Wed, Oct

Talk, and he will listen

Here’s why the large-format print sector should be in conversation with Chris Newton, organiser of The Surface Design Show. The 2019 event takes place this month, drawing a crowd of designers and architects. Digital print will get an airing. But it could be a much bigger focus in 2020.

Want to get large-format digital print possibilities in front of designers and architects? Then go where they congregate. Like to the Surface Design Show in London. This year, only one print company is among its 150+ exhibitors - and that’s Belgian. None will speak, and are expected to visit either. Yet printing onto various surfaces is this sector’s thing. So shouldn’t we be more proactive in getting the message out there? Its organiser Chris Newton agrees we should, and he’s already started the ball rolling. 

Heard of Jennifer Castoldi? Well, she’s chief creative director of Trendease International, and at the Surface Design Show 2019 at the Business Design Centre in London this month (5-7 February) she will be delivering two presentations to an audience of creatives following conversations with Newton.

“Jennifer is a trend forecaster who I’ve known for a long time. She curates ‘new talent’ sections at many shows, and speaks on development trends. We began talking about digital print possibilities some time ago, and having seen the results of digital print around the world I could see it would have value for surface decoration.

“My question was, ‘What does a designer/architect want to see and hear on the topic?” What we decided was that Jennifer would be on the 2019 speaking programme, explaining the possibilities of digital print.”

So, on the afternoon of 6 February, Castoldi will be on the main stage delivering the presentation ‘Disruptive Design in Digital Print Presents New Opportunities’, in which she will share stories, and look at technologies and materials that will transform the way interior designers and architects approach new projects.  Later the same day she will be back on stage delivering the talk ‘Rocking the Boat with Innovative Surfaces’ which will bring together movers and shakers to discuss how new materials and processes can break the mould of traditional design.

That’s great. But large-format digital print could be so much more of a focus at future Surface Design Shows. What about having a pavilion of printed surfaces, perhaps with areas where sector ‘ambassadors’ could talk to designers and architects about the world of possibilities?

“I think that a print pavilion is certainly possible for the next show if we all start talking,” says Newton, who has in the past had conversations with Fespa about doing something like Printeriors within The Surface Design Show. Initial talks fizzled but that’s not to say there isn’t mileage in the idea.

“I looked at Printeriors at Fespa and it didn’t excite me enough at the time to continue, but I can see how it could be an attraction for our visitors to have a print pavilion. I can see that they perhaps wouldn’t go to a Fespa, but they come here anyway so we’d be brining the print message to them.

“We’d have to ask, what would be on show, and what would the messaging be? It’s the printers who really need to be here, perhaps sponsored in some way by the print machine manufacturers and surface substrate people. But you have to remember that designers like to talk to designers, so you have to have people who hit that note. It’s why I think the talks this year from Jennifer Castoldi will work - she can speak their language. If that leads to something like a pavilion of print in 2020 I’d have no problem with that.

“Take what we’ve done with lighting. There wasn’t an architectural show that covered lighting really, yet it fits so well with surfaces, so five years ago we created Light School as part of the bigger show. The idea is that the architects and designers already coming here can learn about the relationship between light and surface. The talks - where designers and architects themselves talk about lighting - are packed. There’s no reason why something focusing on print couldn’t work in the same vein,” says Newton. 

So, should this sector be thinking bigger, and starting to seriously look at how it can capitalise on such an opportunity to get its message in front of key potential clients?