A guide to the UK furniture shows of 2019
The UK is home to a wealth of furniture and furnishings trade shows, from regional and buying group fairs to all-encompassing exhibitions and inspirational design platforms. In this article, Furniture News presents a handy round-up of the furniture fixtures taking place across the nation this year …
Top Drawer, encompassing Home, Craft, Fashion and Gift sectors, kicks off the proceedings at London’s Olympia from 13-15th. This year’s winter edition promises more than 1500 fresh names and brands, arranged across 11 curated sectors, plus networking and seminar programme, RetailFest.
The AIS buying group then opens the doors of its Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Shirley, Solihull to the retail trade for the AIS Furniture Show from 20th-22nd, following two days of private trading for the buying group’s members. This small yet hospitable fair will feature several exclusive exhibitors and ranges.
Just up the road from Solihull is the Birmingham NEC, home to the UK’s biggest furniture trade event, the January Furniture Show. Running from 20th-23rd January across halls 1-5 of the exhibition centre, this show offers visitors an unrivalled selection of furniture. It has expanded to encompass 500 exhibitors this year, plus new zones dedicated to lighting and beds.
Later in the month, Scottish show North Point returns to Edinburgh’s Highland Hall from 27-29th.
The expansive Spring Fair will dominate the Birmingham NEC from 3rd-7th, with the Volume hall opening a day beforehand. This home and gift extravaganza comprises everything from furniture, homewares and gifts to stationery and jewellery across 16 sectors, plus a plethora of talks and workshops that have retail best practice in mind.
Due to a fixture clash, the London Fabric Show, organised by the BFM, returns to Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge, London at the later date this year of 4-5th March, promises manufacturers of upholstery, beds and soft furnishings the latest on-trend textiles from numerous national and international suppliers.
Fabrics are also the key focus of the Irish Interiors Showcase, taking place from 4-5th at the Hilton Templepatrick, Belfast.
The SWFMARF’s regional South West Bed Show is back at Sedgemoor Auction Centre in Somerset from 2nd-3rd April, while AIS members are invited to return to Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre from 9-10th for the private AIS Bed and Bedroom Show.
Spring Long Point is back in an earlier slot this year, running from 29th April to 1st May. Held in permanent and temporary showrooms around the Derbyshire town of Long Eaton (but focused on the central Harrington Mill) the show is an opportunity to engage with some of the UK’s finest upholstery and cabinet manufacturers, and more.
Pulse promises trendy homewares and fashion products when it returns to London’s Olympia from 12-14th, while the Minerva Furniture Group’s members will be invited to explore the latest offers from preferred suppliers at its Furniture and Bed Show, held at the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, from 14-15th.
Later, design-focused event Clerkenwell Design Week will bring life to showrooms in the London district from 21st-23rd through special installations, exhibitions and fringe events. Meanwhile, The Linens Show, hosted by AIS, will run from 21st-23rd (members only on the first day) at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull.
AIS opens Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre again for another private members’ show, this time dedicated to furniture – the private AIS Furniture Show takes place from 25-26th. Shortly theareafter, the first phase of New Designers, a lively showcase of young designers which serves as a launchpad to the industry, commences at Islington’s Business Design Centre, running from 26-29th.
Phase 2 of New Designers (which incorporates furniture) runs from 3rd-6th at the Business Design Centre in Islington.
Next is Solex, the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association’s exhibition, which returns to the Birmingham NEC from 9-11th to present a complement of garden furniture and barbecues, while Home & Gift Harrogate brings interiors products, giftware and fashion goods to the Harrogate Convention Centre in North Yorkshire from 14-17th.
This month sees the UK’s second-largest furniture show, the Manchester Furniture Show, return to Manchester Central from 14-16th. Organised by the same team as the January Furniture Show, this is the summer’s key furniture trade event, and gives retailers the opportunity to source new products and range updates in a relaxed environment while enjoying the city’s attractions (if they get the chance!).
Whilst outside the UK, the Irish Furniture & Homewares Show is a notable fixture. The regional event is set to return to Dublin’s National Show Centre from 24-27th.
As always, September is teeming with exhibitions. Autumn Fair is up first, back in the Birmingham NEC from 1st-4th, offering a smaller but well-defined counterpart to Spring Fair, and featuring a good complement of lighting, furniture and Christmas accessories.
On the 4th, AIS opens Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull, for its private AIS Bed Show, while the year’s second Top Drawer show returns to London’s Olympia from 8-10th, and outdoor exhibition Glee is back at the Birmingham NEC from 10-12th.
Also running from 10-12th is the South West Furniture Show, an enduring agent-run event, held at Sedgemoor Auction Centre, North Petherton, Somerset.
Halfway through the month, the focus returns to the capital, as London Design Festivalruns from 14th-22nd, featuring a host of creative events that reinforce the global significance of the UK as a design hub. Events running this week include 100% Design, taking place at London’s Olympia from 18th-21st; London Design Fair, featuring Tent/Super Brands London, held at the Old Truman Brewery from 19th-22nd; and DesignJunction, also from 19th-22nd on the South Bank.
In the same week, there’s also the UK’s main bed industry event, the Bed Show, running from 17-18th at The International Centre, Telford. This popular exhibition features new beds, bedmaking machinery and components, and a gala dinner at the end of the first day.
The 2019 Autumn Long Point, which sees Long Eaton’s finest open their showrooms again following the spring event, has been pushed back in 2019 to run from 23rd-25th September.
Minerva’s Autumn Furniture Show, takes place at the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, from 1st-2nd October. Unlike the buying group’s event earlier in the year, this show is open to the general trade, and promises plentiful buying opportunities ahead of the peak sales season.
Following a four-year run at Syon Park, high-end retail showcase Decorex Internationalrelocates to London’s Olympia this year, in the later timeslot of 6-9th October, while design enthusiasts should note The Furniture Makers Company’s Young Furniture Makersexhibition, a celebration of student craft, held at the Dutch Church and Furniture Makers’ Hall in Austin Friars, London, on 9th October.
Finally, AIS’ The Linens Show returns for a second outing from 29th-31st (members only on day one) at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull.
Anyone interested in visiting these shows should check the official show websites before attending and pre-register when possible, as many events are taking a stricter approach to visitor verification. A full calendar of national and international events can be found on the Furniture News website, together with interviews with organisers, details of special features, exhibitor and visitor views and new products.
By Paul Farley