Designersblock unveils Earls Court plans

Designersblock will run its main exhibition at Earls Court One during September’s London Design Festival, with a second venue in Carnaby Street – and possibly others as well. According to Designersblock co-founder Rory Dodd, the show will occupy ‘a big chunk, but under half’ of Earls Court One for its show, which this year will feature architectural exhibitors as well as designers, artists and illustrators.

‘We are inviting architects to build huge site-specific structures that could end up forming a sort of village,’ says Dodd, who is impressed by the Art Deco interior of Earls Court One (foyer pictured below), which, at 4000m2, is the smaller of the venue’s two halls.

However, Dodd and partner Piers Roberts are likely to be designing the floorplan themselves, rather than appointing a consultancy. ‘We are used to making sense of spaces, having worked in some real mazes in the past,’ says Dodd, who admits, ‘while we have worked in trade show spaces before, it was never on such a big scale’.

The news follows last week’s revelation that 100% Design is pulling out of Earls Court One to concentrate its entire exhibition in Earls Court Two. Designersblock is currently in talks with 100% Design exhibition director Peter Massey and exhibition design group Jam about harmonising the two shows.

Massey says, ‘There is no commercial benefit to us of working with Designersblock, but we are bringing together our contacts and audience, hopefully to produce something unique. 2009 is all about collaboration.’

He adds that the event’s decision to retreat from Earls Court One reflects ‘a return to the core 100% brand by focusing on the very best’. He claims that the exhibition will ‘make use of every square inch of space in Earls Court Two’.

Dodd reports that there are no current plans to neighbour 100% Design at Earls Court again after this year, although he expressed hopes that ‘this heralds a close relationship between us’.

Designersblock is expecting to draw in more than the 60 or so individual exhibitors that it usually attracts, and is charging a starting rate of £1500 for space at its show. Last year, exhibitors paid between about £1000 and £2000 for a stand, says Dodd.

Designersblock’s second confirmed venue, on Carnaby Street, W1, is about a quarter to a third of the size of its Earls Court space, according to Dodd, and capable of accommodating about 30 exhibitors. Last year, the traditionally east London-based show moved to Covent Garden. ‘We had our busiest show in 2008, with a great audience,’ says Dodd. ‘Since a lot of our exhibitors end up working with companies in the West End it seems like a good place to have a show.’ Dodd adds that Designersblock is ‘looking at other additional possible spaces as well’.


  • Designersblock held its first ever show at the Truman Brewery in east London, in 1998
  • Since then it has occupied the Tea Building and the Nicholls & Clarke Buildings, both in Shoreditch, and St Pancras station
  • Last year, the event moved to the West End, taking over No 1 The Piazza, Covent Garden
  • This year, the event will take place at Earls Court One
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