Top Drawer Spring 2016 is one of the big events in the UK retail buying calendar. Retailers and suppliers from all over the country and overseas descend on Olympia London for three days of searching, selling and networking.
Attending these shows as a visitor or exhibitor can be daunting, exciting and of course exhausting but with a bit of planning and thought they can be extremely rewarding too. This year's Top Drawer was curated slightly differently to that of previous years with a new 'Food Emporium' section and extended 'Spotted' area.
Here at The GBE we visit shows such as Top Drawer with the aim of predominantly finding new British made brands to work with and we also enjoy spotting new trends and catching up with our existing producers and retail clients.
This year we found a great selection of exciting British made products and businesses and it was great to visit the show this year and hear that people were recognising The GBE and were really keen to learn more.
One such company was Magic Mirror who are making their full length mirrors in Bristol and were featured in Top Drawer's 'Spotted' section. The colourful branding and multifunctional uses for the 'Festival Edition' mirror were proving a huge success and we predict these will prove popular with not only festival goers but anyone who travels regularly.
The phrase 'getting your ducks in a line' sprang to mind when we visited Dana Finnigan's stand in 'Spotted'.
Dana has been concentrating on printed bathroom suites, inspired by traditional Victorian techniques of surface pattern design and using her unique colour combinations, the range is a bold move away from the traditional white suites we see so commonly in our homes and hotels. With Dana's Glasgow School of Art background and her passion for Art Nouveau and Art Deco we're confident her new update to the everyday white bathroom suite will soon be seen everywhere!
Toolally Jewellery is a new exciting brand with credentials already from Vogue and retailers queuing up to stock their fantastic earrings and necklaces. Based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, the company takes flat pieces of perspex to create their stunning, colourful statement pieces.
Reflecting on the show, Mags Walker from Toolally commented, "We had an amazing first visit to Top Drawer and signed up an incredible 18 new stockists, all of whom ordered at the show. We've had orders since from a further 3 - so all good I think."
We also spoke to Caroline Bennett from Debono & Bennett who were also exhibiting at the show for the first time, Caroline commented, "It makes a change from printing screens in the studio!" Debono & Bennett specialise in adding glitter and sparkle to their home and gift ranges, their cheeky sense of humour and fluorescent colours are brought together with their unique drawing style making their products instantly recognisable.
It was a real pleasure to meet both Toolally and Debono & Bennett and we're looking forward to seeing more from them in 2016.
Walking the show we have become accustomed to not only looking for new products but also great ways in which businesses are communicating their brands and displaying their work. Glitter had been used by quite a few exhibitors as a way of drawing attention to their stand, whether that be via a glittery stencil of their business name or the entire stand walls covered in glitter; it definitely caught your attention with the glare of the halogen lights sending glitter sparkles everywhere.
Another material used by a few exhibitors we noticed was chipboard. With its texture and warm colour tones it really worked well at setting off products that were solid black or white. Cheap and easy to use it was an obvious choice for a select few savvy exhibitors and we will definitely be looking to incorporate this look back at The GBE Showroom.
A trend we noticed amongst some of the jewellery makers, especially those making their items in the UK was the inclusion of their tools in their displays. We spotted a couple of people who communicated the hand crafted and artisan nature of their products by including their physical tools in their stand design.
We think this is a great way of incorporating the story of how the products are made and gives people a talking point when visiting the stand. As well as using pliers to tell the story of their brand The Old Farmhouse Jewellery used props to display their work, they used printer's trays and strings of lightbulbs, not only adding interest to their stand but inspiring retailers with ideas for their stores too.
Taking it one step further was Amanda Coleman who had displayed her jewellery on bespoke stands which she also made available to retailers to buy in a variety of sizes. This idea immediately relieves the retailer of the concern of how to display her products and equally enhances the brand when standing amongst other brands in a store. It may not be to everyone's taste and it may not suit every store but we're sure for some it adds a great benefit to buying Amanda Coleman Jewellery.
We spotted a couple of trends that we're predicting will prove popular in 2016, wood cut items and gift crackers.
Wood cut products from The Pop Up Card Company have seen a surge in sales since the introduction of full colour designs to their range. Hanging mobiles and desk tidies were also spotted at the show made from self assembly, wood cut pieces. The quick, simple, tactile qualities of wood cut products we are sure will only see their popularity increase in 2016.
We also noticed crackers being pulled in the form of greetings cards and luxury gift crackers that can be used any time of year for any celebration. Raspberry Blossom launched their range of British made crackers at the show and their new products come filled with British made gifts.
Birds of all shapes and sizes are a constant source of inspiration for product and creative developers and this time at Top Drawer parrots and exotic feathered friends appeared to be the popular influence.
We're always looking for new British made products and trends and ideas that can inspire not only makers but also retailers. Here at The GBE we're passionate about promoting great businesses and resources that can support British manufacturing and Top Drawer is one such event that works hard to promoted British talent. We're looking forward to developing our relationships with everyone we met at Spring Top Drawer 2016 and we're looking forward to what the Autumn show will deliver.
If you'd like to see more about our inspiration and ideas from Spring Top Drawer 2016 then head over to our Pinterest account and you can keep up with where we're headed next via out Twitter and Facebook accounts.
As always if you have any comments or feedback for us or would like to point us in the direction of a great British made product then please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org