Decor exhibitions evoke mixed responses.

Johannesburg - ‘I’m concerned about the pretty,” says Sherri Chipps, erstwhile stylist and marketer and now portfolio director of Decorex South Africa, Africa’s largest décor, design and lifestyle exhibition.

As a devout aesthete herself, Chipps knows that anyone visiting a décor and design show, is expecting to see beautiful things. As the Decorex team puts the finishing touches to the Joburg show that opens on Wednesday July 8 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, her overriding concern is that it’s “pretty”.

Decor exhibitions evoke mixed responses. On the downside: “They’re too big, there’s too much clutter and I haven’t got the time.”

But on the positive side, many say: “Look, here’s everything under one roof. The sectors are grouped for easy navigation. Wow, I’ve never heard of half these people.”

It’s this essential contradiction in what visitors expect to find at the continent’s biggest décor and design show that is driving Chipps to create an experience that speaks to everyone and drives appreciation of fantastic South African design.

“With more than 700 exhibitors in five halls at Gallagher Convention Centre, of course this is a massive exhibition. The kitchen and bathroom accessories and finishes are an essential ingredient of Decorex and the fact that we have so many under one roof is what attracts very many of our visitors.

“But we are also in the business of décor and design, so there’s absolutely no reason why finishes and accessories shouldn’t sit comfortably alongside beautiful things presented in a trend-forward fashion.”

And Chipps should know. One of the founding members of the St Leger and Viney fabric house, alongside Gary Searle, she also worked in sales and PR at Mavromac for many years before starting her own interior design business. Following a stint with magazines including Conde Nast House & Garden and House and Leisure, Chipps ran her own PR and media strategy business, managing the accounts of various leading décor brands, before joining Decorex SA.

Decorex SA has exhibitions in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Last year Decorex Joburg attracted more than 50 000 visitors, attendance at Decorex Cape Town this year was up 15 percent on last year and Decorex Durban, 40 percent.

With headline sponsor Plascon on board since the show’s inception 19 years ago and with M-Net’s continued media partnership, Decorex SA is the perfect platform to reveal the most beautiful designs that SA has to offer.

Chipps only took over the Decorex hot seat a few weeks before the upcoming show, so don’t expect too much yet.

But from next year’s shows – Durban’s in March, Cape Town’s in April, Joburg in August – look out for a new brand of energy that will have us all falling in love with the concept of a décor show all over again.

Chipp’s not giving away too much – this is a competitive industry, after all. But we can safely predict that the fact that she has incorporated as many local designers as is humanly possible, in many of the features at Decorex 2012, that this is going to be an important focus for her going forward.

“I am a passionate supporter and promoter of South African décor and design and am delighted to be joining a brand that truly platforms, champions and promotes the South African décor and design industry.”

Decorex already attracts a significant number of international buyers, who come chiefly to look at the South African Handmade Collection – a showcase of local craft that has some enchanted, others looking for more sophisticated flavour.

Chipps says that with the depth of design talent now flourishing in SA, there is an opportunity for a show like Decorex to become a platform for promoting this work to local and international buyers.

In the spirit of great design shows like Maison et Objet in Paris and the Milan Furniture Fair, Chipps’s dream is to work with all her exhibitors to use Decorex to launch their new designs and products.

“We want Decorex SA to become the essential introduction to all that is new, beautiful and innovative in this country,’ she says.

And pretty, of course. - Sunday Independent


August 8-12 – Gallagher Convention Centre

Hours: 09:00 – 18:00

Gautrain: Take the Gautrain to the Midrand station. For your convenience, shuttle buses will be running to and from Gallagher Convention Centre.

Visit for regular updates on exciting competitions and speaker line-ups.

Facebook: Decorex SA

Twitter: @decorexSA

Decorex Joburg forms part of the Decorex SA portfolio and is owned by the Thebe Exhibitions & Projects Group.

For more information visit 011 549 8300.