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The Ultimate Guide: What to do at Surface Design Show 2023

If you’re wondering what to do and visit at this year’s Surface Design Show in London, we’ve built you a comprehensive itinerary of things to do during your visit. Get ready for the best interiors exhibition of the season!

January 25, 2023
Image by Informare

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The time has come! The Surface Design Show is a must-see event for architects, designers and other industry professionals. Held in London on 7–9 February 2023, the show features the latest in surface materials and technologies for the interior design and architecture industry. With over 180 exhibitors showcasing the latest in surface materials, including ceramics, glass, metal, natural stone, and textiles, the show is a great opportunity to see the latest products and trends and to speak with industry experts.

This year will be even more special than last… Surface Design Show is partnering with us at Portaire! We’re sponsoring their registration process (which is only one click away here), to bring designers and suppliers one step closer to connecting and sparking new ideas together. Once you register, you’ll be able to see our name in the foyer and lanyards – and more importantly, you’ll see our mark in the magic of the show. We might be trying to digitalise some of the industry’s processes, but connecting in person? That will be with us, forever.

Now, this interior design and architecture exhibition is three days long. That might sound like a lot of time, but once you’re in there, you’ll realise there is so much to do beyond looking at the stands. Let us walk through the must do’s in this trade show.

Exhibitors’ stands

The first beautiful maze you’ll have to tackle will be the exhibitor stands. And we only say tackle because it will be difficult to take your eyes off any of them! You have 180+ exhibitors to look at this year, but if you’d like a recommendation, look for Clayworks at Stand 420 – their products are stunning, and a must-see for Wabi Sabi and rustic fans!

Surface Spotlight Live

The Surface Spotlight Live (SSL) corridor at the Surface Design Show is a highlight for visitors, offering a hands-on experience with innovative and tactile materials. The theme for SSL in 2023 is "Shaping Communities," which aims to improve surroundings through collaborative design solutions. The corridor will feature four elements: Common Ground, which balances aesthetics with sustainability; Let's Talk Tactility, which explores nature-inspired patterns and textures; Shared Experiences, which showcases interactive and customizable designs; and Collective Thinking, which focuses on post-consumer waste and new material combinations. The corridor is curated by trend and colour expert Sally Angharad and will present a selection of surfaces, finishes, and materials that celebrate creative thinking and ethical innovation. Also featured at the show is the Stone Tapestry, a natural stone showcase by Squire & Partners and Stone Federation, and a materials installation by Creative agency, Colour Hive.

Main stage events and talks

The Main Stage is the beating heart of the Surface Design Show, featuring discussions, panels, trend predictions, and updates on the latest advancements in surface design. Throughout the three-day event, the Main Stage will host 18 presentations and more than 40 speakers, providing inspiration and knowledge to an audience of approximately 1,000 architects and designers. The Main Stage, designed by Emily Skinner of Smile Plastics, will not only host the main events but also be the location for the Legends Live series in partnership with Mix Interiors.

The Stone Gallery

A leading event in the industry, the exhibition's focus on natural stone through the Stone Gallery draws businesses from the UK, Italy, Europe, and beyond. Stone Federation Great Britain, whose Knowledge Hub serves as a hub for its member enterprises, formally supports The Stone Gallery. The Italian Stone Pavilion, curated by Confindustria Marmomacchine, will return to the Stone Gallery in 2023. Stone Tapestry, a custom installation project created by Squire & Partners, explores cutting-edge textures, light, colour, and pattern to build a tapestry of motivational materials from all over the world.

Opening debate on Day 1

On Tuesday, February 8 2023 at 6:30 pm you’ll be able to attend the Opening night debate. The debate will examine the connection between the places we live and our actions. Can we address issues of social inequality, enhance daily life and promote environmental regeneration by altering and rebuilding places and their infrastructure? If so, what disciplines, skills and methods are required? Is a shift towards "deep collaboration" necessary? How can we encourage and empower change? Join the panel as they bring together experts in the fields of communications, social planning, and design to discuss these topics.

PechaKucha evening on Day 2

Attend the Main Stage on Wednesday, February 8 2023 at 6:30 pm for PechaKucha - Shaping Communities. The event will feature a lineup of talented designers sharing their thoughts on the theme of "Shaping Communities" and its importance in today's world. The format of the event is fast-paced with each speaker’s presentation being 20 slides for 20 seconds each.

Surface Design Awards on Day 3

The 2023 Surface Design Awards have selected 43 projects from 10 countries as finalists. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on February 9 at 9 AM.

The finalists were selected from over 130 entries in 11 categories, including Commercial Building, Housing, Light + Surface, Public Building, Landscape + Public Realm, Temporary Structures and Architectural Photography. The judges were looking for projects that demonstrated a strong approach to materiality and balanced sustainability with innovative materials. The majority of finalists are from the UK, but there are also finalists from India, Australia, Canada, China, France, Latvia, Spain, Somaliland, and the UAE. Studio AVT Architects, Emil Eve Architects and Brimelow McSweeney Architects are finalists in multiple categories. 

The Architectural Photography Award, first introduced in 2022, saw a significant increase in entries both from the UK and internationally. Tickets for the awards ceremony, which will be hosted by Jack Pringle, Managing Director of Studio Pringle, are now available.

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Overall, the Surface Design Show is a must-attend event for anyone involved in the built environment. It offers an opportunity to see the latest products and trends, to network with other professionals, and o find inspiration for your next project. Whether you're an architect, designer, or supplier, the show has something incredible to offer.

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