Surface Design Show 2014 – London

On Wednesday 5th February (despite the chaos of the tube strikes!) I visited the Surface Design Show, at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. It’s the third year I’ve been to the show, and it’s always interesting to see what’s new in the world of Surface Design. Arguably, the University of Huddersfield and Somerset College’s stands were the most exciting with a range of students and graduates’ experimental work in a variety of specialisms. SCIN‘s innovative Material Library was also great; showing some of the most cutting-edge surfaces and materials for interior and architectural use. In no particular order, here are the photographs of 5 of my favourite pieces from the show:

1. Alusion

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Alusion create aluminium panels for interior and exterior use.The aluminium’s surface partially removed, using a patented blasting process. This creates the striking molten, cellular-like finish with a shimmering silver skin.

2. Caroline Hough

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Caroline is a Textile and Surface Designer from Somerset College, and I loved her experimental wood casting with concrete – the natural, raw materials looked particularly great with the contrasting gold metallic details.

3. Objects in Glass

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There was a definite abundance of glass at the show this year – but Objects in Glass’ work particularly caught my eye. They encase objects and materials inside glass – anything from skeleton leaves to mobile phone parts! I particularly liked the metal effects (Lustre-Glaze above) and, in contrast, the sheer woven fabrics.

4. Altfield

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I love Altfield’s beautifully textural textile wallcoverings – their use of everything from metal leaf, to silk fibres, to woven natural grasses are innovative, yet luxurious.

 5. Eden Anglo French

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This wood veneer merchant had an interesting range of decorative (both natural and engineered) veneers at the show and displayed a great use of colour.

 I’m looking forward to seeing what the Surface Design Show has to offer next year, during my final year at Huddersfield University!

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SURFACES, Las Vegas 2014 Show Review

vr seminarI’ve been back from the SURFACES show in Las Vegas for a week, and now I’m over the jet lag I’m ready to review the show and share my favourite finds with you.  It was our most successful involvement with the show to date – visitor numbers were fantastic, we had a big audience at our Trend Seminar (I’m the little dot at the front of the theater pictured left – photo courtesy of Christine Whittemore) and the Trends Hub was wonderfully well received.

This year’s Trends Hub had 2 linked themes – at one end we created a Library Snug with comfortable seating and the rest of the booth had a Museum mood with exhibitors samples displayed on large plinths under protective domes.  We wanted to create a space with a sense of ‘discovery’ to encourage visitors to be curious, explore the Hub and discover precious samples, secret displays and hidden information under display domes, inside plan chest drawers and tucked away on shelves in a museum-like space:

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Floor Focus magazine helped to make the Hub a reality via their sponsorship and Quick-Step generously sponsored the flooring laid throughout the Hub space … we selected the lovely rich tones of Malaysian Merbau from their Dominion Collection.  Thanks also go to Dotty Flamingo for making the laser cut ‘colour name’ necklaces that hung around the mannequins necks, and to Camira Fabrics for organising the special dye for the dresses which we used to communicate the key colours for 2014.  Adding the final touch of comfort were the book pillows kindly supplied by THRÕ.  Plus Catherine spent weeks prior to the show creating tiny installations inside glass domes commemorating events which had taken place 50 or 100 years ago – such patience!  And none of it would have been possible without Don & Frank who took on the mammoth task of building the Trends Hub from scratch, on site, in time for the show opening on January 28th:

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It’s been my privilege to lead the Trend Tour at SURFACES for the past 4 years running. Every year in advance of the show we visit the websites of all of the exhibitors and view their product ranges in order to make a selection of the most interesting, innovative, on-trend and top quality collections for inclusion.  With just 2 hours to walk our delegates around 2 huge halls we only have time to see the very best, and this year Phil shortlisted 10 stand-out exhibitors for us to visit.

