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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  21 Apr 2010

MARKETING: Decorex Opens To Great Expectations


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Decorex Cape Town opens its doors in the Mother City on Friday 23rd April, marking its 12th year with the optimistic theme ‘Breath of Fresh Air’.

Held in association with Plascon as main sponsor and DStv as media partner, Decorex Cape Town will once again show trade visitors and consumers why Cape Town is hailed as the country’s hub for innovative design. More than 340 local and international exhibitors will show their products and services to the 35 000 visitors expected.

2010 signals the beginning of a new decade of design, says Melanie Robinson, show director of Decorex SA. “Great timing, as the global attention is firmly on our country. All eyes are on our abilities to host lovers of the beautiful game, providing a showcase for our country’s creative talent and its people’s legendary hospitality.”

Cape Town in particular is a natural to host design-focused exhibitions such as Decorex, she adds. “The city has what it takes to be a major player in the international decor and design exhibition industry, from its natural beauty to good infrastructure and easy international access. It has also distinguished itself as a hub for innovative design, with a wealth of creative talent to support the growth of the local design industry.”

Carol Weaving, Business Women of the Year 2009 and managing director of Thebe Exhibitions & Projects, organisers of Decorex SA, shares this confidence: “South Africa has some of the most creative people in the world.  We are definitely at the forefront of the design industry, with the unique ability to combine international, cutting edge design with homegrown elements. This can only bode well for the future.”

While consumers retain their shopping habits acquired during the economic downswing, Robinson is very optimistic about the show’s potential to stimulate growth of the region’s home retail and manufacturing sector. “Consumers shop around significantly more and are very discerning when making purchasing decisions. Whether it is high-ticket items and investment pieces or smaller appliances and decor items, they insist on quality at the best possible price. That’s why exhibitors at Decorex Cape Town will combine expert advice, upmarket quality and decor inspiration with great value and special show offers.”

While tough competition from the global market place is a reality for many of the local exhibitors, Decorex believes the South African design industry can face the flow of imports from the East and big brand names from the West through the quality of its design and manufacturing.

The homegrown design brands at Decorex are inspiring role models who make us extremely optimistic about the future, despite the pinch.” Robinson cites the granite company L.Cannata & Sons Cape, one of the country’s oldest stonemasons celebrating its centenary, as an example of what can be achieved by adapting to a changing environment and consumer requirements.

The quality of finalists in the Western Cape Furniture Design Competition is another shining example of the region’s creative potential. This competition of the Western Cape Furniture Initiative (WCFI) promotes design as one of the key tools for a furniture manufacturer to gain competitive edge and stimulate economic growth, both locally and internationally. The theme LIVE seek to inspire a creative take on furniture forming part of living environments, such as tables, chairs, couches, beds used in indoor and outdoor living spaces. The competition is presented by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, in conjunction with the Forestry Industry Education and Training Authority, the Bargaining Council for the Furniture Manufacturing Industry of the Western Cape, and the Furniture Technologies Training Centre in Cape Town.

Being in tune with the economic climate is as vital for the decor exhibition industry as it is to be informed about design trends. According to Robinson the role of Decorex is to interpret trends – reading the signs of the times and then providing a platform for it to be played out. “The theme coming on strong is ‘simple’, ‘back-to-basics and a new form of minimalism: getting by with what we have.”

While factors such as the recession and more mindful living may have contributed to a slowing down of trends, the interest in new design directions and innovation is livelier than ever, she adds. “People are curious by nature; we love the novel and the new and are intrigued by what lies on the design horizon. That’s why we put huge effort into the overall show design, added new business concepts and special activities.”

Innovative experiences include the indulgent relaxation area – the ‘Love Chocolate Lounge’, as well as the Pick n Pay Fresh Living Kitchen. “Adding a chocolate-inspired eating area as well the food demonstration kitchen taps in on the ‘homedulging’ trend of people looking for affordable ways to treat themselves and their homes. In uncertain times consumers need comfort spaces as much as comfort food.”

According to Cairey Slater, general manager: exhibitions, ethical consumerism is another major influence. “Green, with all that it entails has gone mainstream and waste is becoming the ultimate sin. The Pick n Pay Green Living House, in association with makes its debut at the show with a five-roomed house fitted with green-vetted products from over 60 eco-caring suppliers.”

This year Decorex Cape Town will also sponsor the planting of 55 trees to help offset its carbon footprint. “This is one small step in Decorex SA’s extensive drive aimed at making our exhibitions zero waste events – from reducing and recycling packaging and re-use of materials such as banners to eco-friendly printing and green breathing spaces throughout the exhibition.  The green process also entails the types of show lighting used, the automatic switching off of lights outside show hours, using recyclable material for stands, and educating exhibitors on waste prevention.”

Forging links with business partners in a wide range of related fields, from tourism and hospitality to 2010 Fine Arts are vital to the growth of the exhibition. The 2010 African Fine Art Collection returns to Decorex Cape Town with the first ever public viewing of “The 2010 Stadium Collection” – a series of iconic fine art photographic images of the 2010 World CupTM stadiums in South Africa’s Host Cities captured through the lens of local fine art photographer Dennis Guichard. The 2010 Fine Art project is a groundbreaking South African venture which brings together leading contemporary artists from around the world in one of the largest international fine art collaborations in history – celebrating the hosting of the world’s most-watched sporting event on African soil. 

A carefully selected group of items from the Department of Trade and Industry’s South African Handmade Collection will be on display, ranging from baskets woven from grass or recycled plastic, high-design handmade ceramic gallery pieces to functional ware and fabrics. This project brings the crafter a step closer to becoming a successful local entrepreneur and exporter.

Other business concepts at the show include Conversations on Architecture, a one-day seminar with high-level industry talks by prominent local and international architects, convened by Les Aupiais and sponsored by CaesarStone. Themed ‘Building for a breath of fresh air’, the conference looks at design inspiration taken nature taken to the next level through modern science, technology and fresh thinking.

Decorex Cape Town also applies its creative approach to fund-raising. This year’s ‘pet project’ is Home Tweet Home in support of Little Angels whose aim it is to provide a place of safety for babies and children. Well-known designers taking part include John Autard, Wilja Reitz of Decadence Boutique, David Straus Interiors, Esther Schumacher of, Katie Thompson of Recreate, Maarten Peutz of Professional Home Services, as well as the decor magazines Conde Nast House & Garden, Elle Decoration and Visi. Their designer-birdhouses will be displayed at the shows to raise awareness for the work done by Little Angels. All proceeds from designer birdhouse sales will benefit this charity.

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