ICFF’s Ongoing Success Spawns New NY Fairs

The 17th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), held this past May in New York, attracted a record-breaking number of visitors. Its success has given rise to plans for an off-site, supplementary trade show, the International Interiors NY (IINY), scheduled to debut in 2006. When it launches, the IINY will be the latest in the growing number of design exhibits and events—including the Italian effort I Saloni Worldwide NY, staged for the first time this year—that dovetail with the ICFF.

Attendance of ICFF 2005 was up 17% from last year, with over 21,000 trade professionals having registered for the event. Additionally, this edition was the most geographically diverse ever, with exhibitors from over 29 countries, including contingents from Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Canada, Great Britain, and Argentina.

“We had a great mix of new and previously established companies this year,” says Phil Robinson, senior vice president at George Little Management (GLM), which produces the fair. (Metropolis is the fair’s U.S. media sponsor and authors both its directory and off-site design guide, ICFF Connected.) “Along with the winners of the ICFF Editor’s Awards, it made for an extremely positive show.”

This success occurred despite the absence of many of the usual Italian exhibitors, who instead took part in a separate event, I Saloni WorldWide NY, put together by Cosmit, the organizing body for the Milan Furniture Fair. The new fair, which was free and open to the public, was Cosmit’s initial effort to extend its I Saloni brand internationally (a second I Saloni WorldWide is scheduled for Oct. 12-15 in Moscow). Although the New York I Saloni was not as well-attended as expected, a Cosmit representative says the company is looking forward to planning next year’s edition. It is not clear if, at that time, the event will involve a partnership with the ICFF.

Despite national ties, some Italian companies, such as Magis, chose to exhibit at this year’s ICFF. “We hope the Italians will continue to have a presence at the fair, whether individually or through Cosmit,” says GLM’s Robinson.

Next year, GLM, in partnership with Reed Exhibitions, will introduce a third fair during ICFF: IINY, a trade event that will feature traditional interiors companies from around the world. Like the ICFF, the IINY will be open to the public on its final day, but its focus will be on architects and designers.

If all goes as planned, this partnership between ICFF and IINY will bolster New York’s ICFF week, making it an essential resource for architects, interior designers, and other trade professionals. It will also help to further move design into the public eye in response to what seems to be a steadily mounting awareness. Indeed: for the first time this year, Mayor Michael B. Bloomberg pronounced ICFF week “Design Week” in New York City.

“Ultimately, North American consumers are becoming increasingly design-savvy, and this [creates] a need for more events like ICFF,” Robinson states. “Looking at something like the success of the iPod, and realizing that people are interested in good design, it’s not surprising that ICFF continues to grow.”

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