Bringing great design to the surface at Surface Design Show

BY: Alice Finney

Last week, the Business Design Centre which is located in the hipster ends of east London (otherwise known as Islington), played host to Surface Design Show. Now over ten years old, the show featured 170 exhibitors showing off their interior and exterior surfaces. A seminar programme also ran alongside the exhibition, giving visitors the opportunity to get clued up on the emerging trends and game changers in the industry. The three-day event not only showcased some of the best surface designs but also saw lighting designers and journalists come together to network and discuss.

Magenta went along on the last day of the show which saw an interview given by the winner of the Surface Design show 2017, a presentation of the latest materials used in the education sector and a talk on the relationship between cultural identity and surface design.

Especially visible this year was the vast amount of biophillic surfaces. Living walls, dyed mosses and green shrubbery were omnipotent. The desire for green offices has finally filtered down into the surface industry and it has been welcomed with open arms. Stands with plant based surfaces attracted the biggest crowds, with people eager to find out about the health benefits and popularity of such designs and textures.

The stand which really captured my attention and admiration however, was the Bay Gallery Home stand. Tucked away on the upper level and in a corner of the design centre, this stand was filled with tiles and rugs replete with wonderful colours and patterns. Having chatted to the employees at the stand there, I found that there was much more behind the patterns. They were all made and designed by Aboriginal artists and each had an individual story surrounding them, stories intrinsically linked to the land, family and nature.

For me, the stand out talk of the day was given by Ariane Steinbeck of RPW, entitled “A sense of place? Cultural Identity and Hospitality Design”. Steinbeck drew on her personal experiences, of living across different continents, of designing for different cultures and customers to provide us with an in-depth, personalised seminar.

Starting off with a brief history of hotels, from inns to the Hilton, Steinbeck then went on to explain the difficulties with designing in new countries where people have different expectations and tastes. She explored the need for guest rooms need to reflect their locations and by extension, how all surfaces need to incorporate culture. Ultimately, she stressed, good hospitality design is a fusion of brand, cultural identity and location.

Alice Finney