Last month I visited Interiors UK – an event dedicated to furniture and interiors. I’ve actually been before when I was a business magazine editor, in another life but after I was invited by Neville Johnson, I thought it would be super fun to go for a wander, this time as a homeowner, ready to absorb new ideas and talk to brands I may not have discovered yet. After all, I’ve got the best part of a whole house which needs decorating! My memories of the show were fond ones, and I was excited to return.
I think the easiest way I can talk about the day is through a Compliment Sandwich. You know the one I mean? Compliments are the bread in this butty, with the “room for improvement” let’s say as the filling. So let’s begin…
The first thing that I absolutely loved about the show was the variety. I suppose that’s obvious with a show that size, but there really was something for everyone – even someone as picky as me. You had your standard high quality oak tables, your fine soft leather sofas, and extravagant garden sheds that any man-cave driven husband (like mine) would swoon over. But then, you had the more unusual items, and for various budgets, too which I welcomed. I found so many things I loved actually, many of which I’ve already talked about on this blog (am I a trendsetter or what? ;)) Items such as brick-patterned wallpaper, pastel wooden furniture, grey dressers, reclaimed crates, stag branch chandeliers, iron cast metal ornaments, LED decorative trees and comic book artwork that I think would fill my house if Joe ever won the lottery. All of it just screamed out to me. If you are ever stuck for inspiration, go go go.
Now onto my criticism. Have you noticed I haven’t got any pictures of these amazing items?
I was hoping to take loads of images. Not just for this blog, although those were the circumstances why I was initially there. But I also wanted to show Joe so we could make a decision on some future purchases. In fact, had I have found a dining table I wanted – and I saw 2 or 3 major contenders – the plan was to message a picture to Joe and buy, buy, buy! After all, these shows can often give good discounts if you’re a smooth talker.
Within 5 minutes of arriving I was pulled to one side and told categorically that no photography was permitted within the venue. Actually, I’m probably being a bit too kind there. I was belittled by a rude exhibit attendant, who made me feel as if I was the paparazzi trying to catch him with his knickers down. Whilst I did explain why I was there, this ‘gent’ told me to simply put it away or leave. And the same for my smartphone camera. I could have perhaps gotten over this, if I hadn’t then seen others with their long lens DSLR cameras also taking pictures. I felt this was inconsistent and unfair. I have complained to the N.E.C – where it was hosted – but thankfully, by what I can see online from other bloggers, this seems to be an isolated experience. I’m glad of that, but it really did put me off and ruined the day somewhat for me.
But enough of the negative! What else did I love? Let’s finish off this here sandwich…
Well I loved something I overheard at a seminar – Consumers don’t want big brands anymore. They want to connect with their furniture and to the businesses they give their money to.
I know typically the seminars are there for the likes of designers and brands, but it just resonated with me completely. And to the brands I spoke to on the day, they were nice, they were friendly, and they were interested in my story. My renovation journey. And I wanted to know about them. What their values are. The reasoning behind their costings. I don’t want to just throw money at a problem and get something shipped from God-knows-where. I want to support local business. I’d like value for money. And where I can, I want to be eco-friendly. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.
There was a real uniformity of this new message which I liked. A few years ago, I felt the shows were hugely designer-led. They still are of course and they’ll always have a place. But this isn’t within everyone’s reach and with a new flair for, personality, quirkiness, and transparency, I think the show had gone up a notch since I last visited.
I’d love to see what everyone else thought of the show, and hey, if you’ve got any images, throw them my way so I can show the hubby.