From those 10 exhibitors I’ve selected my favourite 5 to share with you today … and we start with B.I.C Carpets.  It was a real pleasure to talk the Tour delegates through the inspiring range of high-quality carpets.  This year it was actually a tough task to select carpet manufacturers of real interest for the Tour.  It seemed that very little being launched was particularly different, stylish or significantly took into consideration design trends.  So we were relieved to discover that B.I.C Carpets were exhibiting because their in-house design team develop such great products.  Some of my favourites include EOS, MEDINA, STONE and LOGS (all pictured below):


I’m always keen that we don’t have the same exhibitors on the Tour year after year – I like to keep it fresh and interesting for the delegates and I don’t want to appear to be favouring anyone.  However Louis De Poortere were on the Tour 2 years ago and I included them again this year because their products are very relevant to Autumn/Winter 2014/15 trends and they also had some new products I wanted to be sure everyone got to see.  The new designs continued to explore the Vintage aesthetic that is the Louis De Poortere house style.  Taking design inspiration from the past can often result in ostentatious, extravagant design flourishes that simply aren’t palatable to most Western consumers right now.  So the look ideally needs to be pared-down a little via the fading of colors and distressing/erasing of pattern sections.  It’s a delicate balance to get right and achieving this is what Louis De Poortere are so mindful of and successful at.

The new Fading World rug collection (including a Medallion & Kilim design) came in a sumptuous variety of “once rich yet now faded colors” whilst the Cameo Collection (including reworkings of their Multi & Fedra designs, and the new Savonnerie design) came in a range of soft, antiqued pastels accentuated by the subtle sheen of chenille:

louisNow I’d like to show you a wall product from IndusParquet who are a family business based in São Paulo, Brazil with distribution centres around the world.  They are mainly involved in the production of hardwood flooring and have an extensive range of fabulous smooth & textured exotic woods.  I admire their responsible approach to manufacturing – they have adopted a zero-waste policy meaning 100% of all wood that enters the factory is used, and their floors feature in some amazing spaces around the world including The Vatican.  But I actually included them on the Tour because I love the design possibilities of their Wall Exotics collection which could make a striking feature in a hotel guest room, or in a bar, or even in a spa.  My favourite is the Brazilian Pecan!

indusBack to flooring now and the next exhibitor I wanted to mention is Glenn Carpet.  They were 1 of only a few companies on the Tour this year involved in the design and production of carpet and/or rugs.  They produce an extensive range of high-end rugs (all made to order) and work with a wonderful selection of fibers including bamboo, silk, flax and mohair.  I particularly liked the Damaskeen, Bella Floral, Woodgrain and Cordelia designs (all pictured below left to right):

glennMy 5th and final pick of SURFACES exhibitors is Homerwood who are a very special flooring company – every plank is truly fashioned by hand from premium quality hardwood with admirable attention to detail.  A genuine respect for the raw material and celebration of its qualities takes place in their workshops & manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania and I love this level of skill and pride.Their flooring is crafted from the entire tree and beautifully preserves and reveals all of the trees natural characteristics.  Their Amish Hand-Scraped collection is the perfect example of their passion & pride – local Amish artisans in Pennsylvania hand-scrape every plank in this collection to create a hand-crafted floor.

My main reason for including them on the Tour (and in this post) relates to their Smoked Specialties.  Again this collection is very much created by hand – they use a hand smoking technique to achieve the dramatic, rich, dark effect on the wood (that you can see pictured below right).  I was fascinated to learn the technique involves gently ‘flaming’ the wood, 1 board at a time, and the heat from the open flame caramelises the natural sugars in the sapwood creating the distinctive shadowed look:


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Pop-Up Bar, Brussels

Last week we were in Brussels presenting trends to the lovely Sappi team, and on our last night in the city they treated us to a celebratory glass of champagne at a pop-up bar on Place Stephanie … what better way to end a successful business trip!

1476442_10152022221361066_721036575_nThe ‘Toast For A Cause’ Moet Chandon bar in aid of the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ was only there from 5-7th December and we were lucky enough to see it on the opening day whilst it was all pristine.  The theme was ‘alpine lodge chic’ – wall mounted stag trophy heads; fur upholstered stools; hide rugs; stacked-up logs either side of a fireplace; oversized bare lightbulbs; wooden bench seats; golden champagne goblets; gold & black Moet Chandon Christmas baubles; and a long table full of glass domes!


Although there was a power cut that stopped the DJ in his tracks, and torrential rain and gales made us fear the entire marquee was going to be lifted up and blown across Europe, are spirits were not dampened and we all enjoyed our pre-dinner drink before heading to Rouge Tomate.  Thank you to everyone at Sappi for a very enjoyable trip.


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