Requests for display spaces for next year’s Furnishing in Focus show were coming in straight after the conclusion of the 2016 event, which means that next year has the potential to grow further in size. However, the emphasis in 2017 will be on quality not quantity.
“We don’t want to make the mistake of past experiences with other shows that basically ‘sold out’ to importer exhibitors and which alienated Australian manufacturers,” said organiser John MacKinnon. “If we followed that model, we could increase in size by another 30% to 50% but we would lose faith with the principles that have brought us here,” he added.
It seems that the big PLUS for Furnishing in Focus also hinges on its affordability for Australian manufacturers, with display spaces costing anywhere from half to a third of comparable shows, without the presence of imports, and all under one roof. To this end, the display criteria have been kept as simple as possible. All exhibitors are offered exactly the same floor space with an open plan theme throughout. This not only excludes the additional cost of pre-fabricated stands and flooring, but it makes move-in and move-out times remarkably efficient, with a minimum of OH&S risk.
“At the 4pm close of FIF 2016, the entire 6,000 m2 area had been cleared by 7pm,” John said. “This is a huge benefit to our exhibitor base in reducing labour and freight costs.
The big additional benefit is that we are encouraging new and emerging manufacturers who can participate on an equal footing with some of Australia’s best known brands. The nice thing is that everyone participates equally with the same sense of camaraderie that was once synonymous with Australia’s early furniture industry.”
It seems that this sense of mateship is further evidenced by the fact that floor space allocations cannot be pre-selected, but are drawn by lottery once all available areas have been spoken for. And, because of the open plan format, there are no exhibitors who are disadvantaged by their allocated display location.
Looking to the future
Furnishing in Focus has now confirmed its intention to exhibit in 2017 and right up to 2020 and beyond, according to organiser, John MacKinnon.
“We will continue to encourage all manufacturers of Australian based furnishing products to exhibit including those producing dining, case goods, metal furniture products, together with curtain and soft furnishing makers.
“Our intentions are for the common good of the Australian furnishing industry, by which gesture we hope all Australian makers will offer a rousing challenge to imported products.”
With the increased sponsorship of Australian Made, the patronage of Warwick Fabrics and the ongoing support of Australia’s leading fabric, leather and foam suppliers, the dates for Furnishing in Focus 2017 are now confirmed for 4 and 5 May, 2017
“Based on some of the initial feedback this year, it seems these dates will encourage customers from all over Australia to visit the exhibition with the opportunity of enjoying the weekend in Melbourne,” said John.
For more information about exhibiting at Furnishing in Focus, or to register to attend, please visit www.furnishinginfocus.com.