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Trade Show Review: Out of the Ordinary

Trade Show Review: Out of the Ordinary

Top Drawer, the London-based show for design-led brands ticks all the boxes when it comes to must-see trade exhibitions. It’s buzzing, easily accessible and gives you an invaluable insight into the current design trends.

With the motto “Breaking Boundaries, Defining Trends” it’s also a great place to reflect upon the past season and tune into what the next few seasons might bring.

I you were planning on visiting the show but could not make it, the hashtag to follow is #outoftheordinary.

The exhibition layout was split into a few sections, including “Craft”, “Fashion” and “Greetings and Stationery”.

As I walked past each stall, all I could think of is how unique all brands are.

Meeting Exhibitors

As a blogger, I tend to head straight to the press lounge. Browsing through media packs of various exhibitors, I learned about notable commissions such as Kate Moss Swarovski Flapper Dress and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Coat of Arms. Both were designed and made by one of the exhibitors, a London-based company Hand and Lock, with history going back to 1767.

Later, as I walk through the “Pulse” section, which is packed with new talented designers, I wonder how many start-ups have the potential to create a sound brand that will be a trend-setter over the next few centuries.

Industry Experts

A stall worth mentioning was the ual: (University of the Arts London) stall.

ual: happens to be Europe’s greatest Art and Design university. Their stall with hand-picked selection of design products by nine of their students was truly inspiring. This was the 13th year of the university’s partnership with the show.

Other media partners and associations linked with the show include Attire Accessories magazine, Gift Focus magazine, the Craft Council and Greeting Cards Association.

Live Trends

If I were to highlight two characteristic of the show, it would be the focus on sustainability and emphasis on individuality.

Classic craftsmanship such as candle making and silversmithing blended in wonderfully with design products made with the use of cutting-edge technologies.

Two examples of modern technologies are 3D printing and utilising chemical reactions to give glass jewellery a unique look.

In the exhibition brochure I learned about the key trends identified by Flamingo, a global insight consultancy and the official partner of the show.

These trends include Omniwelness, which is the expansion of wellness beyond physical fitness in to a more holistic space.

Another trend is called Harmonious Systems. The focus of this trend is mainly on seeking products that bring innovation and nature together in harmony.

Learning from the Pros

Top Drawer visitors also had the chance to learn from top speakers, including industry experts from Selfridges, Heals, Oliver Bonas, the Craft Council and a few different high-end PR agents.

There were two separate lecture zones.

Design Talk was focused mainly on the creative aspects of design businesses.

At RetailFest, we had the chance to learn about practical business issues, such as creating a solid brand and getting your products seen online.

If you are a creative buyer focused on design products do keep an eye on the future dates of this show. You can already put one date in your diary –  The Spring / Summer 2020 Top Drawer is scheduled for 12-14 January in Olympia, Kensington, London. More information can be found on the trade show website


  1. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious
    what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
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    1. Ivana Mearns

      Hi Raina. Thanks for getting in touch. Our website is quite complex as it has a secure membership area with student login and e-commerce functions. It would be difficult to estimate what the cost could be without these functions. Maybe you could look at simpler options such as a wordpress blog? Good luck with setting up your blog.

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