Tag: Rob Kirkbride

January 3, 2017   Posted by: Indy

Bellow Press partners with Independent to bring North American Innovation to Clerkenwell Design Week

Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) in London has become one of the premiere events on the contract furnishings calendar. It is one of the few exhibitions held in the world that fulfills its promise of delivering the architecture and design community. The breakdown of who attends CDW is telling: Of the 60,000 or so visitors from 72 countries, 88% are architects and designers.

In many ways, CDW is more like the events surrounding iSaloni than a traditional furnishings show. In addition to furniture and furnishings — new products are launched here — visitors to CDW will find art installations, programming and a lot of parties.

Bellow Press, publishers of Business of Furniture and Workplaces magazine, and Independent Overseas Market Support are organizing the first ever North American Commercial Interiors Exhibit at Clerkenwell Design Week 2017. The exhibit will be curated by Bellow Press to show off the most innovative products North America has to offer the world.

“What struck me as I wandered around from permanent showrooms and temporary exhibitions was the absence of many of the most innovative North American commercial interiors companies.” says Rob Kirkbride, editor-in-chief at Bellow Press. “It is a shame, because designers I spoke to are very interested in specifying North American brands. The designs that are dreamt up in Clerkenwell spawn projects around the world, and the designers simply have no connection to the best from North America.”

The North American Exhibit will be as unique as the event itself. Those chosen to show at CDW 2017 will pick a single product to exhibit, one that focuses on innovation. For a low all inclusive cost, the product will be shipped to London from Independent’s Chicago hub, displayed on a professionally designed stand in a prime show location with other complimentary North American manufacturers, included in a pre-show CDW guide published in Business of Furniture and Workplaces magazines (along with a complimentary full page ad) and promoted heavily by show organizers. There will also be a North American themed party, think craft beer and BBQ.

Many small and mid-sized North American companies may have never done business overseas or even considered it. If needed, the organizers of the North American Exhibit have partner companies that can help to follow up on sales leads and projects in London and around the world – on a transactional basis.

So how do you get a product into the North American Commercial Interiors Exhibit? Reach out to Rob Kirkbride at rob@bellow.press or Stewart Brown at s.brown@indyfrt.com for any questions you might have about the event.

International firms want your products, but they have to know your brand to specify them.

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March 25, 2015   Posted by: Indy

Freight disruption on West Coast causes Furniture delay

Extract of article in www.mmqb.com Monday March 23, 2015  by Rob Kirkbride


When West Coast dockworker unions decided to stage a slowdown to protest stagnant contract talks, it tied up seaports responsible for handling about $1 trillion in cargo annually, mostly imports from Asia. That might not seem like a big deal to the office furniture industry, unless, of course, you want those casters made in Vietnam or the seat pans made in China that you need to build your chairs.

The office furniture industry like every industry is reliant on offshore components. That means shipping disputes like the one that involved 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle, can affect the industry more than many understand. The ports affected by the labor dispute handle about one-quarter of all U.S. international trade, including a great deal of office furniture.

The strike ended late last month, but Stewart Brown of Independent Freight International, said the ripples from the labor strife will take months to smooth out. Brown specializes in handling freight for the office furniture industry. ‘Equipment is still tight, he said. It might take another month of two to get the affected vessels back on schedule and get containers where you need them. Hopefully, we dont have to face this kind of excitement again anytime soon.

The standoff was a nightmare for U.S. businesses that use the West Coast ports to import and export their goods. For weeks, vessels carrying thousands of containers sat on the waterfront waiting to be loaded or unloaded and the problem grew exponentially worse when the union temporarily stopped all loading and unloading of ships last month.

When ships are sitting off the West Coast waiting to be unloaded because of a labor dispute, it throws the whole system off. About 68 percent of all shipping containers come through those ports. If the containers are not coming onshore, they are not going back out with exports either. That means outgoing office furniture shipments also were delayed by the strike.

Added to the shipping problems, East Coast ports, which were used to ease the strike backlog, were quickly clogged by the increase in traffic. The East Coast ports also slogged through a harsh winter. Its enough to make a shipping expert pull out his hair. But Brown has seen his share of shipping issues around the world to know it is beyond anyones control.

‘You just try to keep people informed about whats going on, he said. You always have to keep them involved.

Brown also advises his customers to book early and plan ahead as much as possible. He works on multiple bookings for single shipments, which gives the shipper options should problems arise.

‘Every industry was impacted, including office furniture, he said. ‘In todays world, driven by logistics, where parts are shipped to China for assembly and shipped back to the U.S. for finishing, once you start messing with the supply chain, you are going to have problems.

Brown has spent years pushing the office furniture industry to seek markets overseas. He promotes an annual office furniture show in Dubai and works tirelessly to convince office furniture makers to expand into international markets.

