Showroom manager of Halcyon Interiors Graham Robinson offers his view of the trade exhibition and said the kitchen suppliers set out to impress
Overall kbb Birmingham was positive. It was definitely better than two years ago, as 2016 felt okay but this year there was definitely a better impact and it felt busier.
The vibe was more upbeat and there wasn’t anybody moaning about the industry.
I did chat to a lot of people and it was nice to see them and reconnect. It is a good place to see and be seen.
There was a lot of talk about the show in the lead up to the event. It’s probably because social media use has moved on from what it was two years’ ago. But there was definitely more hype up to the show and more excitement.
Did it match my expectations? To be honest, I think I may have been more surprised if I didn’t see lots of pictures of product launches before I went.
I think social media, perhaps, gave away too much before we had even got there. In some ways it stole the thunder of people launching anything new, as you had already seen it.
Wonder of worktops
But when I got to the kitchen hall it was an impressive. There also seemed to be more participation from a range of manufacturers this year.
The exhibitors on the front row of the entrance obviously put an effort into the stands, especially the stone manufacturers.
But one of things I came away thinking, it was really good to see large stone displays. Obviously we get all the samples and see pictures but it is unusual to see the whole slab.
It was really good to see full slabs of Silestone, CRL and Caesarstone because we can relay it to our clients and explain how, from a little sample, the rest of the pattern looks.
So we can say, for example, that concrete is really lovely because it goes from shades of light to dark and it’s got a bit of interest in it, or that vein looks really natural and not like it’s been printed on to the stone. Also, if you are choosing displays, it’s good to see a whole slab.
I know we can go to the manufacturers and see the slabs but they’re not just down the road.
We probably spend more time with clients, talking about worktops than we do kitchen cupboards and appliances.
It’s the first thing you see going into a kitchen. It’s what you touch and feel. It’s what you work on.
I think the worktop manufacturers are also pushing to the end consumer.People have heard of the brands now.
Although we knew about the 1810 Axis seamless technology sink, it was good to see it in the flesh.
We also saw the Tandoor-I oven and I really liked it. They came into us a long time ago and I really liked the idea but I hadn’t physically seen it until the show. It was a small stand but it did the job.
Concept kitchen The Rock by Colin Wong was a bit different and I think it makes you think about what you can do with different materials.
Kitchens can get quite restricted to boxes, with sleek linear lines, because that’s what German furniture manufacturers do. I think it added some hype to the show.
I thought it may be a bigger feature idea but it didn’t have to be huge to show the concept of it and it gave the show a bit of difference as it hadn’t featured anything like that before.
Importance of UK
The European shows are impressive and manufacturers can show more because the stands are bigger. But there seems to be a trend of coming out of the shows as well, because a lot of the brands aren’t showing at Salone del Mobile but are part of a series of events in their showrooms.
I think it is important to have a UK show because a lot of our staff can go and see new things.
You definitely felt welcomed on the stands at kbbBirmingham, with exhibitors proud of their stands and proud of their products