Last week, using one of my Bite Outside days*, I went to work at Tent & Super Brands London, an interiors trade fair exclusively for established global design brands. As part of The London Design Festival, Tent London is one of the largest design trade shows that takes place during the London Design Festival each September. In its sixth year Tent London had over 200 international exhibitors, showing the very latest in contemporary interior products – furniture, lighting, ceramics, textiles, materials and accessories. Regarded as the most cutting-edge and progressive trade exhibition during the London Design Festival, there were over 19,000 international trade buyers, media and design savvy consumers from 44 different countries at the four-day event. Offered the opportunity by a friend to help out, I managed to get down on the Thursday and Saturday for a bit of mingling with designers, exhibitors and media from around the world. Working on a stand alongside exuberant French designer, Nathalie Lete, whose work has been coveted by everyone from Disneyland to Chanel, I was given insight into this quirky designer whose work has been described as being, “naive and poetic, sometimes strange”. In one discussion about her curious “boucherie” range which includes steak rugs and children toys made out of meat parts (yep, you heard right) she explained how she was inspired by traditional French butchers who used to hang their meat in shop windows with flowers as decoration. Reminiscent of the juxtaposition between the beauty and sadness that she felt at graveyards, Nathalie was inspired to create a whole range of products which contrasts meat with flowers. You really do have to see it to believe it, so a few photos follow below.I also met designers from both start-ups and established companies alike, including the CEO of Joseph Joseph, (those funny folding chopping boards), the guys from Mix magazine, the colour, design and trend magazine that forecasts colour, materials and product trends for the next quarter, and a rather odd man who claimed to have designed the “world’s strangest speaker” as voted for by What Hi-Fi. The whole incident was so bizarre that unfortunately, the product name escapes me. I also met a number of retailers and e-tailers including the Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director of Dalani and a couple of bloggers who are setting up shop after seeing how e-tail is booming with the likes of made.com and fab.com. Whether you know them as e-tailers, e-commerce or social shopping sites, this new approach to commerce, which reaches out to consumers online through a hybrid of social and content, is believed to be the future of consumerism. In an age of hyper-connectivity, whereby the voice of social media is so strong, it is essential for brands to reach out to their audience in new ways, be it through content, imagery or film. Something I think these sites do brilliantly. As it is impossible to ignore in a socially networked world, it is also important for conversations to take place across a vast array of digital channels, both established and emerging, to achieve maximum audience engagement. Having previously attended an event on “The Future of Fashion: Tech Trendsetter” run by General Assembly which saw speakers from three start-ups discussing the future of online shopping, it is clear that we are looking at start-up e-tailers becoming more and more popular in 2013. All in all, it was interesting to experience a totally different world, and meet some truly inspiring designers whilst getting some trade-fair experience under my belt. Although I have to say, being on your feet for 15 hours straight definitely taught me that I could never work in retail. Now for the best bit – two days at a trade fair and you didn’t honestly expect me to come home empty handed? Ok, so I couldn’t afford that £11,000 sofa but instead settled on purchasing a pack of “party snails”. Designed by Taiwanese start-up, SoulFun, party snails ensure you never have any trouble when trying to locate your own glass at a party. Now their biggest ambassador, I can confirm that it is true, everyone needs a party snail. * For those of you who don’t know, we have an HR initiative in the UK which gives Biters the opportunity to get out of the office for two days a year and do something to enhance their career or lifestyle, be it work related or not.