What is an event without furniture and decor? Well, nothing. The right design details can take an event from average to world class. So what are the latest trends? Here’s what industry experts had to say.

“The South African events industry is dynamic and unpredictable at best; however, there’s hope for industry suppliers. This lies in the influx of ‘big brands’ that continue to shift their traditional advertising budgets to below-the-line events and one-on-one consumer interactions,” explains Etienne Erasmus, MD of Rain Productions.

He continues: “Along with the increased opportunity this affords local suppliers, there is of course a sense of increased competitiveness. Gone are the days of ‘a chair is a chair’. Brands are looking for suppliers that can offer innovative solutions to their practical event infrastructure requirements, without breaking the bank. As a result, suppliers are required to continuously refresh their range of furniture and decor items to keep up with international trends and stay ahead of the game.

“From wedding clients through to large corporates, there’s a definite trend towards ‘customised’ event spaces,” Erasmus adds. “An easy way to achieve this is to offset more traditional furniture elements, such as lounge furniture, with a few high-tech or customised pieces that can transform an otherwise run of the mill space into a brand experience for consumers.”

An example of this is to combine traditional furniture elements with a few LED statement pieces, Emile Erasmus, Rain Productions’ creative director, elaborates: “The Aurorae range of LED furniture, which we launched in November last year, consists of lightweight lounge furniture with built in LED lights. These can be set to glow one of 19 different colours. By simply setting the elements to the brand colour, a space can be completely transformed in a brand-owned area while providing the practical seating – a necessity.”

Correct and sufficient furnishings determine the level of comfort and practicality at any given gathering. Putting together a temporary furniture solution is a task that is often overlooked in importance and requires much skill and know-how to execute successfully.

Vernie Naidoo is the operations manager of the hiring division at GL Events Oasys  and has over 12 years’ experience in the field. She explains the intricacies and logistics behind a hiring operation the size of GL events Oasys: “We have enough inventories to fill over 15 large furniture stores and we have truckloads of furniture moving in and out on a daily basis. Timelines and a proactive team that can think on their feet is essential for our day-to-day operations.”

The trends in event furniture and decor has undoubtedly evolved and changed over the years. “Our clients nowadays tend to be a little more adventurous and often incorporate ‘funky’ elements. However the biggest trend we’ve seen is the preference for white pieces.  White is definitely the most in-demand colour for furniture items at the moment,” says Naidoo. “Each event differs. Exhibitions may require more functional and packaged solutions like office set-ups or display cabinets for each exhibitor.”

One factor you can’t get around is the standard and quality when hiring furniture for any event. It sets the precedent for the experience and any damaged or sub-standard goods could cause irreparable reputational damage.

Naidoo continues: “The market is price sensitive but still willing to pay for quality furniture and good service – it’s such an important element and it should communicate quality to the audience. The furniture and decor determine the status of the event and must be well integrated to ensure that the client’s objectives are met. Without furniture there’s no event, which makes reliable suppliers all the more important. The prospect of a potential late or non-delivery is simply too great a risk to take. We pride ourselves on our turnaround times, reliability and punctuality.”

Dudley Horn, co-founder of The Entertainment Group, adds: “In today’s competitive environment it’s critical to use fresh thinking and a unique approach to ensure that expectations of your client are not only met, but exceeded, every time.  High production values for any event can only be achieved with an upmarket catalogue of fashionable event furniture and decor items – combined, of course, with an event management solution full of style and flair.”

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