This year’s edition of Brussels Furniture Fair spanned seven well-filled halls and featured over 300 exhibitors, exuding an optimistic mood, brimming with creative stands and an impressive, innovative product offering. Although visitor numbers were slightly down this year – at just over 19,700 – the high standard of buyers attending the event was apparent, with exhibitors reporting a substantial number of orders during the event. Victoria Noakes paid the show a visit...
Many unique collections and concepts were displayed in Brussels, pleasing visitors with a high level of quality, presentation and choice. A number of new exhibitors brought a fresh, vibrant atmosphere to the event, whilst established exhibitors also impressed, using the fair as a launchpad for original new product.
One of the attractive features of Brussels Furniture Fair is the different dedicated sections of the event, which this year included an expanded Kids Corner – which was well-received by visitors – and an increased Brussels by Night area, which clearly buzzed with activity, partly due to the large number of Dutch visitors.
The upgrading of the Square was clear to see and also led to tangible positive results, with Joli, Coesel, Alf, Seuren and Doimo just a few examples of the contented exhibitors in the high-end segment of the market. In addition, the Holland à la Carte section presented trend-inspired Dutch designs and was dressed in the style of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, with distinctive colours and clear lines.
Notable product launches included well-known Italian brand Natuzzi’s Re-Vive – a lounger which creates a sense of weightlessness by means of a simple body movement – and German company Ruf’s collection of upholstered beds that sets itself apart from the traditional strong Belgian and Dutch ranges in Brussels by Night. There was also a conspicuous contribution from Dutch firms including Jess, Zuiver, Sumisura, Eleonora and ByBoo, Olav, Sturdy Legs and PMP.
Recently-established Belgian rug manufacturer Trinity Creations exhibited its new contemporary, high-quality collections which represent impressive value. Founder Yves De Rudder says: “We received very positive feedback overall for our rug collections. We mostly had Dutch visitors to our stand, followed by French, and saw an increasing amount of UK customers. The show was a success for us, with our sales agents reporting many orders and new business.”
UK bed manufacturer Somnus exhibited for the second year running and has recently appointed a sales manager dedicated to Holland and Belgium. Its 2014 Supremacy collection features 12 models supported by new ranges of striking fabrics and headboards. “This show is an important trade fair in Somnus’ export strategy for developing sales of luxury box spring beds in the European market. High-end retailers visiting our stand were keen to offer a more English-style handmade bed,” says export sales director Alan Scott.
This year’s Balthazars awards saw one company recognised in four different categories – Kreamat won the Best of Belgium award for its Sparta model; Kluskens won the Country Today award, for its Tense table – a slender solid-wood table with a rustic feel; the Most Green award went to LS Bedding for its Circular bed, which at the end of its life can be either composted or recycled; and the Best Innovation award went to Mathy by Bols for Fusion, a clever eco design in MDF and aluminium.
After the award ceremony, it was time for Els Van Pelt to bid the Brussels Furniture Fair farewell after 15 years of intensive management, handing the reins over to the new director, Jan Mentens.
Visitors were unanimous in their view that the Brussels Furniture Fair has developed into a forceful instrument and a major international platform for the furniture sector. It seems there is still potential for growth, even in hard times. The show has proven once again that in a commercial context a trade fair adds significant momentum. The next edition of the fair will be held from 2nd-5th November 2014.