Show report: Hotel; In Retail and Office Expo 2006

The seventh annual Hotel Show, held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, took place last month in a climate of soaring demand for hospitality sector products. Around 700 exhibitors from over 40 countries took part in the show, hoping to capitalise on the region’s burgeoning hospitality industry with Abu Dhabi and Dubai contributing 30,000 new hotel rooms over the next five years.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  July 7, 2006

The seventh annual Hotel Show, held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, took place last month in a climate of soaring demand for hospitality sector products. Around 700 exhibitors from over 40 countries took part in the show, hoping to capitalise on the region’s burgeoning hospitality industry with Abu Dhabi and Dubai contributing 30,000 new hotel rooms over the next five years. 14 national pavilions held a multitude of innovative product launches, many aimed at the commercial interior designer, with trends showing a continuing shift in regional tastes away from classical and oriental furniture to more modern, European designs. An eye-catching launch came from UK based digital company Myfotowall.com. Its pioneering new web based concept, enables designers to create digital imagery in wallpaper format. Fabrics and textiles were also very much in evidence. French company Nobilis used the show as a platform to unveil its new contract collection Trevira CS, which will be launched in France in September. The trend appears to be for aqua and gold colours with matching wallpaper. Manager, Patrick Feidel seemed impressed with the exhibition, “the show was excellent. We made over 80 professional contacts. It could easily replace Index for us.” Also from France, Lelievre showcased some innovative, contemporary curtain tiebacks by Remy Lemoine executed by French and Italian craftsmen using Murano glass and oak. However, their reaction to the show was more reserved. Manager, Patrice Muscat, said, “our impression is mixed. We had some of the biggest interior design companies visiting our stand. However, we were expecting people from hotels to come directly such as the purchasing manager, housekeeping manager or hotel owner, but I didn’t meet any!” Innovative lighting designs were also on display. Le Porcellane unveiled two new ranges, a classical and a contemporary. Designed and placed in a kiln by hand, the decadent lights contain decorative elements made from 26% pure gold. Spanish lighting manufacturer Luzifer introduced Carambola — a suspension lighting product manufactured from wood veneer, while KSI Electronics showcased a new innovation in tabletop lighting. The very latest in rechargeable, battery powered lamps with LED technology allows the lighting concept and colour scheme of a bar or restaurant to be followed through to the décor of each table. Technology in hotel design was a key component. Netherlands company, Forest Group, has developed an automated drape with motorised curtain rail that responds to the touch. Dion M. Bosch said, “We were attracted to Dubai by the booming construction. The show was great; we have had good leads from Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE. We have already used a pre booking form from DMG for 2007.” The region’s largest international interior contracting company, Depa, made their mark with an impressive stand. “We thought it was a very successful show this year, our stand was the biggest and made a lot of noise. Our purpose was to create brand awareness for Depa United Group and its subsidiary companies. Thanks to its strategic location and important size, we had the opportunity to meet a lot of people, including potential clients,” said Hania Al Lahham, PR manager. The firm has recently announced aggressive expansion plans, acquiring contracts worth more than Dhs40million including the complete fit out of the Four Seasons Mumbai and the acquisition of a 16.8% stake in Singapore based Design Studio. Also making big announcements were Al Aqili. The company has taken on distribution for Shaw Contract flooring. “Shaw Industries is the largest carpet manufacturer in the world; we have been doing their residential line for the last 10 years,” said Shahriar Khodjasteh, group marketing director. “They have taken their contract and hospitality lines away from one of our competitors and given them to us.” An additional highlight of the exhibition was an appearance by internationally acclaimed designer Karim Rashid. His address formed part of the ‘Seven Star Conference’, which also included topics such as customer service, restaurant concepts and market trends. Sluggish European economies appeared to have boosted Western presence at the show with German brands occupying almost 1000sqm of space, and 40 Italian companies on show. With around 200 exhibitors from over 20 countries taking part, the Office Exhibition was nearly double the size of last year. The very latest global advances in office acoustics, lighting and ergonomics were showcased. Gemaco were determined to make an impact, “most office stands tend to be white, black and grey — very minimalist in design. We saw the exhibition as an opportunity to inject some colour. We had very positive feedback on our vibrant carpet designs. The A & E market seems to be strong in Dubai compared to what we have seen in the past,” said Soren Kraen, general manager, Gemaco. The company launched the Zody chair from Haworth — 98% recyclable; the chair is credited with being an ecologically efficient product, blending science based wellness and comfort with design and sustainability. “In this part of the world, ‘environmentally friendly’ is a term that is unfortunately not much used. While we received a great deal of interest among people who specify products here, in the country of the UAE this is not an important issue. We are a pioneering company in this sense.” Gemaco also unveiled ege — the first carpet manufacturer in Europe to receive the ISO 14000 environmental standard award. Ergonomically designed office seating appeared very much in demand. Belgium manufacturer Bulo showcased the ‘Tab’ Chair by Alain Berteau. The versatile chair features a large bended back, designed to counter inter-vertebral stress, caused by sitting for long periods of time. Sedus launched the ‘netwin’ range by Michael Klasener, for maximum comfort. The double membrane, pulled over the slim line backrest ensures a soft cushioning effect. H2O Concepts unveiled the Celle Chair from Herman Miller. The chair has cellular suspension —a patented system of loops and cells that flexes in tandem with the body’s movement. Sagsa launched a range of innovative products including ‘Thin Wall’ and ‘Folding Table’. Chairman, Michele Perini was pleased with the show: “We were attracted to Dubai by strong investments planned in the office furniture field. The fair, however limited, aroused lively interest and had international visibility. My judgment is very positive.” UK company Colebrook Bosson Saunders displayed some innovative technology designed to make office life easier. Its products focus on creation of space through imaginative relocation of IT equipment such as cabling, monitors and computers. The CBS Wishbone is an award winning flat screen arm system. Constructed from glass and reinforced plastic, its inherent strength allows each arm to bear loads of up to 12 kgs. This combination of elegance and functionality has resulted in its winning six design awards. Al Aqili launched the Luparense and Mobilex office chairs from Italy. The company had five separate stands at the three shows and found it to be a big commercial success: “We were probably the first people to make money from the show as we supplied the red carpet walkways, but in fact the whole expo was very good for us. Not a huge number of visitors but definitely good quality of prospects. That’s the best way really,” said Khodjasteh. The strong international presence was highlighted by the British Contract Furnishing Association who brought eight UK companies. “They received excellent leads and made good contacts with possible agents and distributers,” said Sue Graves, project manager. The first ever In Retail event, showcased the exciting developments taking place for designers involved in the development of new shopping malls and retail projects in the Gulf region. “Even though this was the first ever ‘In Retail’ show, attendance was quite good,” said Sudhir Sharma, sales manager, Trucolour Digital Production Services: “It was an excellent show. The leads it generated were few but good quality and we are sure that these will generate immediate results. We are very pleased.” The company launched some innovative products including the printable textile, which is flame retardant and made with ecologically friendly fibres. Visplay unveiled a new generation of product lines including shop fit systems, which allow clients to implement them into the partition itself. Klaus Bisch from Visplay said: “In general we were surprised about the good quality of visitors. We had plenty of decision makers from interested clients on the stand. The problem at a Dubai exhibition is to bring Dubaians to the exhibition! Basically nobody has time to pass by, but this time a lot of them came!” The success of the inaugural event indicates that the retail phenomenon sweeping the region shows no signs of abating.

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