With a deliberately unsubtle undertone of sustainability and drive towards reusable materials, Surface Design Show 2022 took place inside London’s Business Design Centre – and received an overwhelming response from both visitors and exhibitors. “It was spectacular,” writes editor Hamish Kilburn…
The 2022 edition of Surface Design Show was, for many reasons, the best one yet! More than 160 exhibitors showcased the best in sustainable materials, with almost 5,000 architects, designers and specifiers (and one or two design editors) visiting over the two and half days to explore the latest trends, materials and conversations around sustainable solutions in surface design.
Once again, the show attracted a high-quality audience. 84 per cent of visitors worked in the architecture and design sector and 73 per cent have direct purchasing authority. Reflecting the cancellation or postponement of exhibitions over the last 24-months; 69 per cent of the audience came to source new products and 50 per cent were looking to discover new design trends.
The overriding theme of the show ‘Sense of Place’ which looked at putting humanity and the planet’s wellbeing at the heart of all decision making, was first introduced at The Opening Night Debate.
Held in partnership with RIBA, Climate Change and Future Proofing featured a stellar line up of industry experts. The passionate session hosted by Simon Sturgis, Founder of Targeting Zero brought together a younger generation of architects, designers and clients. They not only explored the issues around the future durability and adaptability of current projects, but also how we ensure that the commercial value of projects can be future proofed against climate change.
The debate continued as the stage was taken over by Interior Design Declares, a new association that has formed by a number of interior designers in response to the climate change emergency. Moderating this panel – and amplifying the individuals who are really making a difference with a disruptive approach to sustainability in design – left the audience emotionally charged, demanding change, which indeed was one of my highlights of the show.
Carrying on with the theme Sense of Place, many of the exhibitors brought new products to the show, which were both innovative and sustainable.
Among them was James Latham, one of the UK’s leading distributors of timber, panels and decorative surfaces, which hosted a variety of premium material brands, and unveiled a range of new exclusives including: Honext recycled panels, Dekodur decorative laminates and Studio Collection solid surfaces. The team also revealed a brace of new innovations, include its proprietary Carbon Calculator, which is an academically researched tool that grades specific timber’s sustainability credentials, helping specifiers understand how green their chosen material is.
Meanwhile, The Good Plastic Company showcased sustainable panels from 100 per cent recycled plastic, Wonderwall Studios had stunning wall panels made from salvaged wood, whilst Armourcoat launched its new natural clay lime plaster, Clime.
Visitors could not leave the exhibition hall without first exploring the Stone Tapestry, a moodboard-like installation designed by Squire & Partners that highlighted the use, applications and reuse of natural stone.
In line with the show’s theme of sustainability, this year Stone Tapestry focused on locality, and showcased some of the impressive materials quarried in the UK – tapping into the ongoing conversation around using natural stone to deliver a more sustainable built environment.
One of the standout trends of the show, Bio Magic, looked at how biodegradable ingredients continue to offer sustainable solutions with developments in colour dyeing and recycling processes, bringing new alternatives to the table using food waste.
Wildman & Bugby brought ecology leather to the show, which uses Olivenleder, a biodegradable tanning agent made using the fallen leaves of the Mediterranean olive harvest. Meanwhile Johnson Tan, one of 32 New Talents at the Show, created surfaces using food waste including eggshells and coffee to achieve delicate, subtle and translucent materials.
Indeed, one of the most visited and exciting areas of the show was the New Talent section. Surface Design Show is committed to supporting and promoting up and coming designers in the materials sector. Sponsored by Canon UK and curated by Jennifer Castoldi, the 2022 show saw more than 30 participants display a range of sophisticated and innovative designs from textile designs to augmented reality to 3D tiles, including Best in British Design winner from The Brit List Awards 2021 The Monkey Puzzle Tree. A recurring theme among many participants this year was the use of natural materials and dyes.
Among the 160 exhibitors the Italian Trade Agency in conjunction with Confindustria Marmomacchine presented a pavilion of 28 companies representing the Italian stone industry. Showcasing new, innovative and luxury materials including stunning white marble from Elite Stone, Limestone from Fato Stone and porphyry natural stone from Avisio Porfidi Srl representing the best of Made in Italy.
There was also a comprehensive talks programme, which included more than 50 speakers from a range of design backgrounds. New for 2022 was the Legends Live sessions which saw industry leaders interviewing someone in or connected to the industry. The pairings included lighting designer Sally Storey being interviewed by Theresa Dowling, editor of FX Magazine, Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden in conversation with myself and AHMM’s Paul Monaghan talking to Phil Coffey of Coffey Architects as the interviewees discussed their illustrious careers to date.
Winners of the 2022 Surface Design Awards were announced at a breakfast ceremony on the last day of the Show, where the BAFTA headquarters in London by Benedetti Architects took not only the award for Public Building Interior category but was also selected as the Supreme Winner.
The judges were impressed by the sensitive reconfiguration and repositioning of the original Victorian plasterwork and reuse of oak flooring whilst also introducing future facing solutions including Eyrise TM s350 Licrivision liquid crystal rooflight ‘smart’ insulated glass, which removes up to 80 per cent of harmful rays.
Other winners included Maggie’s Southampton by AL_A, which won Light + Surface Exterior and Public Building Exterior and the Peacock Cellar restaurant in Shanghai which took the top honours in the Light + Surface Interior category.
The good news keeps on coming… Surface Design Show 2023 will take place at The Business Design Centre February 7 – 9, 2023.
Main image credit: Surface Design Show