Editor Philippa Turrell offers her thoughts on the May Design Series
I so desperately wanted to love the May Design Series. Last year it promised so much. Then it was a new show concept, targeting the architecture and design community, with a flamboyant appearance and a youthful exuberance. In what had been a tough preceding 12 months, it was an exposed, filament bulb – of hope.
Our verdict, then, was although this was a design show, if it was to have a dedicated bathroom and kitchen section then it needed to have a greater representation of brands. And this year, the bathroom and kitchen ‘district’ did appear to have more kitchen and bathroom exhibitors. But in a bid to swell numbers, it had seemingly lost out on some of its show curation, which was a pity for the manufacturers that had bought into the original high-end concept.
In fact, as a whole, the show was bigger…much bigger…with the addition of the former Interiors Show and now taking up both sides of Excel. But if a show is to take a European-size space, then it needs to deliver an audience in the same proportions. The May Design Series didn’t.
What should have looked like carefully-crafted, open spaces, to provide viewpoints across the show, resembled a wanton (if not beautifully designed) wasteland. Visitors were sparsely scattered, all of which made the pace of footfall across the three-day event slow, and the energy of the event was quashed. That was apart from the Conversation Series, which was bustling with bodies. But no sooner had these sessions ended, they dissipated into the volumes of the halls.
Or were there just a lot less people attending? Did the unseasonably hot weather mean an exhibition hall wasn’t appealing for visitors? Or is there just too much competition with exhibitions, this year, with Salone Del Mobile in Milan and kbbBirmingham only being held just weeks before the show and Clerkenwell Design Week starting on the show’s final day?
The May Design Series seems to be like a band working on their tricky second album…finding their feet and identity. Basically it’s still a work in progress. But it needs some serious consultation, with the kitchen and bathroom industries involved, to make sure it’s hitting the right notes and delivering on its promises.