INDEX 2012 to review later opening hours

Naomi  Barton, event director index 2012.

Members of  the INDEX 2012 steering committee met up recently to discuss changes they can make to the show including later opening times, high profile guest speakers, a VIP invite-only night and business ‘speed dating’.

Several organisers from dmg :: events, including INDEX founder Bernard Walsh,  Mike Allsopp senior VP and Naomi  Barton, event director, met with volunteers Rob Canning, retail area manager, BoConcept MENA, Pallavi Dean, independent design consultant, Caroline Vesey, design consultant, Richard Wagner, architect, director  of  events, AIA (American  Institute  of  Architects) ME and Sinmar Al Said, managing partner, Internal Line Interior Design.

It will partner with Architonic this year, a popular sourcing website for designers and suppliers to distribute promotional bags to visitors and plans to open its Student Challenge to the GCC not just the UAE.

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Other suggestions include setting up a young furniture designers section or a ‘Dragons Den’-style programme where youngsters starting out in the business can pitch for investment from large firms.

Dean said she wants to see products integrated into their own sections rather than all the exhibitors put together according to their country of origin such as the Chinese Pavilion, because it makes it easier to look round.

Talking about hiring big name guest speakers, Canning said BoConcept has just launched a collection with designer Karim Rashid. He said visitors to INDEX would pay to see a big name if they talked about problem-resolving, trends and challenges in the industry.

“People see INDEX as a networking event and a chance for professionals to discuss businesses opportunities but dmg need to turn it into something that inspires interior designers. We want to use it as a launch pad to make news announcements about our collections and products,” he said.

Last year, INDEX opened the first day of the show on a Saturday for end users.

“We want to satisfy everyone but we don’t want to turn it into a souk, we want to keep it professional,” said Walsh.

Barton agreed and said she wanted to ‘push the business side of the fair because if too many consumers come people will not take it seriously as an industry fair’.

With this in mind it will continue to provide VIP parking for guests and will considering changing the opening times from 4pm-10pm so that people who can’t get away during working hours have a chance to come to the show.

Also, as the first day of the show is Monday, the consumer day will be the last day of the week this year (Thursday).

Other suggestions were special VIP tours, showroom openings and a VIP networking event that is by invite only for important big names in the industry and opening up exclusive venues that interior designers wouldn’t normally get the chance to see.

Talking about the industry at large, Walsh admitted INDEX suffered in the recession but this year will be bigger than last year’s show. It will also launch in Saudi in May.

“This year will be the first edition of INDEX KSA, May 29-31 at Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events. I was dubious about it at first but I was wrong because the show has doubled in size this year,” he added.

No final decisions have been made and the committee will meet again to discuss ideas and budget restraints.

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