A new event for my calendar this year but one I have heard a lot about, Pulse is a trade show for the most discerning & forward thinking retailer or designer. Professing talented exhibitors galore providing inspiration on giftware, modern living & retail insights. Their tag line is Discover the Unexpected and that is exactly what I found on offer; unseen brands, new products and an overflowing well of inspiration.
I ended up spending two days traversing the floor boards of Kensington Olympia taking in the event as a whole; seeing what the exhibitors did with their spaces then taking a closer look at the products and the trends Pulse presented. On top of that The Indytute had a curated selection of ShopTalks available a few of which I caught and enjoyed, so find this blog post cut in three.
Part 1. The show itself and some of my favourite exhibitors displays. >> Read Here
Part 2. My wish list of products and the key trends from Pulse to look out for.
Part 3. A special look in to the ShopTalks I attended and my top tips to plan for.
Pulse offered up some of the most talented retail exhibitors, widely diverse products in all shapes and sizes and of course their five key design trends for Autumn/Winter 2016 that no shop should be without. It is the never ended artistic debate for designers whether to design what they wish or to design what the customers ask for. You hope for some overlap but at the end of the day if no one buys it you won’t be able to keep creating, sigh…
It is also very much a chicken or the egg situation, what came first the products or the trend, with so many forecasters out there deciding what we are all going to like next season its sometimes hard to remember what comes first. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them, I love a new trend and getting to explore how I am going to incorporate it in to my fashion or lifestyle. My brother has fallen victim to my copper obsession and now supports a copper kitchen bin, desk fan and tea caddies.
So what did Pulse have instore for me, their key trends were as follows:
– Connected –
HYGGE, BALANCED, PARED DOWN, HONEST, TECH FREE, QUIET MODERNITY, COSY, COMFORTABLE, SIMPLE NATURE
– Fusion –
GLOBAL FUSION, CONTEMPORARY CRAFT, PLAYFUL NARRATIVES, TROPICAL NATURE, MULTI PATTERNED, MODERN ETHNIC
– Contemplate –
MARK OF THE MAKER, HAND CRAFTED, ATMOSPHERIC, SERENE, NATURAL, BALANCED
– Mystical –
SPIRITUAL, MAGICAL, GOTHIC, OTHER WORLDLY, WEIRD NATURE, NATURAL RHYTHMS, BEAUTY FROM NATURE, FANTASTICAL
– Modernist –
QUIRKY, ABSTRACT FORMS, HUMOROUS, INVENTIVE, GRAPHIC, FUN, NOSTALGIC
I have jumped fully on board the boom in Flora & Fauna’s role in retail display as well as retail design; succulents and cacti have been on a huge rise in popularity and appear in four out of five trends for the season sealing their fate for the year to come. I was actually surprised how much I was drawn to Fusion I am usually much more reserved in my taste but the highly crafted patterns and materials were joyous enough to impress even me.
With so much choice at an event like this you search the venue in waves, taking in your initial gut reactions to products then doing some quick (and in my case dodgy math) to see if the price is right and run back around again.
So lets see if those trends appear in my Pulse WishList!
Peony Twig Hoop Earings £174
I could have chosen anything from Amanda, all of her collections were wonderfully crafted and complete with lots of size, price and variations available. All sterling silver and gold vermeil they are high quality with cluster of intricate flowers with stone accents to finish. Her designs have a element of magic and her fascination with bugs and flowers really comes across in the fluidity of her jewellery, in the way it moves and sits on the skin.
Giant Leather Key Fob £10
Ark is a brand which likes to have a little fun and these giant embossed leather key charm’s are pretty funky, with an abstract pattern and coloured foils they really have no purpose but could also go just about anywhere, to anyone. Offering a full rainbow of colour choices and sleek designs paired with cheeky phrases they are my kind of people.
Handmade Wool Berber Pots £45
I was drawn to this particular pot from a distance, instantly zooming in on the wonderful cornflower blue and orange contrast. Bohemia’s whole stall was a woven wonderland and was a stop for lots of people after their baskets featured in Pulse’s Fusion trend showcase. Founder Jenny Lockton partners with artisans from Morocco, India and Turkey to produce contemporary authentic handcrafted goods, a worthy cause.
MIMO – Geo Block Bookmark £12.50
The new MIMO collection from Dowse is made up of some wonderful geometric jewellery and then these one of a kind etched brass and steel bookmarks. Inspired by a trip to Miami the collection has hints of art deco and the tropics, coming in 3 distinict shapes. I had them immediately pegged as a great corporate gift, just clip on to a piece of branded collateral to finish.
Ceramic Cat Egg Cups £18.99
Coming in four different coats these cheeky kitty egg cups are just puurrrfect to sooth that crazy cat person in your life. They are witty and well made by Hannah in Bristol their very humanised faces and iridescent yellow eyes make great additions to any breakfast table. There are other creatures to choose from including their newest editions, flocks of pretty peacocks and flamingos.
Siberian Husky Silk Scarf £150
Part of The Forest of Illusion collection made in Scotland by Lindsey a fellow Liberty pattern lover creating these wildlife inspired designs and transferring them to product including this symmetrical silk scarf with a hand rolled edge. Lindsey endeared me to her designs with stories of her inspiration including the amusing peasant who sleeps up a tree at the end of her garden.
Love Potion Enamel Pin £8.50
Lollipop Designs + Pop Studio Collaboration
Lollipop designs for me have always been a London stationery studio who make the most divine planners and calendars and more recently made a party platter that blew Not On The Highstreets customers minds. Now I find them collaborating with Pop Studio part of the cake pop empire producing this pin with a delicate typographic swirl at its centre. Enamel pins are making a big come back and I want this one on my lapel.
Waterlilies Cushion £40
I almost missed Jen’s designs on my towards the door but her deep inky blue stand drew up eye and these single colour landscape cushions kept my focus. Part of her landscape collection, Jen screen prints vintage and handmade illustrations on to natural fabrics in a variety of muted shades. By offering up a uni-sex approach to botanicals and florals they works across homewares and stationary.
Bloc Notepad £4.99
The only international exhibitor on my list and of course its a stationery offering for who could do delicate paper designs better than this lovely french textile designer duo. Julie & Melissa have plenty of vintage inspired patterns but also a few that accommodate more modern popular trends. I can’t wait to see more from them and shall have my google translate at the read just in case.
The Humble Hanger Necklace Collection £275 & 295
True Rocks Jewellery + Artist Rachel Howard collaboration
Emily is a sassy lady with a wicked collection of high end jewellery, alongside her partner Dawn of Ibiza Rocks they have created a label full or rock n roll themed collaborations that are favourites in the celebratory world and beyond. Blending their own distinct style with passionate artists, celebrating overlooked items of inspiration they adorn customers with shiny design treasures.
So maybe not enough to fill a shop but enough to empty my bank balance but how happy would I be. Pulse definitely lived up to its reputation introducing me to some unexpected retail trends, brand new products and under-celebrated design talent. I have a stack of business cards, flyers and catalogues alongside a computer full of photos to look over as there are still lots of wonderful retail designers to be introduced to. Pulse is well worth its top 5 slot of best retail trade shows and was one of the friendliest ones I have visited, even ignoring the cheeky friendly faces I already knew.