Index Show Report: Gulf Design

The Middle East’s largest exhibition dedicated to the interiors industry closed its doors on the 11th November after five busy days. Occupying the entire 61,000 m² of the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, 1,389 exhibitors from 57 countries crammed into each hall. They showcased exciting designs from office furniture to laminate flooring to hand-embroidered wallpapers to elegant crystal chandelier lighting.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  December 4, 2006

|~|index body 1.gif|~||~|The Middle East’s largest exhibition dedicated to the interiors industry closed its doors on the 11th November after five busy days. Occupying the entire 61,000 m² of the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, 1,389 exhibitors from 57 countries crammed into each hall. They showcased exciting designs from office furniture to laminate flooring to hand-embroidered wallpapers to elegant crystal chandelier lighting.
Index visitors increased by 7.3% from Index 2005 to 36,994 and approximately 62% of registered visitors were from outside Dubai, showing the international influence Index now commands.

Promoting the fair globally was a key consideration for Index organisers, dmg, this year as Bernard Walsh, managing director of dmg world media Dubai Ltd explained: “We made substantial efforts to attract the key buyers from Saudi Arabia, India, Iran and other key countries, and it is very satisfying to see that our strategy was successful. Encouragingly, there was also a marked increase in the number of visitors from East Africa, which demonstrates the still expanding geographical strength of Index.”
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There was impressive attendance from local companies, with Al Aqili taking over the whole Al Multaqua hall and smaller independent companies producing inspiring stands. Regionally, Egypt had a great exhibition, with an eye-catching raised central display in Zabeel Hall where highly contemporary interpretations of classical furniture items, such as a scarlet stretched chaise longue were showcased from Fayek Furniture.

Internationally, it was very encouraging to see a healthy selection of Far-Eastern countries with some Vietnamese and Filipino companies exhibiting for the first time, along with their Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian counterparts. Expected flourishes of innovation in principally the furniture and lighting industries were featured in the Italian pavilion where 130 companies were coordinated by Federlegno-Arredo, spread over 3,000m².
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Similarly, the French pavilion hosted 51 companies, an increase from 43 last year. Aurélie Quinquet-Aubin, from the French trade Commission in Dubai says: “Manufacturers of furniture, porcelain, fine art, decorative objects, fine wood and upholstery fabric presented high-end products including some created to suit the Emirates’ market and tastes, in terms of colours and styles. One third of the companies exhibited for the first time to discover the Emirates market and try to set up a commercial relationship with local companies.” She continues: “The French companies coming to Index usually have high hopes for this exhibition and region. Dubai sounds like a dream to them, as media in France constantly showcases the new luxury projects in Dubai.

As their products are such high end and for some of them unique pieces, they really feel like the Emirates is THE market for them, more than the French market itself sometimes. Index is the key to this shiny market.”

||**|||~|index body 4.gif|~||~|Carlos Costa, director of the Portuguese Trade Centre agrees: “The feedback from our Portuguese companies was very positive. The exhibitors came to Dubai to present a top quality product equivalent to other famous European brands, yet at a much lower cost. This is the message they were trying to get across within this rapidly increasing country, hoping not only to push business for themselves, but to promote Portugal’s high quality materials and design internationally. It was an opportunity for Portuguese companies to show why they are the third largest fabric exporters in the world.”

As to the success of the show for the exhibitors, Costa enthuses: “There were important deals made with top specialised retailers in the region. We were very excited with the news that rug specialists, Carving, had agreed a distribution deal with Habitat at the fair. Some major players of the hospitality industry have also demonstrated a high interest in Portuguese products and we anticipate many prospective deals.”

||**|||~|index body 5.gif|~||~|The South Americans cited a very successful fair. Andrea Monteiro Uhlmann, marketing manager, Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce said that during the event, around 80 orders were closed for approximately US$ 3 million with Brazilian companies.

The British enjoyed a fruitful fair too. Sue Graves, project manager, British Contract Furnishing Association organised a UK group on behalf of UK Trade & Investment consisting of 40 designers, manufacturers and suppliers which were located in Hall 3 and Sheikh Rashid Hall. She told CID: “It was an excellent show, and greatly improved by having a straight run through from 11am-8pm daily, which meant that visitors had time to work their way through all the halls without having to rush. UK companies were overwhelmed with the responses to their products and have come back with an unparalled number of contacts from not just the GCC countries but from Africa, India and the Far East as well.”

||**|||~|index body 6.gif|~||~|The sheer scale of the show meant that the variety of exhibitors, while at times overwhelming, meant that the whole spectrum of interior design was covered.
As the show expands to immense proportions, it may make more sense for future shows to be split into categories instead of countries though. In this era of increased globalisation, the country of origin is much less of a consideration for designers who are simply looking for interesting and exciting products for their projects.

The 2007 exhibition will be held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre from 1-5 Nov. ||**||

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