To the NEC’s Spring Fair, and a day spent wearing out a considerable amount of shoe leather walking through the 19 – yes 19! – halls of trade stands showcasing new home and gift products for retailers, interior designers, etc....although how this stand fitted into the mix escapes us:
The place is a feast for the eyes – everywhere you turn there are stands full of gorgeously colourful ceramics, furniture of both the bling and the minimalist variety, enough lamps to light Times Square for a fortnight and rugs that could cover Wembley Stadium several times over. Picking a way through the maze is difficult – at times we wish we'd tied a length of string to the car in order to find our way back out again – and it was a challenge to try to make sense of new trends when all senses are in a constant state of bombardment (even taking into account the flatulence pants' filtering properties).
Firstly, those of you who have bought into the Nordic, copper, or concrete trends can breathe a sigh of relief – you are officially still ‘with it’ as my Dad would say. The cactus motif shows no signs of disappearing, the flamingo is also still popular, but unicorn and watermelon-inspired designs are starting to fade.
Three words (that I have never written in the same sentence before): Botanicals, Llamas, and Bamboo.
Houseplants were everywhere. Every stand used them to show off their designs, and planters were produced in metal, wicker, ceramic, and recycled plastic (just about everything except the traditional terracotta). Cushions were adorned with leaf prints, as were tableware and bed linen. Fortunately this is an easy look to achieve – you don’t have to fork out for botanical tropical leaf patterned curtains, all that’s needed is a trip to the garden centre and a few attractive indoor plant pots. Oh – and remembering to water them regularly.
With regard to giftware; it's all about the llama. Or the alpaca (some exhibitors couldn’t make up their minds which word to use). They were on everything - watch out for an explosion of colour in a gift shop near you soon, along with a plethora of puns: ‘no probllama’ and ‘the illamanati’ were just the tip of an allama-ingly llarge iceberg.
Blue Planet woke us all up with regard to unnecessary use of plastic for single-use items, with many of us questioning whether we really need a plastic straw in our cocktail or if it would kill us to re-fill our water bottles rather than throw them away. Disposable coffee cups are another cause for concern: in the UK we use seven million of them A DAY, and more and more people are looking for an alternative. Re-usable bamboo coffee cups seem to be the way forward – it was incredible to see the number of stands that were selling them and it’s an item that we at Snowbunting are keen to stock (watch this space).
The holy grail will be if we can find one with pictures of tropical leaves around the side and a llama on the lid...perhaps with a built-in breath freshener?