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The Surface Design Show 2009 UNCOVERED!

The Surface Design Show has established itself as a must-see event for architects, designers and specifiers through its offer of the latest innovations in design for interior and exterior surface products, informative seminars and thought provoking talks by the leading names in the architecture and design industry.

The 2009 edition of the event was the most impressive to date with dozens of new exhibitors, bigger than ever international presence, latest product launches, features and controversial debates featuring the RIBA President and a special keynote address by famed designer Sebastian Conran.

With 79% of the 4,301 visitors being architects, designers and specifiers, including top worldwide architectural practices such as Gensler, HOK, Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster & Partners and Alsop Architects, the Surface Design Show has cemented its position as a ‘must see’ event in the industry calendar.

VIP Preview Evening

The sixth annual Surface Design Show opened with the popular VIP Preview Evening which featured a special RIBA Building Futures live debate chaired by RIBA President Sunand Prasad. The debate focused on the controversial subject of whether or not there is a place for professional ethics for architects in the new global economy. A passionate, and at times contentious, debate broke out between the evening’s four speakers, Irena Bauman, Indy Johar, Nicholas Ray and James Woudhuysen.

James and Irena supported the house’s stand that professional ethics are outdated with the advent of globalisation – albeit from drastically differing viewpoints. James felt that “sustaina-babble” had diverted the attention of architects from excelling at their true calling, which is to build big and impressive buildings, while Irena felt that professional ethics needed to be a personal issue where architects, and ultimately the communities in which their buildings would reside, benefited from the idea that working ethically led to their own personal well-being.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Indy took up the opposing argument, with Indy stressing that professional ethics were at the core of everything that architects did. He stated that the existing codes of conduct are too focused on how architects deal with clients economically rather than where the emphasis should be, which is on how the buildings they are designing interacts with both the present and future communities they will exist in.

Ultimately, the final decision was put to the audience of nearly 200 people who determined, by a commanding two-thirds majority, that ethics still have a major role to play in the working lives of architects.

Gala Evening

The following night’s Gala evening was highlighted by an insightful presentation by the multi-award winning designer Sebastian Conran, which encouraged all designers to remember the importance of authenticity in the materials they design, manufacture and specify.

Sebastian presented a history of Studio Conran designs covering four decades through to his current projects and went in-depth to show how the smallest detail can affect an end-users enjoyment of a product. Sebastian has worked with a number of the world’s leading surface manufacturers, including exhibitor ege carpets, whose Conran-designed Visual Textures range was launched at the 2007 Surface Design Show.

Sustainability

Sustainability was at the core of many of the exhibitors’ new products and these were showcased within the new Green Surfaces zone. A number of exhibitors, including Forbo Flooring, Hera Designs and Muraspec, displayed their latest selections of materials that were both environmentally friendly and visually inspiring.

Alongside the Green Surfaces materials on display, BRE presented The Green Guide Theatre - a series of presentations which provided a background to The Green Guide to Specification and focused on particular surfaces to examine in detail their environmental performance.

New exhibitors and products

With nearly 40 UK and international companies making their debut in 2009, visitors experienced the latest designs by a number of the industry’s most dynamic manufacturers including Twentinox – Dutch leader in metal; Mapei - worldwide leader in adhesive and sealants; and Ceramiche Caesar – Italian market leader in ceramic tiles.

Solid surfacing specialist Durat exhibited at the Surface Design Show for the first time and showed off their range of ecological solid surface materials that contain approximately 30% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable. Leeuwenburgh launched ‘the selection’ - a new collection of captivating wood veneers which add a contemporary take on traditional hardwood flooring; while the Swedish flooring specialists Bolon launched Twilight, a collection of shimmering woven metallic floors. Geaves Surface Solutions introduced four of its latest display finishes and products for the retail industry – Wave, Domino, Vibrazioni and Luxury.

Other show favourites who launched their latest designs included Mykon, specialists in partitioning who introduced three new product ranges - Alucolite, Stratolite and Ciottolli. Graniti Fiandre, one of the world’s leading producers of high end porcelain floor and wall tiles, introduced its two latest ranges to the UK market – Jewel and Light Shape.

The 2010 Surface Design Show, organised by Montgomery Exhibitions, will be held from 16-18th February at the Business Design Centre.

Email: jasond@thinktank.org.uk


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