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3 is a magic number: reflections on HIX 2023

Looking back on a truly memorable event and the people who made it great.

23. 11. 23

Now back at work following HIX 2023 in London’s Business Design Centre, we’ve had a chance to reflect on the project we delivered - something that we’ve been working on for several months, but that has its origins in the same event last year.

As HIX 2022 drew to a close, we began to think about how to approach the event in 2023. We’d had a good show and had exhibited new items including armchairs, dining chairs and some low stools. However, it seemed that we’d not really told a story, hadn’t given our furniture or indeed company a voice over the course of the two days. We would pack up on the Friday evening and that was it - we were gone. Our MD Sam Samuels was keen to extend the buzz of a show, pre- and post-event, and decided we’d do things differently for 2023.

At the time we were in the middle of working on a large bespoke project, and had spent almost every week over the past five months on Teams calls and site meetings, working with the designer on the details of everything that we would be installing. Looking back, it was a fantastic way to work - at each meeting we could feel things taking shape and coming to life from the initial sketches months before. We discussed exactly where each piece would be positioned on site and met at our factory to test the strength and comfort of the items.

The creative and collaborative process that emerged highlighted that we were producing something unique, and reinforced that this is the way we really love to work. Sam reflected on all the designers he had worked with since joining the industry in 1996 and since founding Furniture Fusion in 2001. He was meeting creative people all day every day, people who had generally studied design or undertaken design training. These were people who were passionate about wanting to create something from nothing, and as the years rolled by, he noticed that due to project limitations, designers were not designing perhaps as much as they would like to.

We wanted to capture the essence of this project, showcase the experience and talk about it some more. The UK has produced the most incredible artists, designers, musicians and architects - being creative is something that we do well. The plan was to speak to 3 different design studios that were very different in size, from a large architectural practice working out of five cities to a boutique design studio, and an inspiring design team that fit perfectly in between. We’d invite each to design or curate a small area on the stand, representing a key space in a hotel. 

The concepts could be as commercial or non-commercial as they liked - the aim was to shine a light on the collaborative process, sharing hints and glimpses behind the scenes in the build up to the show, before unveiling the products at HIX 2023 and sharing images, interviews and more details after the event. We’d just launched our new website so ran our ideas past the design team we worked with and from there the project really started to take shape, built around the campaign concept 3 is a magic number.

Of course, when we challenged the designers to create something special, this also challenged us to realise their designs - some concepts never made it off the sketch pad due to time and budgetary restraints. We have never worked on a project where there was no budget and it was important that we could create these items for prices that would work if they were produced commercially. 

We were able to make almost everything here in the UK - this is always our preference as it lets us stay close to the items as they’re being made, to ensure that the design translates successfully to a finished product and of course has a positive impact on the carbon footprint of the piece.

Each of the three studios opted to use some kind of sustainable or recyclable material, whether recycled fabric, board made from agricultural waste or plastic made from industrial tubes and acoustic panel waste. We understand and support the drive to use these innovative materials wherever possible, but sometimes project budgets just don’t allow for it.

As we installed the stand on the day before the event, it became clear that it was going to be something special. Each of the teams really thought about how their space could be used, and chose colours, fabrics and finishes that work perfectly against the backdrop of the stand. They also looked so good as a trio - each space with its own identity and style but complementing the others to create something really beautiful as a whole.

Without launching into an Oscars acceptance-type speech at this point, we do want to say thanks to lots of people for their input into the project - the designers 3DReid, Bell & Swift and Studio du Feu of course, suppliers including Panaz, Sunbury, Gilly Nicholson, Counter Production, Dastardly Line, Forming Reality and the Floor Story, and Graphical House for their campaign graphics, animation and website design.

There’s much to be excited about in this industry and this project highlighted the depth of talent and creativity throughout the UK. It’s been a really rewarding experience for us - we’ve loved the challenge of producing items from scratch, and working so closely with the creative teams. We hope that the campaign will encourage more designers to approach us with projects that require bespoke furniture giving us further opportunity to curate, collaborate and create.

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