Getting ‘Closer to Home’ with surface material innovation

The Surface Design Show will showcase the best in innovative surface design, manufacturing and development at London’s Business Design Centre in February, putting the focus on the on-trend topic ‘Close to Home’

Now in its 15th year, the Surface Design Show is claimed by its organisers to be a must-visit for architects, designers and specifiers looking for material inspiration from the UK and around the world. As well as over 180 exhibitors, visitors can also enjoy a packed speaker programme of around 30 presentations from 50 speakers across the purpose-built stages, including the Opening Night Debate and the PechaKucha evening, which will be hosted by Phil Coffey of Coffey Architects. Speakers this year include the following:

  • Daniel Campbell, director at Stiff + Trevillion Architects
  • Luke Tozer, director at Pitman Tozer Architects
  • Joe Morris, founding director of Morris+Company
  • Richard Wilson RA, a renowned sculptor known for his “interventions in architectural space”
  • Jerry Tate, partner at Tate Harmer
  • Faye Davies, principal at Burrell Foley Fischer
  • Stella Ioannou, director of Lacuna.

The event’s ‘Close to Home’ theme will look beyond aesthetics and into manufacturers’ impact on the environment – from the processes used in mining or manufacture, through to the carbon footprint sustained during sales and distribution. ‘Designing with a conscience’ will also be examined, from reusing waste materials to looking at what happens at the end of a product’s life cycle.

As well as established brands, the Surface Design Show is dedicated to promoting up-and-coming designers in the materials sector with its New Talent section, curated by creative director at Trendease International, Jennifer Castoldi. Some of the exhibitors include West by Design Limited which features hand painted, artisan wallpaper inspired by the rugged and North Yorkshire countryside; and Studio Gilles Werbrouck, a high-end textile studio creating unique handmade pieces focusing on innovative ways to present knitted textiles in the interior.

Surface Spotlight Live is a section of the show, which is wholly focused on the ‘Close to Home’ theme. Curated by trend expert Sally Angharad and forecasters Colour Hive, the exhibit will take a look at what the future holds for materials. Stone Gallery also returns for 2020, accompanied by the Stone Knowledge Hub, supported by the leading industry body Stone Federation GB, which will form a focal point for the event where architects and designers can interact with, and learn more about, specifying natural stone.

Light School is a key component of the show, reflecting the fact that London is the world’s capital for lighting design specification. Here, leading manufacturers will demonstrate the relationship between light and surfaces, as well as showcasing the latest architectural lighting products and innovations in lighting technology. Light Talks, a series of sessions supported by the Institution of Lighting Professionals and collated by Rebecca Weir from Lightbout.IQ will underpin this knowledge sharing.

The winners of the Surface Design Awards will also be revealed during the two and half days. Architectural practices including Steven Holl Architects, Mikhail Riches, AECOM, WilkinsonEyre and Chris Dyson Architects are among those shortlisted for the 2020 awards. These practices were shortlisted as they “exemplify creative use of surface materials and lighting.” There are 39 projects across 14 categories in total, from retail and public buildings to commercial projects and housing, including new categories in public realm and affordable housing for 2020. Demonstrating the truly international reach of the awards, now in their sixth year, projects on the shortlist spanned 13 countries from 34 different organisations, with emerging practices represented alongside established firms.

The 2020 judging panel of industry experts is co-chaired by Paul Priestman from PriestmanGoode and Amin Taha from Groupwork. The remaining judges are Nikki Barton, British Airways; Sean Griffiths, Modern Architect; Charles Holland, Charles Holland Architects; Glenn Johnson, Collins Aerospace; Daniel Mota Veiga, KEF / GP Acoustics and Steve Webb, Webb Yates Engineers.

Tickets are free to professional and trade visitors. Register at