Roving reporter Denre Bruins writes: Since Charlotte had to present one of the Gift of the Year awards at Spring Fair, I took the opportunity to take a short flight to the Netherlands and visit the February edition of showUP, the contemporary home and gift exhibition inspired by Dutch and Scandinavian design. Although it was still a sunny day, the temperatures had dropped to the lowest in recent years and I was glad to get through the doors in to a warm hall with lots of friendly faces.
The setup was slightly different this time, but with food stands and large sitting area’s in almost every corner it felt like a good moment to start my trip with a fresh orange juice and a piece of apple tart (the sandwiches were just a bit to exotic for me, but probably a treat for most).
I was joined by a lovely lady who runs her own gift shop in the centre of Amsterdam and who was there to visit some of her regular suppliers but did not really have a chance to look around further. Shame, I was hoping to get some valuable information about the hottest items in town, but I found my own way easily enough and began my tour of the show with someone who sells maps featuring lovely iconic buildings from different Dutch cities.
I then set out walking around the show in every direction and really explore. Once again there was a lot to see and be inspired by. Many new and upcoming designers were displaying their latest creations and for many of them the ethical aspect – fair trade, sustainability, organic ingredients and environmental consciousness – was very important.
For example these lovely cards by “Pretty Orange”, designed in the Netherlands, are produced by women from a vulnerable background in the east of India, to provide them with an income to help rebuild their lives.
Or how about these woodcarvings by Madumadu, also designed in the Netherlands but made on the island of Bali, where one of the owners of this company used to live and has direct access to local craftmanship to bring new opportunities for the people there.
Then there are these colourful gifts by Titicaca, all handmade and produced in Bolivia and Peru by small scale producers, who the company owners know personally.
These are all companies bringing jobs and money to the people who need it the most around the world, delivering beautiful, unique home and gift products with an impeccable provenance and that special feel-good factor.
For some reason, visiting this edition of showUP did not just feel like a creative fest, but there was also a sense of hope. I quickly found out why I got this feeling when I ran into a small stand with uniquely styled sets of dried flowers captured in vintage glassworks and frames. Collected from travelling the world, without harming nature, the company was called “Field of Hope”.
Other things that stood out to me where the “Mouse House”, which comes with books and will soon feature on a British TV show, so make sure you are the first to get it in store and capture the new audience. I also loved the Treasure-box by Wido Mossou and the luxury accessories by Vitra.
Once again I was happy to be part of showUP, where I saw plenty of old friends and also made some new ones. If you have not had time to visit this great event, you certainly should try and make some time to do so. There is so much to see that is not yet available on the English market giving shop owners the opportunity to make a difference on the high street.
Some British retailers we spoke to were concerned that showUP clashes with Spring Fair. Whilst the dates look tricky on paper, in fact it would be quite easy to do a day in Amsterdam (or the weekend if you’re feeling like a party and tour of this great city!) before flying back to Birmingham or London and heading up to The NEC. showUP can be visited fairly conveniently in a day, leaving you plenty of time to do more sourcing on home ground, full of inspiration from some of the best and most forward thinking contemporary designers working in the market today.
For more information about the next edition of showup visit the website: https://www.showup.nl/en-gb