Design fairs make big promises to participants and visitors alike: creative rejuvenation, intelligent debate, matchmaking for employees and partners, convenience for major buyers, a boon to design education, and for tourists, fun. Design fairs represent a new wave in how designers promote themselves. In the past three years, Europe has gone from the twin hegemony of London’s 100% Design and Milan’s Saloni Internazionale del Mobileâ€”both furniture fairsâ€”to a calendar thick with inclusive design events, many in the EU’s emerging member states. As governments, sponsors, universities, and designers pour funds into these events, it’s worth asking: Do they really work? What are they even aiming for?
Jude Stewart ponders in a Print magazine article (reprinted by Business Week) if design fairs are really effective in drumming up business, boosting education, and promoting awareness of tomorrow’s next design capitals.