Decorex design show upholstery and interior design promo shots

Decorex 2020 Review – 10 Reasons Why This Year’s Show Was A Triumph For The Design Industry

Decorex International is a cornerstone of British design. Each year, welcoming professionals from across the world to showcase and discuss new trends and ideas.

In the wake of Covid-19, Decorex 2020 took the brave decision to transfer its entire event to an all-virtual format.

Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit the live show before, knows this was not an easy feat.

Taking on the unenviable task, the Decorex team worked within this year’s restrictive circumstances to put on a full 3 day online event. Featuring live content, 3D displays, networking, and many other interactive elements.

So was Decorex Virtual a success?

Simply put, yes.

But what exactly made it a success?

Lets find out with our 10 reasons why Decorex 2020 was a triumph for the design industry.


1. Physical Distancing Not Social Distancing

Its safe to say that we have all experienced social distancing of some kind recently. No matter how you feel about it, it has had an impact on everything around us.

Even Decorex Virtual is a direct result of this. But throughout this year’s show, in meetings or the 3D experiences, there was a conscious effort to use the term ‘physical distancing’ over social.

But why is this so important?

Well, by swapping social for physical, it asks us to rethink how we look at distancing. Instead of basing the strength of our social connections on physical presence, we should think of them as something greater than that.

Decorex has always had a strong community spirit, so its reassuring to see this reiterated here, even in the simplest of fashions.

2. Renewed Focus On Sustainability

As with previous Decorex shows, there as been a growing emphasis on Sustainable design.

If sustainability is a high priority for you, then you will be glad to hear it remained an integral theme this year too.

Clean coean waves breaking on shores.

Sustainable Design

While discussions on sustainability were prominent in many parts of the show, for us there were three key panels that really stood out on the topic.

The first panel A Sustainable Future, looked to demystify sustainability. In particular, defining the necessary balance sustainability creates between environmental, social and economic factors. The panellists also touched on the problematic throwaway fashion culture and offered essential advice how to navigate to sustainable practice.

The second panel Weaving Sustainability Into Design & Craft: How Can We Do Better? explored the influence and future of sustainability for the design and craft sectors. The panellists talked through sourcing eco-friendly materials and upcycling ideas. Most interestingly, they brought up the difficulties in selling sustainability to clients. Something that we will all need to consider in the imminent future.

The final panel Designing Sustainable Hospitality & Tourism shed light on the hospitality’s efforts. The panellists noted the recent paradigm shift towards sustainable design. Pinpointing, Covid-19 and heightened customer awareness as the kickstart for the industry to move towards sustainable change.

Most importantly, each of the aforementioned talks provided practical steps forward that any individual or business watching could quite easily adopt and follow. This is essential for achieving sustainability.

3. Diversity For The Win

Diversity and representation within the industry is a necessary and important discussion to have. Now more than ever.

Decorex prioritised the conversation with its Encouraging Diversity In Design panel.

The panel included BIID President Lester Bennett, designers Sophie Ashby, Alexandria Dauley and Verity Coleman, who expertly articulated the current state of diversity in design.

During the panel, they each talked about their personal experiences working in the UK interior design profession. Including the successes and struggles they have encountered, as well as hopes for the future of the industry.

The panellists also suggested how best to encourage greater awareness of diversity. This included outreach to schools and universities, through intern/apprentice programmes. Nurturing young diverse minds to consider design as a solid career option.

This was a truly thought-provoking insight into diversity in design. With more practical discussions like this, we can invest in a brighter more inclusive future. Creating an equitable playing field for creativity to run free.

4. Virtual Playground

Decorex Virtual 2020 digital platform display

So as we mentioned, Decorex 2020 marked the first time in the show’s 42 history that it was held on an all-digital platform. But how was the experience?

Well, it was certainly different.

Its arguable that no platform could ever replace the kinetic energy from a live crowd or bustling halls. That said, the new online system did compensate for this, through a personalised schedule, and industry talks over Zoom. Which actually made for quite the intimate experience. It will be interesting to see whether future shows will have a digital element after things return to normal.

5. 3D Experience – Hotel 2035

Decorex 2020 had not one but two 360 tours for attendees to enjoy. The first of which was Hotel 2035.

The hotel was compiled of conceptual spaces to depict the future of hospitality design. Form followed function, with new-age interior designs and themes of well-being and optimism. Visitors were able to navigate through various parts of the hotel. Including the lobby, lounge bar, restaurant and cocktail bar.

Beginning the Hotel 2035 tour, visitors immediately entered the lobby. Delivering a stunning first impression, the lobby was a wide contemporary open space. Illuminated by bright white light and curated plants suspended from the ceiling.

Hotel 2035 virtual tour entrance

Lobby entrance – Hotel 2035

Next was the eclectic lounge bar. Which tied together themes of well-being, eco-awareness and social connection. Divided into two halves, with a ‘work’ and ‘play’ zones, the lounge really encouraged a mix of interactions from its patrons.

Virtual lounge bar Decorex tour

Lounge bar – Hotel 2035

On to the restaurant, suitably named ‘restore’. Providing a delectable taste of what future dining may bring. With sustainability and positive social impact on the menu.

