Dave Pinter: 5 Ways To Create A Better Design Fair

Dave Pinter: 5 Ways To Create A Better Design Fair

While celebrating its 25th anniversary, ICFF needs a new strategic plan and more efficient use of technology.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 26 may 2013

2013 is a big year for design in New York City. It is the debut year of the citywide promotion initiative NYCxDESIGN. It is also the 25th anniversary of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), which is arguably the premiere design trade show held in the United States. Over the years it has morphed from a furniture-focused show serving the interior design trade to a broader survey of contemporary products and materials for interior spaces.

The mission of the show is a ‘platform for global design, [that] maps the newest frontier of what’s best and what’s next’. Every year there are interesting design stories to be found, ironically though the design of the show itself fails to make discovering these stories easy. More than any previous year, the organization of ICFF felt stuck in the past and in no way adapting to the time and attention taxed lives of those attending.

The core audience for ICFF are still designers and architects looking for resources for projects. Retailers and manufacturers also attend looking to order new products or take a prototype into production. This year in particular there were other noticeable groups circulating the show floor, families and curious people wandering down from one of the other concurrent fairs like Surtex. The buzz of Design Week seemed to be seeping into Javits from all directions. The audience at the show is evolving and with more outside exposure over the coming years, this trend looks to continue. One path to meet this growth of interest in design is for ICFF to become more consumer friendly. Here’s a few ways we think that could happen.

Intuitive Navigation Created With Categories


Visiting the show this year and looking for what innovative products were available for the bathroom required a long journey. The above map shows the location of some of the companies exhibiting bath products and we’ve highlighted the extremes in distance spans.


Taking a page from grocery store layout, a consolidated presentation of bath products means visitors won’t miss seeing anything and if they are only interested in the bath category, they know where to go.

Good Way-Finding Is Key To A Happy Experience


No one likes to feel lost, so the graphic design execution and way-finding placement is very important. This year, visitors were faced with aisle after aisle of beige carpet and little in the way of directional signage at eye level. It became quickly difficult to know where you were going and were you have been. Nothing of visual substance correlated to the paper map available to visitors.



Opportunity Exists For A Feature Rich Mobile App


A mobile app could really transform the show experience. Not only could it assist in navigation but also send alerts for onsite events. Several exhibitors mentioned visitors stopping by and saying they would return to have a chat and another look, but few ever did. This is mostly due to visitors forgetting where booths were located. A ‘remind me’ feature on the app could serve as a way to fix this.

Present A Curated Design Trends Area



An obvious way to get visitors quickly up to date with what’s new and what to look for. The IMM Cologne show PSFK visited a couple years back did an excellent job of this and it served as a great resource for time starved show goers.

Showcasing Design Tools And Process Adds Depth To The Event


The past couple of years, makers and fabricators have been a consistent part of ICFF. We’ll publish a review on what was displayed for 2013, but the revived commitment to manufacturing in the Unites States needs the support of the design community. A design process pavilion might be a way to foster a stronger relationship.


In addition, companies like Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator), Wacom, Dassault Systems (SolidWorks), Trimble (Sketchup), Autodesk (Autocad) and many others who supply widely used digital design software have never exhibited. For these companies, you won’t likely find a greater concentration of working designers attending an event at any other time of the year in the US. It could be a golden opportunity to introduce new products, host seminars and demos, and conduct training classes. Their presence also completes the design circle from idea development to fabrication to real product.

To us, that is a formula to sustain another 25 years of exhibiting design innovation.


DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Design & Architecture
Culture Yesterday

Messaging Add-On Helps You Correct Your Friends’ Bad Grammar

An iMessage sticker pack will help you copyedit text messages

Automotive Yesterday

Mercedes-Benz Introduces A New Electric Mobility Brand

The separate entity aims to simplify the identification of Mercedes EV products to customers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Mobile Yesterday

Tinder’s New Feature Makes Swiping A Group Effort

The dating app wants to democratize its gestural interaction by buying in to the social polling trend pervasive among millennials

Syndicated Yesterday

Autonomous Garbage Drone Prevents Trash From Reaching Deep Ocean

The solar-powered WasteShark collects refuse closer to the source: the harbor

Automotive Yesterday

Aston Martin Reveals Its Own Luxury Powerboat

The sleek AM37 echoes styling elements from the British brand's sports cars

Advertising Yesterday

An Escort Website Fights Violence Against Sex Workers

The advocacy campaign from McCann aims uncover the human toll of the exploitative industry


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 28, 2016

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

PSFK Labs september 29, 2016

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Culture Yesterday

LIFE Magazine Relaunches In Pure VR

The general interest periodical, which ceased publication in 2000, has turned into a portal for virtual reality content

Mobile Yesterday

Reorder This Detox Drink With A Simple Text Message

Dirty Lemon is streamlining its communication by letting customers place orders, ask product questions and request help exclusively through chat

Op-Ed Yesterday

The Future Of The American Workforce Requires Unbundling College Education

President of JetBlue Technology Ventures: developing corporate education programs for non-traditional students

Retail Yesterday

Gilt’s Pop-Up House Is The Kind Of Store You’ll Want To Live In

The New York City townhouse plays host to the latest in retail inspiration, curation, and lifestyle activation (and some libations, too)


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Mobile Yesterday

Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

A new bot aims to mobilize underrepresented groups this election season through SMS and Facebook Messenger

Africa Yesterday

Virtual Reality Game Gives Lessons About Emergency Birth Care

LIFE is a serious tool that takes advantage of new technology to help save lives

Luxury Yesterday

Shoe Repair Has Moved Onto Your Phone

Cobbler Concierge is an on-demand service to get your footwear fixed online

No search results found.