‘Things like this do not help, he said. ‘I always actively try to promote export to people in the industry. Still, most of the U.S. office furniture manufacturing base has direct experience in the import process. They understand the issues that affect logistics.

For Rob’s full article, please go to www.mmqb.com


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October 20, 2012   Posted by: Indy

Chairing the Debate – Updated !

Update : Note that the same furniture was used for the Presidential Debate on Monday 22nd October !

Story by Rob Kirkbride, Courtesy of the Monday Morning Quarterback, www.mmqb.com








As the dust settled on the second debate of this election season Thursday, when Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan faced off, there was one clear winner: furniture.

That’s according to a few solid sources who claim the furniture was the best part of the vice presidential debate. And as an industry, who are we to argue with that assessment? The first vote of confidence came from Erik Wemple, a Washington Post blogger and editor who said the furniture stole the show at the veep debate in a Friday post on the newspaper’s website entitled “VP debate winner: Furniture.”

“Opinions on who won Thursday night’s vice presidential debate may well line up — not the first time!!! — along ideological lines,” he wrote. “Right-wingers will dwell on Vice President Biden’s demonstrable and annoying personal tics — his laugh, the dismissive smiles that share a border with Al Gore’s smirks of 2000 — and Paul Ryan’s reasoned responses and respectable demeanor. Left-wingers will dwell on the sitting veep’s clear command of policy issues, from A to Z. Which means that the term “tie” will get tossed around quite a bit in the coming news cycles.

“So let’s tip our hats to the debate’s hard surfaces. The adjoining oval-circular table setup provided just the right level of intimacy — and, at the same time, distance — between moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC and the two opponents. When Raddatz needed to intervene, she was right there — her excellent questions couldn’t be ignored. And when she (wisely) on many occasions chose to stay out of the fray, the tables, again, facilitated things.”

Wemple wrote about the “chasm” between the presidential debaters and Jim Lehrer when they went at it last week. “We’re calling this one a blowout for the furniture,” he wrote. So who made the tables used for the vice presidential debate? It was hard to tell from the video and photos from the event held at Centre College in Danville, Ken. (If you know who made the tables, please let us know). But the chairs were easily recognizable.

Raddatz sat in a Steelcase Leap chair with mahogany leather, though chances are she didn’t know the name of her chair or the technology that kept her comfortable as she made the vice presidential candidates squirm in their chairs (we will get to those in a minute). Any Steelcase dealer or chair geek could tell her that four years of research work by 27 scientists and 732 test participants helped create the LiveBack technology that makes Leap adjust to the spine of the user. Though it is hard to tell if it is the real deal or a knockoff, it appears as if Jim Lehrer, who moderated the first presidential debate, was sitting in a Herman Miller Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair.

Sadly, the vice presidential candidates probably didn’t know who made the chairs they were sitting in while they grilled each other, rolled their eyes and smirked as the other attempted to answer questions about Social Security and Iran’s nuclear threat.

The vice presidential debate chairs are veterans in the political arena. The HBF Arlington Chairs have been used in the presidential and vice presidential debates since 2000. According to HBF Brand Manager Sarah Nielsen the chairs date back to the George W. Bush/Al Gore presidential debate in Winston-Salem, N.C. HBF was picked to supply the chairs because one of the facility managers for the debate commission was a fan of the company’s furniture. The commission contacted a salesperson and HBF and the company sold the group the chairs.

Seated debates are a somewhat new phenomenon in politics. The Bush/Gore debate at Wake Forest University was the first ever seated debate. Before such time, height was considered an important factor since it was believed that taller candidates fared better in debates. The debate coordinators were concerned about height while seated as well and asked HBF to produce the chairs without the height adjustability mechanism.

“Though the Arlington came with height adjustability, they didn’t want anyone to be able to move the chairs up or down to make their candidate look taller,” Nielsen said. “So we had to castrate the chairs to make it all be fair. The chairs have been used in the debates ever since.”

Arlington was designed by William Raftery for HBF. But you are out of luck if you’d like an Arlington chair to recreate a debate-like setting in your home or office. HBF stopped making the Arlington chair. “It is no longer being produced,” Nielsen said, “so these debate chairs are truly classics.”

Maybe the first question at the next debate should not be about foreign policy, the economy or healthcare. Let’s petition the moderator to ask the candidates a much simpler question: How does that chair feel?

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April 24, 2012   Posted by: Indy

Office Expo Conversations with Rob Kirkbride of the MMQB

Office Expo Conversations
Monday April 23, 2012
by Rob Kirkbride

For most who work in the North American office furniture industry, Dubai is a long, long way from home — about 15 hours of flying time from the industry’s Midwest hub. So why bother with The Office Exhibition 2012, the Middle East’s largest office furniture show? To most attending and exhibiting at The Office Exhibition 2012 at the Dubai World Trade Center May 15-17, it is a matter of numbers. The Gulf Cooperation Council region, which consists of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Yemen, is expected to spend $56 billion on interior projects.

