Exhibitors were evacuated and visitors turned away from the 100% Design show on Saturday morning, after thick smoke overwhelmed the Earls Court 2 venue.
An electrical fire in the control room, three floors below the exhibition hall, broke out at 8.30am and smoke soon filled the entire venue, says 100% Design’s co-founder Ian Rudge.
‘The decision was taken to evacuate as the fire brigade arrived. Fortunately, there were only a few exhibitors in the hall,’ he adds.
The building needed to be ‘vented’ to disperse the extremely thick smoke before the fire brigade could tackle the fire.
Visitors and exhibitors were accommodated next door at Earls Court 1 and given free refreshments. Some went to the B&B Italia showroom nearby, or to Designers Block, but most stayed until the show reopened at 2pm.
Rudge says, ‘Saturday’s probably our quietest day, but we only had 600 fewer visitors this year than last.’
Power was restored to all but six of the exhibition stands and the show continued for an extra hour until 7pm.
Meanwhile, Rudge is giving up day-to-day operational responsibility to develop the event as a consultant. This is believed to include developing new show formats.