On the ground
Darren Genner from Minosa makes it a priority to attend an international trade fair at least every two years, stemming in part from an interest in travel, to assuage his natural curiosity, and to stay abreast of product and design possibilities. 2019 was the first time he attended ISH on the annual Australian International Design Tours (AIDT) experience, and found the trip to be thoroughly worthwhile.
‘They don’t do anything small in Europe for these shows, so it was very, very big!’ says the award-winning designer. ‘The experience was awesome, but it was different to what I was expecting in comparison to Milan.
‘The sections were very outlet driven, such as a hall full of strip drains. A lot of products, given our labelling systems and certification schemes, will never get to Australia, so you skip that and look at what is relevant.’
The exhibition space measured 275,000 square metres so planning how to navigate the enormous halls and crowds was essential. Mela-nie Gardener, AIDT tour leader and founder of the kitchenandbathroomblog, had ISH on her bucket list for years, and once there she meant to make the most of it.
‘We were super excited by the opportunity to visit,’ she says. ‘The show is larger than the Salone Bagno (bathroom) section of Salone del Mobile Milano (Milan Furniture Fair) and divided into pavilions. So it was really easy to work out the most relevant [areas] for us and to spend the most time there.’
Melanie adds that while a number of the leading manufacturers exhibit at both fairs, ISH also specifically caters to the Asian market, with whole pavilions set aside for non-European manufacturers.
‘ISH has a real bathroom focus. It’s also really interesting as it has a second stream that focuses on sustainable building practices, which you don’t get at Salone del Mobile.’
Melanie advises planning for organised stand tours with major brands, for example, Hansgrohe, Kaldewei, Victoria & Albert, Duravit, and Villeroy & Boch, which give visitors the opportunity to see, touch and hear about new products and innovations up close, as well as learn about which products can be expected to reach Australia.