Finally, if you took the virtual lift, you would find yourself in the esteemed cocktail bar. Now the bar has always been a personal favourite of ours at previous shows, so we had lofty expectations.

As with real life right now, patrons were asked to don virtual PPE.

Hotel 2035 Virtual tour with PPE

Virtual PPE – Hotel 2035

Not your standard issue I can assure you.

Once dressed appropriately, visitors were able to explore the virtual space at their leisure. The designers said they wanted to use this space for contemplation about an uncertain future. Asking guests not to be afraid of the unknown but instead look for new opportunities within it.

Overall a delightfully fun and unique virtual experience, that delivered a feast for the eyes.

6.3D Experiences – Great Escapes

Now the second 360 tour, the Great Escapes was another imaginative treat. Here, Five talented designers were given absolute artistic freedom to create digitally rendered design spaces based on their ultimate happy place.

Cloud 9 By Campbell Rey – Cloud 9 was a cosy cocktail lounge, atop of a mythical early 20th century skyscraper in New York City.

Surrounded by panoramic skyline views, the lounge presented a tranquil escape from the bustling city below. The designers took cues from 1980’s glamour, filling the setting with rich materials, such as lacquered wall panels, and thickly textured carpets.

360 digital tour of New York Apartment.

Cloud 9 By Campbell Rey

Barbados Beach Villa by Alexandria Daule (Dauley Design) – Set against the stunning backdrop of the West Coast of Barbados, this escape was an exquisite beach villa. You could immediately tell the designer took great care here, to create a loving personal space that prioritised comfort and living.

From the white sand beaches just outside, to the azure waters providing ambient sounds, and watching the lush tropical fauna gently rock, it truly made for a perfect escape.

Great Escapes Coastal retreat 360 tour

Barbados Beach Villa by Alexandria Daule (Dauley Design)

UKIYO yacht by Elicyion – A haven out at sea, makes for a beautiful getaway. The space uses a mix of crystalline and weathered materiality with soft forms and natural curves to establish a serene atmosphere. Bon voyage!

Interior design in yacht space 360 tour Decorex 2020

UKIYO yacht by Elicyion

Gothic Folly by Henriette Von Stockhausen (VSP Interiors) – Focusing on an escape closer to home, this space made for the perfect English countryside hideaway. With deep reds, customized wallpaper and character for days, this space provided a dream like fluidity to hibernate away from the world.

Gothic building exterior 360 tour

Gothic Folly by Henriette Von Stockhausen (VSP Interiors)

Coastal Retreat by Louise Wicksteed – Celebrating a simpler existence and a connection to nature, this retreat made for another ideal getaway. The space celebrates its setting and uses a simple palette of a natural materials. Only offset by an eclectic mix of collected furniture.

Beach retreat

Coastal Retreat by Louise Wicksteed

This really was a marvellous achievement by all involved, and has us thinking of booking a holiday!

7. Zoom Panels

Decorex is typically full of interesting panels for attendees to take part in. However, this year’s presentation had to be a little different. With many talks being delivered over Zoom instead of a live crowd.

Admittedly, this felt a little strange at first, but actually became something quite special

How so?

Well by watching the pre-recorded talks over Zoom, it created a relaxing and personal atmosphere. Which, in our opinion, truly allowed ideas to flow, articulate and be absorbed.

The on-demand nature was also very helpful. As usually, there is no time to attend every single meeting you would like to, but here you could. This meant we were able to watch more panels than ever before over the 3 days and beyond. In some ways, we hope this feature can continue going forward.

8. The Strength of Networking

In previous year’s, networking at Decorex is more casual in its approach but as with everything else, this year demanded a new way of thinking.

Decorex Virtual hosted numerous networking events for designers and suppliers to chat.

You could take part in the speed networking or set up individual meetings. The versatility of this operation masterfully made up for the lack of physical interaction. And reiterates the earlier point about ‘physical distancing’ over social.

With networking becoming even more essential for the industry, it was a pleasure to see it remain present this year too.

9. Exhibitor and Product Directory Showcase

Decorex 2020 product list screen

Though the halls of the Olympia London were empty, the exhibitor list and product directory certainly was not!

With a full curated list to browse, this was a fun opportunity for discovering creative collections launching this year or to re-rediscover much-loved classics from throughout the industry.

A personal highlight for us was discovering a few new fabrics. This included the retro Rhapsody Collection, Diverse Design and Mirabliss.

Decorex fabric samples

(Clockwise) Mirabliss, Carolina Monarch, Rhapsody, Diverse.

You can catch up with our detailed thoughts about each of these in our #FabricFriday on the Aspect Facebook Page.

10. Looking to Future Generations

Finally, there was a clear emphasis on the value of future generations. In many of the talks, designers would often point to the next generation as being key in solving issues within the industry.

Whether through diversity programmes, internships or general advice and encouragement, its time for all of us designers to consider how we can best pass on our expertise to the future.

Decorex 2020 Final ThoughtsDecorex virtual lobby display - pink hotel lobby


Overall, Decorex virtual was a fantastic experience and true triumph for the industry. With each of us able to take different things away from the event. It not only managed to bring the design community together, but also may have even paved the way for new traditions to arise.

While we hope some digital elements remain, we really look forward to reuniting under one roof in 2021.

Thanks for reading.