27th November 2009 | IN DESIGN EVENTS | BY SBID

Arriving at SIA is in itself an experience; I travelled to it at 8.30am in a people carrier with the European Council of Hotel Management Association who were heading to SIA to firstly host their own Board Meeting before visiting the show. En-route we held an inspiring impromptu conference and we put Europe right, a creative group of real people, proactive and fun as well as the united European voice for hotel owners and managers. I found the conversation and vision spot-on they collectively understand exactly what a hotel must deliver to be a success. As designers we must consult and include that knowledge within our decision making process. As architects and designers we should reflect on the experience the consumer has throughout the entire process of the hotel experience. I mean right back to the beginning from making the reservation to leaving the hotel with our luggage after paying the bill. Much of what is involved throughout that entire experience is `feeling` it is the emotion not the function the consumer experiences which remains.

 I stayed at the Grand Hotel a magnificent celestial hotel of yesteryear, with everything that entails. The evening turndown service left a bookmark on my pillow, as a single occupant these little touches are an endorsement of the personal service, then I read the quote: “But where am I? I feel as if I am nowhere. If death is like this … this is not going to be nice. Everything gone, the people, the trees, the birds in the air, the wine, forget it” Fellini.  Well now am I very happy to sleep in this big empty room with that last thought in my head? Design of an interior is more than just the furniture, the budget and the cleanliness although they are what the consumer purchases with their left brain thinking, their right-side thinking will keep them returning for the `soft` non tangible items a skilled designer provides. 

 The show was packed with the good and the great from Europe, and the opening ceremony was the usual wonderful ceremony in a way that only Italy can present, Regalia, more military uniforms and colours than I knew existed, with various shaped hats and gold braiding to demonstrate rank and importance, this was further embellished with a chest of medals and ribbons glistening on the proud chests of every rank and file who waited patiently for the arrival of the Minister of Tourism to endorse the importance of this annual event. The exhibition hall was built in 2001 and designed by German architects GMP of Hamburg and it is the most spectacular architecture and design for a conference centre I have seen throughout Europe. I love this venue, it is also the most inspiring show full of amazing manufacturers from all over Italy and with the true flair and desire to create and design, it is in the bones of almost every Italian to be creative in the simple things, from the way they dress, to the way they interact as a family unit to the respect for their elders and the manners and dress of every citizen, I do love Italy, and the world loves Italy, the show was brimming with boutique hotel owners looking out for designers for their projects, manufacturers looking for designers to specify their new collections and the Managers of hotel chains looking for new trends and colour as well as keeping their eye on the general market. Vanessa Brady Chairman of The Society was invited ad the special guest of AIpi the Italian counterpart organisation of Italy, Carlo Beltramelli is the new Board Director of the European Council of Interior Architects, the collective Country members who reach the highest level of competence are strenuously scrutinised to ensure the quality and reputation of the organisation founded in 1962 is retained. The Society of British Interior Design was elected as a full member after a presentation given by the Chairman Vanessa Brady in Helsinki in September. Mr Beltramelli introduced Brady at the opening ceremony. The show will have approximately 40,000 visitors over four days and is spread throughout ten halls.

 The Society of British Interior Design took a small delegation from across the Country.

Simon Bell of Archial Group PLC an international architectural practice that  has 17 UK offices and 7 more worldwide. Simon a member of  The Society of British Interior Design and  is currently the lead architect working on the remodelling of Harrogate International Centre (HIC). This £45 million pound multi-phased project is due to start on site next year and the practice has developed the designs over the last 3 years. Simon said `What an impressive exhibition and what an impressive venue!  I will definitely return and I will inform our seventeen offices throughout the UK about it. I am grateful to The Society for inviting me to join its delegation.`

Johnny Grey a kitchen designer with studios in New York, San Francisco and the UK also attended and said `the exhibitors are friendly and displays sophisticated and stylish. I found more well designed and quality products here in my three day visit than I expected, I am really impressed, having joined The Society of British Interior Design I was invited to attend SIA, I had not heard of this show in Britain before, I cant believe its been going for 59 years, Ill definitely return`

Was this show a success in such a bad economic climate? I have to say this was the best trade show I have been too in years, Italy has many amazing shows and we will be collaborating with SIA throughout the year ahead to make next year in collaboration with the show organisers, project managers and their Press Office the most successful show of all time.