Spring Fair 2011 review

Held at the NEC, Birmingham, the Spring Fair­ is the biggest UK retail trade show. Over 3,000 exhibitors displayed their products throughout 17 halls across 12 different sectors including kitchen, dining and housewares, art and framing, floral supplies and gadgets. This year an impressive 300,000 new products were launched.
The Spring Fair is a valuable resource for sourcing those all important decorative accessories such as; artwork, vases, artificial flowers, sculptures, table ware and kitchen and bathroom gadgets.

The atmosphere in the Halls this year was bustling and optimistic with suppliers who were both excited and motivated by the vast array of innovate goods displayed.“This year is extremely busy, I think it’s the best ever show” enthused Director Sarah Watts of premium gift ware company Penny Kennedy. “The snow has been a nightmare in previous years putting buyers off but we’re lucky this year.” When quizzed regarding the vat increase she responded, “Many suppliers have chosen to absorb the new rate, therefore maintaining 2010’s retail prices. We haven’t seen any noticeable drop in sales so far this year.”
Four key trends were apparent throughout the various sectors. 
·         Pure:  Understated, precision engineered, functional products. Often manufactured from stainless steel, glass, neoprene, ceramic, bamboo and silicone. Blomus and Eva Solo are fine examples of this style.
Bird Feeder and Tea Bag from Eva Solo www.evasolo.com
A selection of products From Blomus. Precision engineered stainless steel combined with ceramic and bamboo www.blomus.com
·         Colourful:  Kitchenware manufacturers have continued to develop the trend for brightly coloured products. Silicone remains very popular; proving to be an inspiring material for product designers who continue to explore and utilise its many useful technical properties.  Fusion Brands; the company responsible for the best selling ‘Poach Pod’, Lekue and Uutensil, amongst others, have developed impressive ranges with imaginative uses of this versatile material.
‘Steam Case’ from Lekue; a revolutionary, simple device for steaming food in conventional or microwave ovens www.lekue.es
The innovative, reusable ‘Food Loop’ from Fusion Brands www.fusionbrands.com
Re-colouring is a successful way to gain media attention and revitalize existing designs. Classic Spanish coffee machine manufacturer Ascaso has boldly revamped several of ­its product ranges in keeping with this trend; Eye catching, unexpected and very popular.
 The ‘Dream Up’ Professional coffee machines from Ascaso www.ascaso.com
·        Vintage:  Home wares referring to fashions and brands of bygone times are proving as popular as ever. Aside from the somewhat trite motivational wartime slogans and Union Jacks there is still a charming quality to this trend when executed with quality and integrity.
Wild and Wolf are attracting substantial attention with their award winning Scrabble range; one of their latest collections which slots in very comfortably with their other successfully licensed products featuring iconic images from amongst others, Penguin, Ladybird and Mr Men books. www.wildandwolf.com
Multi award winning company Penny Kennedy, licences patterns for gift packaging from celebrity designers including Orla Kiely, Ella Doran, Nina Campbell and Neisha Crosland. These high profile creatives have all developed their names into highly successful brands; developing styles inspired by vintage patterns and imagery. Above is the Iconic signature pattern by the popular Orla Kiely. www.pennykennedy.co.uk
Tala is a brand that will be familiar to many of us bringing back long forgotten childhood memories. Below are two of their many iconic products currently in production.

Cutting Edge:  High concept products designed for trend hungry consumers were very popular this year. The following ideas are from a selection of successful companies that specialise in this field.
Below is ‘Apron Cooking Guide’ which speaks for itself.
Both of these products are from ‘Suck UK’ www.suck.uk.com
Float magazine rack, an innovative, unique and practical product for displaying, storing and organising magazines. www.j-me.co.uk
Dance legend Deadmau5 has developed into a phenomenally successful brand that is graphic, innovative and cutting edge. Teenage bedrooms can be difficult to theme, so why not add some edgy style with this super cool collection of collectible miniatures. www.weloveodd.com
The spring fair was an inspiring, encouraging exhibition, packed with fascinating products from suppliers showing a refreshingly buoyant attitude in today’s often gloomy commercial marketplace. It’s always advisable to arrive early and wear comfortable shoes as it is a huge exhibition that you won’t want to leave.

James Pilling: Interior Design Practice Manager, NDA Private Clients gives a round up of this year’s notable trends and inspiring products. NDA Private Clients is a multi award winning commercial Interior Design practice affiliated to The National design Academy, a centre of excellence for interior design; please visit www.ndaprivateclients.co.uk for information.

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