Pulse pulls in more international retailers and multiples

Pulse welcomed a ‘discerning audience’ to Olympia from May 15-17, who travelled to the London trade show to discover and source thousands of products from over 500 brands.

International visitors flew in from around the world to generate an overseas attendance increase of 12%, while attendance from leading multiples and department stores rose by 29%.

Names included Arcadia, Bentalls, British Museum, Debenhams, Design Museum, Fenwick, Graham & Green, Heal’s, John Lewis, Kew Gardens, Liberty, London Transport Museum, National Gallery, National Trust, Natural History Museum, Notonthehighstreet.com, Oliver Bonas, Paperchase, Royal Academy of Arts, Sainsbury’s, Science Museum, Selfridges, Tate and The Conran Shop.

Exhibition organiser Clarion Events said the new talent areas of Raw, Launchpad, UAL: Now, Secret Emporium and the Found trail were ‘enthusiastically received’ by retailers.

A highlight of the three-day event was the 2016 Pulse Awards, which celebrated the best in innovation and design. Judged by retail experts including the head of retail at the Design Museum Rebecca Hossain; Liberty’s Liz Sylvester; Tate Modern’s Livia Ratcliffe; and Jessica Hodson from Heal’s, these awards were given to exhibitors with ‘outstanding products and exceptional stand design’.

Men’s giftware company Men’s Society scooped the prize for Best Brand Presentation with its ‘clear, direct branding, packaging and accessible product mix’, while Cambridge Imprint patterned wrapping papers and stationery won the award for Best New Product in Launchpad.

The award for ‘Best Newcomer’ went to Utology, for its ‘unfussy wall hook designs, which combine simplicity with practicality’. The award for ‘Best New Product – Living’ was won by Be&Liv which showcased a collection of ‘intricately detailed products and well thought out designs’. Promises Promises’ fresh designs within the jewellery and fashion category saw it win the award for ‘Best New Product – Fashion’, while the ‘Innovation Award’ went to Ware London for its ‘impressive green credentials’.

A popular feature of the show was exclusive design trends revealed by Unique Style Platform, which provided visitors with information for the upcoming seasons, and suggested products that match five trends: the tonal and pared back ‘Connected’ and ‘Contemplate’; the lavish ‘Fusion’ and ‘Mystical’; while references from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were reinvented to create the future by incorporating technology and embedding comfort for the ‘Modernist’ trend.

Daily ShopTalk conferences provided retailers with business advice and support from a line-up of high-profile speakers. The roll call included Liz Sylvester, head of visual identity at Liberty, who gave a talk on how to pick up on visual trends and work them into your own environment; Sally Bendelow, creative product director at Notonthehighstreet.com, who spoke about the impact of globalisation, digital and the connected world; and Heal’s head of collections Pia Benham, who provided an insight into being and remaining a destination store.

ShopTalk also included some well attended lively panel debates. Design journalist Katie Law, chaired a discussion with David Fenton and Laura Mullins from Imperial War Museum on the subject of putting a contemporary twist on the traditional shop and blogger Kate Baxter chaired a debate with a panel of bloggers on how to meet and work creatively with bloggers.

Pulse returns next year from May 14 to 16 at Olympia in London – and will include a brand new co-located show called Makers.

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