridges are hosting this season, enabling you to go along and meet the different personalities behind the making of the products, bars and restaurants that are within Selfridges. There are “live demonstrations, tours and tastings”. The ‘Meet the Mixologist’ window includes diffused pastel backdrops and neon lighting, with rotating ombres of liquor bottles screaming summer city party time:

mix-for-WEBIn complete contrast to these flirty and fun pastel tones and vibrant electric lights is the ‘Meet the Bakers‘ window display. The use of muted tones, bare wood and deep mint green bring a real feeling of comfort and authenticity, with freshly baked bread displayed in the window. Evocative touches are created by the left behind remnants of a customer – an umbrella, newspaper, coat, coffee cup and half eaten roll, reminding us of the simpler things in life:

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Meet the Distillery‘ is the story behind the making of gin, which is of course a big part of the summer party scene.  But this window is presented in a stripped back style – a gentlemen’s library, among which the distillery equipment is displayed in the middle along with the home comforts of an armchair, book cases and dog bed (which actually represents Darcy the Labrador’s bed, who belongs to the founders of Cambridge Distillery, Will Lowe and his wife Lucy). It’s a very personal scene that tells a story behind the product you’re buying into, and it’s very comforting and draws you in.

Gin-for-WEBAnother department store that has taken a look at “The Makers” is Harrods.  Their windows are currently dressed to show unfinished garments and accessories, showing the pattern work and construction which tells the story behind how and where the pieces are made:

undressed-for-WEBSome of the ‘Maker’ themed Harrods windows have a big focus on handbags, and there are also handbags that are showcased with graffiti scrawled across them and the mannequins:

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This graffiti theme is seen in lower end retail shops such as Topshop too, where splashes of colour decorate the surrounding surfaces of the window display. This look actually reminds me of Holi fest – the festival of colour, which was lots of fun this summer in London, throwing coloured chalk at one another!

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Our thanks to Lisa Le Peurian for sharing her store window story finds with us.

If you’re attending TISE East at Miami Beach and you’re interested in learning more about creating store window displays based around storytelling and trend themes, then join Phil & Victoria on their exciting 2 part Workshop on October 20th More details here HERE

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