When Decorex held its first exhibition almost two decades ago, many people turned up their noses at locally made products and decor. How things have changed with the years – now cutting-edge design is what is expected from our designers.

“South Africa – Cape Town especially – has some of the most creative people in the world. We are definitely at the forefront of the design industry, with the unique ability to combine international, cutting-edge design with homegrown elements,” says Cairey Baxter-Bruce, general manager of Decorex SA.

And this is precisely what visitors can look forward to at this year’s show at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from April 26 to 29.

Baxter-Bruce says this year’s theme is Real – underlying a shift towards original, rare and bespoke work rather than being dictated to by cookie-cutter trends and fads.

Organisers were expecting an even bigger turn-out this year that would give the Western Cape’s design, manufacturing and homeware retail sector a big boost.

“Over the years we’ve seen consumers’ design sophistication being shaped. We are proud of the many local design voices and creative entrepreneurs we’ve helped to break into the industry.” The 25-strong Decorex team brainstorm each show, making it fresh, original and adventurous.

Baxter-Bruce said: “The behind-the-scenes activities necessary to make everything flow and look so effortless are quite mind-boggling. Co-ordinating the stand-building of hundreds of exhibitors – each with its own team – needs foolproof logistical planning for everything to be done on time.

“We always put in that extra creative spark for the Cape Town exhibition as our host city is such a global hub of design. Cape Town is all about innovation and new-thinking, making it a natural to host a design-focused exhibition.”

Representatives and staff members in each region maintain their fingers on the pulse of the industry. There is also a longstanding relationship with a network of designers, fabric houses, decor retailers and other experts that keeps the team informed. “Our exhibitors are also a wealth of information. Through social media our visitors and design-minded people also keep us in touch with happenings, exciting new designers, products and shops.

“Through our own design seminar, Conversations on Architecture, we stay abreast of issues in the built environment here and overseas. To keep up with international trends we also visit international exhibitions and trade fairs. And we are avid blog followers and search the internet for the next big thing and exciting ideas.”

Baxter-Bruce said spotting a trend was easy. “But getting it right to have longevity and to suit your lifestyle is not. Decorex steps in as a style guide, interpreting these trends in roomscapes, interior showcases and practical workshop presentations. With top-notch exhibitors on board. Visitors will be impressed with the many curated trend installations, creative collaborations, the high-design pop-up restaurants and cutting-edge concept stands.”

Visitors can expect energetic splashes of tangerine, a new wave of “hectic eclectic” interiors, theatre workshops, new product launches, and fashion-forward fabric and wallpaper installations. - Weekend Argus

In numbers:

* In its 19th year, Decorex is a pioneer of the country’s interiors landscape.

* Decorex Cape Town was first held 14 years ago.

* Decorex in Durban celebrated its 10th birthday in March.

* The show attracts more than 100 000 visitors every year – 40 000 in Cape Town last year.