May 19, 2009
[email protected]: The Elephant in the (Show)Room
The economy was on everyone’s minds at this year’s fair.
The whispers began early on Saturday morning. “Did you hear Herman Miller isn’t doing the show this year?” Pregnant pause. “Think it’s the economy?”
Amidst the glittering booths and the plastered-on trade-show smiles, there was a subtle but palpable concern over the economy throughout the 2009 ICFF. “How will this year’s fair compare with years past?” everyone wondered. And the obvious answer seemed to be: not very well. Jim Stockshill, who works the Hansgrohe booth, said things were “definitely slower” than year’s past, and most of the other exhibitors I spoke to agreed.
In Tom Dixon‘s booth, the sales pitch on the pressed-glass pendants included the oft-repeated phrase, “These are set at a really nice price point.” (And they are: $290 each, starting in October.)
Over in the designboom Mart, the tabletop displays featuring emerging designers drew some of the largest crowds. The products sell for under $100. Designers reported mixed results: some said they were making bank, others felt sales could be better.
In a booth featuring chairs from Norway, all products were 25 percent off—and the classic wood and seagrass Askel chair (above) was being offered at a special bargain. “We have an ICFF deal where you buy three and you get one free,” the booth attendant explained. Blue light specials at ICFF!