Every two years Milan hosts the wonderful Euroluce Fair in the new show grounds at Rho on the west side of Milan. The Lighting show occupies 8 halls of the vast 24 hall complex and the rest of the 48,000 square meter exibition is devoted to Furniture and accessories. Having just come back from a marathon tour of the fair I feel I am qualified to pontificate about the new designs, new materials, new shades and styles which Milan has exposed to the world. And as ever the world will adopt and adapt them over the coming months all over our planet.
Once again the crowds were thick and came in tidal waves on the underground link from the city, metropolitano. As you arrive and get channelled into eager queues up to the moving walkway belts you are a sitting target for pedlars of literature, leaflets and pictures all along the 500 metre approach to the fair.
Your resolve to keep a minimum of bulky literature in your wheelie bag has already gone out of the window, long prior to your purchase of the £35 catalogue which weighs 2 kilos and is essential for any serious lover of Italian style and flair. Of course there are thousands of bodies pressing up against turn styles feeding in entrance tickets that set you back either £25 for one day or £40 for 4 days. This formula must have been worked out by a mathematical genius because nearly everyone visiting needs two days. So you get caught with a ticket which you don't need for 2 out of the 4 days or you have to compress your visit down to one day in which you probably can see only 2 per cent of what's there. I made a bee-line for the lighting halls and wasn't disappointed.
The invention and ambition that has gone into individualising each lighting stand was prodigious. Never have I seen such vast constructs, such unlikely materials, such strange illusions which the Italian producers were displaying. I was rash enough to inquire a couple of prices and although the staff were beautifully suited and groomed it seemed impossible to obtain a price without revealing who you were, where you came from, what activity you were engaged in, and the colour of your underpants. Finally when a price was educed it turned out to be a theoretical retail price at a level that would require the UK to be populated by rich idiots. Nevertheless I pardon all these excesses because what has been exhibited is a masterpiece of design, innovation, colour and excitement.
I would not be able to buy and sell it but sure as eggs are eggs somebody will.
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In the last two weeks we have been busy as bees from Hell, making some fine beechwood chairs for the Hell's Kitchen television programme. 78 Chairs take some doing and our pride in winning this important order is tempered by the fatigue and effort required to turn out such a perfect job. In our upholstery and polishing workshops we already turn out about 350 chairs a week, mainly bespoke to customers' own specifications for restaurants, show-houses, night-clubs, country houses and of course, furniture shops.
The star of the show is Marco Pierre White, who hosts a number of celebrities and tries to turn them into master chefs, those who fail have to be waiters. The set looks like a restaurant but it is really a sound stage and the chairs are laid out as per an upmarket restaurant.
I'm sure ITV asked us to supply these Georgian round back chairs because of the success of our previous supply of carved spoon backs for the same programme two years ago. That was the first airing of this formula and was headed up by Gordon Ramsey, a popular chap. The ones in the show this time are smooth top spoon-backs with contrasting striped fabrics by Paul Smith which harmonise with the wallpapers in the mock-up restaurant set.
In the last series we were lucky to experience a lot of spin-off from the order and subsequently these chairs were taken up by several important restaurants in London as well as a few private customers who still like the style of the spoon-backs with ca-brio legs and a carved flower at the apex.
This time we are to supply a mixture of side chairs and dining carvers to head the groups of tables. The fabric designed by Paul Smith is stripes, stripes and stripes in at least 6 variations. It is stressful work getting the fabric centred up on each chair and chair back with an uncountenanced amount of waste of a material which costs £100 a metre!
The Chair frame itself is a very strong construct. Although there is likely to be no rough-house behaviours in an establishment headed by Marco Pierre White, the chair would withstand the most abusive treatment. Each chair has a horse-shoe shaped stretcher or support bar, there are extra thick corner blocks and the wood is kiln dried to the n'th degree.
The Georgian shape is characterized by a sumptuous round back, which is routed or grooved for visual effect. The chair legs are tapered and fluted and adorned by a carved flower set in a tablet at the leg top.
The interface between the wood and the gorgeous fabric is a row of antique nail heads, tapped in by our craftsmen with a tiny hammer. We have been asked to lacquer the chairs in shiny black and very smart they look too.
If we have an opportunity to buy the chairs back from programme makers we will make them available to our clients and you may buy them in fours, sixes etc to adorn your dining rooms or entrance halls. If you would like Email notification if, as and when these limited edition babies come home, then contact us.
