Home and garden shows are a big part of our business. And whilst we don’t tend to, or have felt the need to, exhibit much in recent years, it is important for Lazy Susan to attend the main garden furniture exhibitions. They’ll heavily influence our product development for the coming seasons, we can see what the competition is up to, and they keep us in touch with the latest trends.
It’s not just the garden and flower type shows too, the more general home and design shows always include outdoor furniture, and interior trends are increasingly influencing what is happening in our gardens and on our patios. In this post I wanted to focus on the home and design shows that have informed our style, colour and material choices in recent years.
However, when it comes to garden furniture, you need to do a little more searching to find it. It’s out there, and increasing every year. The big home and garden shows are recognising its importance. But there’s not really a truly dedicated consumer show. Yes, there’s a handful of trade shows, but between you and me, with the exception of two, they’re not the most inspiring.
Garden furniture exhibitions will inspire you
If you want to truly be inspired by what’s happening in our industry, then it is the consumer home and garden shows that are the best place to start. Many of them have introduced dedicated outdoor living sections in recent year. They are recognising the importance of good garden furniture to the overall design of the home.
The inspiration we get from attending these shows is another reason why we like to publish our trend predictions. The basis of those articles is often from what we’ve seen at the shows we attend. So with that in mind, I thought it might be a nice idea for us to share what I think are the best shows in 2019 to visit for a little garden/patio inspiration.
These are mostly shows we’ve attended in the past, or plan to visit again in 2019. The ones that usually deliver a good selection of the latest garden furniture pieces. Not all are a garden furniture exhibition as such, apologies if that title was a little misleading, but they all tend to have an outdoor living section. And I know I said some of the UK trade shows are a little dull, but I’ve included a couple of the good ones.
Grand Designs Live
Always the first show I book and add to the diary. Based on the Channel 4 series of the same name, the live show offers visitors the chance to pick up a little expert advice, new product launches and specialist exhibitors in six project zones. You may even get to meet Kevin.
Whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches, this is the show to find the latest and greatest ideas and inspiration for your very own Grand Design at this multi-award winning event. The project zones this year will be Build, Gardens, Interiors, Kitchens & Bathrooms, Tech and a Design Arcade. Obviously the highlight for us being the Garden Zone.
As we always say, the best homes link indoors and outdoors so that you can make the most of your space. Grand Gardens this year is promising to be full of contemporary garden products, from hot tubs and swim spas to barbecues and of course garden furniture.
Why not give it a visit, you can even discuss your show highlights over a glass of bubbly in the Champagne Bar, sponsored by Hydropool.
Grand Designs Live 2019 is proudly sponsored by Anglian Home Improvements, and it returns to London’s ExCeL from 4th to 12th May.
Summer Outdoor Living Exhibition
Yes, I said the garden furniture trade shows are pretty poor, but SOLEX is a little different. It is done properly, is well organised, and it attracts the best of our industry. If you’re a manufacturer, retailer, contract buyer, interior designer, specifier or procurement manager/director, then SOLEX is a must visit.
SOLEX is organised by the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association for their members. An annual 3-day event, SOLEX brings together all the leading manufacturers of garden products – furniture, barbecues, gazebos, parasols, outdoor lighting and play equipment etc.
With over 70 exhibitors, this unique event provides a showcase for all the exciting new developments in design, environmental manufacturing, sustainability and production for both the retail and contract markets. So if you can attend, then make sure the 9th to 11th July 2019 are blocked off in your diary.
This year will be my first visit to Glee. I have tried in the past, but other commitments have got in the way. I’ve had some good reviews from colleagues, so I will ensure I make it this year. It is a trade show, but I have been informed that there’s a strong emphasis on garden and outdoor living design, they try to showcase the freshest and most exciting brands, new products and garden retail insight.
From my perspective, Glee will give me an opportunity to keep an eye on what’s new in the UK market and catch up with suppliers and old colleagues etc. Glee are promising to bring together the most exciting exhibitors with the most powerful and influential visitors and buyers in our industry.
This year the show will be spread across 8 select sectors, and deliver three jam packed days of networking, selling and purchasing. Not one I can afford to miss again. Glee will run from 10th to 12th September at the NEC Birmingham. As for as garden trade events go, I have been informed that this is a crucial date in any retailer’s calendar.
Top Drawer is something a little different, I think it is the same people behind the excellent Pulse show I visited a year or two back. I could be completely wrong with that? Anyway, Pulse never failed to inspire, so I will definitely be attending this one as it is the same type of event. Pulse was the UK’s ultimate boutique trade event for retailers.
However, there is a Home sector and within that they will feature outdoor furniture and garden accessory exhibitors. Yes the show is more for gifts, modern living and fashion accessories, but there will be a strong focus on interior accessories, furniture and lighting and most importantly, outdoor living..
With Top Drawer, the organisers are promising to deliver exclusive access to the latest trends and an expertly curated selection of over 1,500 design-led lifestyle brands from across the globe, Top Drawer is the perfect source of inspiration to help you create an offering that is out of the ordinary for your store.
From our perspective, the outdoor living sector promises to reflect the growing trend to lavish as much love and care on our outside space as we do on the inside, this is where we hope to find a little garden inspo. Curated by a panel of market-leading experts, Top Drawer is carefully edited to save you time by bringing you the very best products and brands available. I’m hoping it takes our industry out of that comfort zone.
The garden furniture industry, like many other industries, can be very insular. Hence my reluctance to visit to many trade shows. Yes, it is vital to keep an eye on the competition, but to be honest, you tend to just see the same old boring wicker sets. Top Drawer is design-led, they will be showcasing new designers, it is going to be a hotbed of cutting-edge product and talent. Hopefully, they can bring something fresh to the UK outdoor living sector.
Much like Top Drawer, you aren’t going to see a vast amount of garden furniture, but there will always be some. However, I always find it is a case of quality over quantity, this is where you’ll see the true innovators. This show never fails to inspire us in terms of interior or patio/garden design.
100% Design is the largest and longest running design trade show for industry professionals in the UK. First staged in 1994, 100% Design is the commercial cornerstone event of the London Design Festival. Attracting more than 27,000 visitors across 4 days, the show takes place at one of London’s most iconic venues, Olympia London.
Visitors to this award-winning show tend to include architects, designers, specifiers, retailers, and developers. Those who want to source products for their latest projects as well as those of us simply looking for inspiring new design not seen anywhere else. It features an unrivalled talks programme, bespoke installations and a curated selection of world-leading international brands.
In 2018, the show was the most exciting destination during the London Design Festival. Striking installations, inspiring collaborations and high-end design remained the focus but a fresh approach to the show and its campaign highlighted its dedication to innovation and emerging talent in a fun, vibrant way. This year the show will run from 18th to 21st Sept 2019 at Olympia London.
Which garden furniture exhibitions should you visit in 2019
So that is my garden furniture exhibition calendar for 2019. Maybe we will see you there? And yes I know, not all strictly garden furniture shows but trust me you won’t be disappointed if you visit them. I also consciously didn’t include any gardening shows such as the Chelsea Flower show as these require a post all of their own.
You will see garden furniture at the gardening shows, they will always inspire, but there’s just so many good ones out there that they need a post all of their own. However, if you can only make one show this year from the list above, then for me, it has to be Grand Designs Live. In terms of gardening shows, then it has to be Chelsea, but more of that later.