That’s why The Office Exhibition is attracting new exhibitors like Global, Allseating, Loft, JDD and Bisley along with a large number of North American, European, African and Asian office furniture makers. The show will also see participation from top UAE suppliers including Mobili Emirates Furniture, United Furniture and Ritmo Furniture with the “Doimo Office” range. With representation from almost every continent in the world, The Office Exhibition 2012 will include more than 140 new-to-region products and a wide array of award-winning designs.

The Monday Morning Quarterback caught up with David Wilson, exhibition director at The Office Exhibition 2012, to talk about the upcoming show.

What makes this year’s event different? What’s new and improved for exhibitors and attendees?

“The Office Exhibition 2012 is now in its 11th year and has developed into the premier trade event for every aspect of office design and fit-out. It is a must-attend event for the architecture and design community, attracting some of the most recognized brands in office furniture from every continent in the world.

“We have continued our knowledge partnership with the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) who will collaborate with the American University of Sharjah on our Design Seminar and Workshop program. Knowledge exchange is a very important part of The Office Exhibition and this year we are delighted to partner with leading architects, designers, fit-out contractors and manufacturers to deliver a full three-day program of stimulating presentations and panel discussions. We have also expanded our focus on education and healthcare products, a reflection of the regional growth in those sectors.

“The Office Exhibition is an all-encompassing trade show – we showcase the best in office design from around the world, educate the region about the latest office trends, and provide invaluable industry networking opportunities.”

How many exhibitors are committed to the show this year? Is that number up or down compared to last year? What is driving the growth?

“The Office Exhibition 2012 has attracted the participation of 130 exhibitors from every continent in the world. We have seen an increase of 15 percent in exhibitor numbers from last year especially from Italy, Germany, Portugal, Canada and the U.S.

“Many of these countries are faced with depressed or flat home economies and the recovery trend in certain GCC real estate markets is encouraging top international interior brands to target this region.

“International manufacturers and distributors have won significant projects in the Middle East and North Africa region through the Office Exhibition. The show is an important gateway through which companies can tap into market opportunities in the wider region.”

How many are expected to visit the show this year? Is that number expected to be up or down?

“Last year, we had a 62 percent increase in the number of visitors to the show over 2010. We are expecting that to increase further this year. With a wider range of innovative design products and solutions and an exciting roster of activities at the show, we have already recorded strong pre-registration visitor numbers.

What are you doing to make the show as dynamic and worthwhile as possible for visitors and exhibitors alike?

“The 11th edition of The Office Exhibition will see the largest participation of design companies from every continent in the world bringing with them an exciting range of new-to-region and award-winning products.

“We believe that market education is as important as offering business opportunities to visitors. In addition to providing access to top design firms, we have introduced a number of activities to help foster learning and encourage knowledge exchange among visitors. Part of this commitment is our ongoing partnership with the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), which we have continued this year to offer international design expertise to our regional architectural and design community.”

What can visitors to the show expect?

“We have a number of activities that make The Office Exhibition 2012 a must-attend event for architects, designers, fit-out specialist and business decision makers.

“Earlier this year, we opened entries for The Office Exhibition Interior Design Competition, overseen and judged by our knowledge partner IIDA. The competition has expanded to the Middle East this year and aims to recognize outstanding design projects in the region completed in the last three years. IIDA will announce winning projects across eight categories on the opening day of the show.

“Last year was the first time we introduced an industry roundtable discussion into The Office Exhibition program. Following its success, we have expanded this into a series of workshops and seminars on topics ranging from ‘The Evolution of the Corporate Workplace in the Middle East’ to ‘Reinventing the Classroom.’ Any registered visitor to The Office Exhibition 2012 is able to attend these complimentary sessions.

“In addition, Summertown Interiors, the only LEED Gold certified fit-out contractor in the UAE will be running the ‘Green Day,’ a series of panel discussions and case studies that will address issues regarding sustainability in workplace design. The sessions will feature leading names in the architecture and design industry.

“Visitors will also have access to a wide range of innovative, award-winning products and design options to suit their varying needs, be it for corporate, healthcare, education, aviation or hospitality environments.

“Our first time participants include industry heavyweights Global Group and Allseating from Canada, Trendway and Indiana Furniture from the U.S., as well as Loft, JDD and Bisley from the U.K. Also returning to the show for the first time since 2007 is Japanese manufacturer Okamura, widely celebrated for its game changing Contessa Chair – an elegant and ergonomically designed mesh chair with a synchro-reclining mechanism.

“We also have increased participation from the Middle East, including UAE distributors Mobili Emirates Furniture, Ritmo Furniture, Human Space, Williams from Egypt and Office Division from Lebanon.”

What can show exhibitors expect?

