Surface Design Show 2022 took place at the Business Design Centre last week with the overwhelming response from both visitors and exhibitors being ‘it’s great to be back’. After a year of virtual events the appetite from visitors to engage, network and be updated on the latest surface materials and designs was clearly visible.

“It has been great to be back seeing people and their new and upcoming projects, over the last two years we have really missed the interaction within the industry” Josh Stance – Mundy Veneer

More than 160 exhibitors showcased the best in surface design, with almost 5000 architects, designers and specifiers visiting over the 2 ½ days.

Once again, Surface Design Show attracted a high-quality audience. 84% of visitors worked in the architecture and design sector and 73% have direct purchasing authority. Reflecting the cancellation or postponement of exhibitions over the last 24-months; 69% of the audience came to source new products and 50% were looking to discover new design trends.

The overriding theme of the show ‘Sense of Place’ which looked at putting humanity and the planet’s wellbeing at the heart of all decision making, was first introduced at The Opening Night Debate.

Held in partnership with RIBA, Climate Change and Future Proofing featured a stellar line up of industry experts. The passionate session hosted by Simon Sturgis, Founder of Targeting Zero brought together a younger generation of architects, designers and clients. They not only explored the issues around the future durability and adaptability of current projects, but also how we ensure that the commercial value of projects can be future proofed against climate change.

Carrying on with the theme Sense of Place, many of the exhibitors brought new products to the show, which were both innovative and sustainable.

The Good Plastic Company showcased sustainable panels from 100% recycled plastic, Wonderwall Studios had stunning wall panels made from salvaged wood, whilst Armourcoat launched its new natural clay lime plaster, Clime.

One of the standout trends of the show, Bio Magic, looked at how biodegradable ingredients continue to offer sustainable solutions with developments in colour dyeing and recycling processes, bringing new alternatives to the table using food waste.

Wildman & Bugby brought ecology leather to the show, which uses Olivenleder, a biodegradable tanning agent made using the fallen leaves of the Mediterranean olive harvest. Meanwhile Johnson Tan, one of 32 New Talents at the Show, created surfaces using food waste including eggshells and coffee to achieve delicate, subtle and translucent materials.

Indeed, one of the most visited and exciting areas of the Show was the New Talent section. Surface Design Show is committed to supporting and promoting up and coming designers in the materials sector. Sponsored by Canon UK and curated by Jennifer Castoldi, the 2022 show saw over 30 participants display a range of sophisticated and innovative designs from textile designs to augmented reality to 3D tiles. A recurring theme among many participants this year was the use of natural materials and dyes.

“I have found New Talent really helpful in terms of making new contacts. The organisation of the show has been great and really easy as a recent graduate to understand” Rebecca Robinson – Surface Designer

Amongst the 160 exhibitors the Italian Trade Agency in conjunction with Confindustria Marmomacchine presented a pavilion of 28 companies representing the Italian stone industry. Showcasing new, innovative and luxury materials including stunning white marble from Elite Stone, Limestone from Fato Stone and porphyry natural stone from Avisio Porfidi Srl representing the best of Made in Italy.

There was also a comprehensive talks programme, which included over 50 speakers from a range of design backgrounds. New for 2022 was the Legends Live sessions which saw industry leaders interviewing someone in or connected to the industry. The pairings included lighting designer Sally Storey being interviewed by Theresa Dowling, editor of FX Magazine, Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden in conversation with Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs and AHMM’s Paul Monaghan talking to Phil Coffey of Coffey Architects as the interviewees discussed their illustrious careers to date.

Winners of the 2022 Surface Design Awards were announced at a breakfast ceremony on the last day of the Show, where the BAFTA headquarters in London by Benedetti Architects took not only the award for Public Building Interior category but was also selected as the Supreme Winner.

The judges were impressed by the sensitive reconfiguration and repositioning of the original Victorian plasterwork and reuse of oak flooring whilst also introducing future facing solutions including Eyrise TM s350 Licrivision liquid crystal rooflight ‘smart’ insulated glass, which removes up to 80% of harmful rays.

Other winners included Maggie’s Southampton by AL_A, which won Light + Surface Exterior and Public Building Exterior and the Peacock Cellar restaurant in Shanghai which took the top honours in the Light + Surface Interior category.

Surface Design Show 2023 will take place at The Business Design Centre 7-9 February 2023