designEX is Australia’s leading “trade only” design and architecture event which has been running for the past 23 years. Each year the show alternates between Melbourne and Sydney.And for some inexplicable reason it is held the week after the Milan Furniture Fair.
My first trip to designEX was 6 years ago when I was undertaking my dual Diploma in Colour Consulting and Interior Styling. I organised a group of my fellow students to travel to Melbourne for three days and visit the show. We were like kids in a lolly store and walked around all day with our jaws dragging on the floor. We collected brochures and samples from just about every exhibitor and handed out business cards like there was no tomorrow. We didn’t see everything the first day and with aching feet and backs, we ventured back the second day to spend the morning visiting the stands we didn’t fit in on the first day.
The next year the show was in Sydney. We had all graduated and many were working in the design industry in various capacities. We met up again for a lunch and walk around the show. Not quite so daunting, it was still huge and we easily filled the day. We were, however, more selective on who we visited and which brochures we collected. Having set up my own business and servicing residential clients for 18 months I now knew what suppliers I needed.
I then settled into a rhythm of visiting designEX each year regardless of what town it was in. Melbourne always appeared to be bigger and better than the Sydney show, but I was never sure if that was just because it was an opportunity to be out of town or infact there were more Melbourne based suppliers there, that I didn’t get to see regularly. Many suppliers would launch new ranges at designEX and my inbox was packed with invitations to drop by certain stands to see the new releases.
So this year, I made my biennial pilgrimage to Melbourne for designEX. It was so disappointing. I know over the years, the show has become smaller and smaller with many of the fabric houses opting to have showings in their own showrooms rather than take a stand at the show. But 2011 would have to be the smallest designEX I have ever visited. Many of the big players were absent and I was able to complete the show in less than 2 hours. The best thing about the show was the “bling” bag we received to store all our brochures.
But my trip to Melbourne was not wasted. I do like visiting this southern capital and had a great day exploring a couple of suburbs and suppliers that I hadn’t visited before. But I doubt I’ll be back to Melbourne solely for designEX. Perhaps next year I should head to Milan?