Surface Design Show 2019

Posted in Events on 21 February, 2019

The 2019 edition of Surface Design Show, which took place at London’s Business Design Centre from 5 – 7 February, gave a platform to more surface material and lighting specialists than ever before.

More than 150 exhibitors from across Europe put their best surface, material and lighting products on display and over 5200 architects, designers and specifiers from 47 countries visited to explore the variety of interior and exterior surface materials, lighting design, development and innovation.

Over the course of Surface Design Show a packed schedule of insightful and entertaining panel discussions, informative CPDs and talks, as well as trend forecast. Presenters included New London Architecture and RIBA who hosted the Opening Night Debate; Chris Dyson who presented the PechaKucha Evening; Hannah Malein of Colour Hive; Oliver Heath of Oliver Heath Design and Daniel Hopwood representing Design Guild Mark, all kept visitors engaged as they educated on ways of thinking about materials, current industry issues and trends.

80% of the 2019 show’s visitors hail from the architecture and design sector, with 20 of the top 30 AJ100 architectural firms represented. Almost a third were visiting with a live project in mind. 77% of the audience had purchasing or specifying authority.

“Fantastic diversity of presentations @surfacethinking #pechakucha event yesterday evening on ‘Identities & Boundaries’ – from the physical to social, political + philosophical!” @czwg architects via Twitter

Since 2013 the Show has hosted the Surface Design Awards, now recognised as one of the most respected events in the design calendar. The 2019 Awards received 197 entries from 22 countries, including America, Italy, China and India.

In a ceremony held over breakfast, the beautiful new Maggie’s Centre St Barts, London was declared the Supreme Winner, capturing the hearts and minds of the stellar panel of judges from the world of architecture and design. A beacon of design in the charity sector, the building by Steven Holl Architects was shortlisted in the Public Building Exterior category, gaining acclaim from the judges, including architect Christophe Egret of Studio Egret West, who stated “You really feel that a person dealing with cancer might feel elevated in this space”.

The 2019 awards ceremony was presented by architecture and design writer Aidan Walker, who cited the specialist focus of the show as key to its success now and for the future: “Surface Design has become one of the most compelling areas of innovation and imagination in design and architecture in the last few years. Driven by technology on one hand and the imperative for sustainability on the other, the application of new techniques and materials to cladding, walls, floors and ceilings has enlivened practice in a way unimaginable ten years ago. Surface Design Show is perfectly positioned to express, exploit and support this rich seam of imagination and creativity. I see a great future for both the show and its Awards scheme.”

When asked, 66% of attendees said that they visit the show to discover new trends. With that in mind, and continuing a fruitful partnership with the show, trend expert Sally Angharad presented Surface Spotlight Live, a mini-exhibition titled One Of a Kind featuring a series of thought-provoking and innovative materials that go beyond aesthetics to promote meaningful experiences. Exhibits included tiles made of 90% atmospheric carbon ( and a terrazzo style board made using waste woodchip (

Significant trends identified by Sally Angharad include; immersive colours, charred effects, weathered metals, nurturing surfaces, clay pinks and marbling techniques.

“An extremely inspiring visit, checking out all the innovative design ideas encourage us to push our boundaries of design.” @leonard_design via Twitter

Both Stone Gallery, supported by Stone Federation GB, and Light School, supported by the Institution of Lighting Professionals, provided dedicated forums for visiting architects and designers to touch, compare and learn about innovative lighting and natural stone products.

“Had an awesome time at Surface Design Show. Discovered some fabulous finishes, listened to some great talks… feeling inspired.” @gandt_interiors via Twitter

New to Surface Design Show was the New Talent area curated Chief Creative Director at Trendease International, Jennifer Castoldi. The exhibitors here included Enis Kiev, whose plastic tiles are made from post-consumer plastic warmed then compressed into multi-coloured marble and PHEE, who turn sea grasses that wash up on Greek beaches into a beautiful, organic material that can be used to make both surface materials for furniture, floors and accessories – as demonstrated by PHEE Founder Stavros Tsompanidis’ own sea-grass spectacles!

The New Talent exhibitor Tanya Vacarda, of surface specialist Vacarda Designs, summed up her experience as being a wholly positive one: “The show was great. I have got a few custom orders already and lots of interest so far. More importantly, and more exciting than anything, I have met awesome people, made contacts and got tonnes of ideas for future projects,material uses and collaborations….fashion, table surfaces, fusion wall coverings, kitchen units…the sky is the limit.“

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