“The most valuable thing for exhibitors at the show is having direct access to a focused and targeted audience from not only the UAE but the wider Middle East and North Africa region. Participating companies have won significant contracts on the show floor previously and we expect this trend to continue in 2012.

“The Office Exhibition is also co-located with The Hotel Show, the largest hospitality trade show for the Middle East and North Africa region. Exhibitors at both shows benefit from the cross-over of visitors.

“In addition to being an excellent business and networking platform, the show aims to provide design inspiration and expertise to exhibitors. As well as the Interior Design project competition, IIDA has invited exhibitors at The Office Exhibition and The Hotel Show to participate in the Middle East Office & Hospitality Product Design Awards. The competition aims to recognise excellence and innovation in product design for the commercial office and hotel industries.”

Many exhibitors also use the time in Dubai to work on other business opportunities.

What is the general business climate in Dubai?

“Dubai is one of the world’s top 10 business destinations, with more than half of the world’s largest companies running their regional offices from the city. An estimated 75 million square meters of office space in Dubai is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012, with 1.2 million square meters in Abu Dhabi due to come online in 2013, according to a 2011 report by Jones Lang LaSalle.

“In addition, the Arab Spring has encouraged governments across the region to increase spending on development projects, in a bid to head off unrest and improve infrastructure. Riyadh’s project expenditure is expected to almost triple by 2016 compared with $100 billion in 2005. Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar are also set to double their expenditure rates over the same period.

“Dubai’s excellent location, infrastructure and logistical facilities have established the city as a hub for conducting business in the wider region. In the wake of the Arab Spring, more companies have moved their offices to Dubai given that it is free from political instability and offers a safer environment to conduct business.

Is project activity high for office, educational, healthcare, hospitality furniture in the region? Please explain how it compares to past years.

“We are definitely seeing increased project activity in the GCC healthcare and education sectors. In a recent report issued by Alpen Capital, the GCC’s healthcare sector is set to grow by an annual rate of 11 percent and will be worth nearly $44 billion by 2015. The Sharjah Government and DM healthcare have also recently announced plans to make significant investments in the healthcare sector.

“With regards to education projects, there are a number of international universities setting up campuses in the region and large projects such as Qatar’s Education City and Saudi Arabia’s Tatweer Education project are underway.

“Owing to increasing demand in these sectors, The Office Exhibition has expanded its focus on healthcare and education products this year. We have a number of exhibitors who will be showcasing products that are best suited to these environments. For instance, Canada’s Allseating is launching its award-winning Tuck stacking chair in the region. Tuck is ideal for education and training facilities due to its lightweight, easy-to-clean surface, durability and the ability to be ‘tucked away’ without taking up too much space.

“The 1972 classic Polo chair is another product that has been used worldwide in a number of applications within the education sectors and will be launched in the region for the first time by its U.K. based manufacturer and distributor, Loft in collaboration with Human Space. Human Space will also be showcasing furniture ranges suitable for medical centers and clinical facilities designed by the Dauphin Human Design Group.

“We also have a number of launches for the standard corporate office including acoustic wall partitions, technologically integrated desking systems, executive furniture ranges, conference room facilities and ergonomic chairs.”

Why should North American companies attend and exhibit at the show?

“The Office Exhibition is the only dedicated show for office fit-outs and commercial interior design in the Middle East. The show is an important gateway through which international companies can source real business opportunities in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Returning exhibitors and significant projects won by participating companies are a testament to what The Office Exhibition offers; excellent business and networking opportunities for exhibitors and visitors.

Is it worthwhile for North American office furniture manufacturers to expand into the region? Why?

“As the GCC continues to invest in major infrastructure projects, demand for commercial interior design and fit out services will grow apace.

“More than $300 billion worth of major projects are expected to be awarded across the Middle East by 2012, according to a 2011 report from MEED Middle East Projects Forecast & Review. Qatar’s successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid will also drive considerable commercial development over the next decade. In addition, the Arab Spring has propelled governments across the region to increase spending on development projects, in a bid to head off unrest and improve infrastructure.

“This is a very buoyant projects market when compared to the U.S. or other international markets and there is an increasing awareness and appreciation of good quality design. North American manufacturers would do very well here.”

Thanks to www.mmqb.com

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May 17, 2011   Posted by: Indy

The US Campus at Dubai Office Exhibition Opens

Official Opening US Campus

Allsteel Stand – US Campus at the Office Exhibition Dubai 2011

Sagus at the US Campus – Office Exhibition Dubai 2011

KI stand at the US Campus – Office Exhibition Dubai 2011

US Campus Office Exhibition Dubai 2011

Axess stand within the US Campus

Bernhardt Design at The Office Exhibition Dubai

US Campus

Joe Kashou meets with Rob Kirkbride of the MMQB at the Office Exhibition Dubai

Gunlocke at the Office Exhibition Dubai

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