I attended this year's IIDEX at the beginning of December. IIDEX is an annual design exhibition I look forward to every year for inspiration, new ideas, and emerging products. IIDEX is a paradise for interior and spatial designers; the trades floor consists of furniture suppliers, materials vendors, innovative products, and useful software - from Vitra and Caesarstone to Microsoft Surface and Archello.
This year's selection of exhibitors was varied and unique. My favourite of the event was Frovi, a British-based furniture company that offers contemporary, social solutions for home, office, and commercial spaces, all with a Scandinavian flair. Most of their featured products at this show were designed as a way to create a private place within a space, a solution to the now prevalent open concept offices where privacy is at a minimum. Their Huddle Shed, for example, is a portable office space with an upholstered interior and workstation comprised of acoustically engineered materials.
I also attended a fantastic seminar by Alison Embrey Medina, the Executive Editor of design:retail magazine called Humanizing Retail: Designing Purposeful Store Experiences for People, Not Products. Medina spoke about eight emerging trends in the retail industry: brands that empower, retail transparency, trading and borrowing ("generation rent"), frictionless retail, hybrid lifestyle brands, virtual reality portals, hand-made and tactile products, and lastly, activator companies. Medina discussed how a brand such as Lolë was able to empower their customer through the Lolë White Tour, and how companies such as Everlane are pledging full transparency through breaking down the prices of their goods online. Interestingly, she touched upon Millennials and their penchant for borrowing and recycling, which has led to amazing ideas such as the Pimkie Mini Fashion Bar or the Danish retailer Vigga. Emery also touched upon the prevalence of hybrid retail: retailers that have morphed into lifestyle brands, with examples such as Jane, a motorcycle cafe in Brooklyn that sells gear, books, sandwiches, and clothing, and Workbar, an office sharing space built inside a Staples store in Boston. Overall, her presentation was a very exciting look at what awaits the retail industry in 2017.