Any products sold on this website are sold on a first come first served basis.
In case you missed the show we have extracted a few seconds and repeated it a few times so you can see the chairs in action. Just click the play icon at the bottom left of the screen below.
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January is traditionally a very busy month. Our trade customers will have had a sale period, reduced their stock holdings and window displays and in theory, would be hungry for more stock. Hence the popularity of the Furniture Show at Birmingham's NEC. For many years The Febland Group have had a big stand at this fair, which is now succinctly entitled "The Interiors Event".
2009 was different in that many holes were evident in the halls, and that there were even less halls! Obviously, exhibitors were scarce on the ground and some exhibitors must have gone into receivership or possibly disappeared between paying for their stands and the start of the show. Such a stand was close to our display and the organisers generously allowed us to populate it. We quickly got the resident electricians to light it up (for an extortionate fee!) and we put all our bargain items on it with big tickets showing new and tempting prices.
On the first day of the show, (Sunday 18th) loads of people turned up and by noon the corridors were bursting with humanity. Amongst the throng however, there were few bona-fide furniture shop proprietors. The phenomenon of the e-tailers, designers looking for some impossible dream and the architectural students were obviously the major constituent of the attendees albeit with a fair sprinkling of reluctant children with their shopkeeper parents dragging them in on a Sunday. Some younger children protested by throwing their dummies out of their push chairs and some by sitting on every available chair and leaving DNA and fingerprints on EVERY piece of glass furniture.
Sunday was that sort of day but Monday and Tuesday definitely improved as the professionals came in and made a bee-line for our new designer lines and picked through the swatches of new fabric designs, some of which worked out at over £50 per metre. We were expecting a barrage of importers from Europe, considering their money is so strong, making our paltry sterling prices look really inviting. Only a few such buyers materialised, maybe business is as tough in Euro land as it is currently in the UK?
Many usual customers missed out on the journey this year but those who made it ordered with great confidence and we were delighted to see the orders largely fitted the stock in our warehouses and we duly delivered a great chunk of the orders the following week.
When we shook the dust out of the fair we found that orders were slightly up on 2008. So all considered, it was a good show.
Next came the Spring Fair; Sunday 1st February to Thursday 5th. I would say the snow was the winner at this show. After a decent Sunday all the media spewing out warnings about the imprudence of travelling and as sure as eggs are eggs the customers heeded the warnings and stayed away in their droves. You could have predicted that the absence of visitors would completely throttle business but curiously the brave folk who were already within 30 miles of the NEC turned up and laid decent orders on the erstwhile despondent exhibitors. It was generally agreed that
the Monday was a good day all round.
Once again the show was characterised by empty spaces around the 14 halls and in the fine jewellery section this was particularly obvious. It seems that luxury jewellery is no longer a must have accessory in these days of depression. Shrewd dealers are acquiring gold bullion, the price of the metal has gone up at a time when all the traders are trying to reduce their prices as to tempt a few customers over their thresholds. There were certainly some long faces in those gold, diamond and time-piece stands but we don't need to feel too compassionate for them, for the preceding ten golden years has brought them considerable bounty.
I'm sure they can still afford to buy a Bounty bar.
Our stand this year was long and thin. We dressed it into 5 bays of 7 metres width apiece. Our stand designers decided to wall paper the back walls to show off the chandeliers, mirrors, clocks and consoles. Our new mirrored cabinets and pedestals took off big style and the new nest of three mirrored tables were exceptionally well received. We were favoured by the visit of the lovely Nigerian ladies who have attended the show for a few years and tend to come back for more stock to those companies who look after them best. When we added it all up on the Thursday, I think we were ahead of Mr Snow and we slid home up the gritty M6 with a certain amount of optimism for the forthcoming months.
We will surely be back for more punishment in 2010.
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Our very own warehouse and transport manager Russell Smith and his life long friend Patrick Deakin have decided to take an extreme adventure in the name of charity and hike to base camp Mount Everest. The Febland Group are proud to support and be a sponsor of such a noble endeavour and would like to wish them good luck. They will certainly need it!
The funds they raise will go to CLIC Sargent, Caring for Children with Cancer and Rosemere Cancer Foundation. They have paid all the costs of the journey themselves so that every penny in sponsorship and donations will make a real difference. Please watch the touching video below and check out their website and most importantly of all help them help children with cancer.
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We have added some photos in the gallery below so you can take a good look around. We feel we are well worth a visit, so if you are ever in the Blackpool area - do pop in.
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