April 18, 2024

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Elaine O’Connell, Vice President – Design and Hospitality Division, dmg events, walks us through the exciting INDEX 2024 program, participating companies, and her vision for INDEX in the next five years.

What do you view as your greatest achievement in this role to date?

My greatest achievement in this role has been fostering collaboration within the design and hospitality industry through the various platforms and events hosted by dmg: events across the globe in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. By providing opportunities for the industry to connect, share ideas, and explore new trends, we’ve been able to catalyse innovation and drive positive change across the sector. Additionally, I’m proud of the work culture we’ve cultivated within our team—a culture passionate about delivering exceptional platforms and events for the industry. We’ve built a team eager to come to work each day, fueled by a shared commitment to excellence and a collective vision for the future of design and hospitality.

Talk us through this year’s INDEX Program?

We are meticulously curating this year’s event to reflect the ever-evolving design and fit-out industry landscape. With 11 distinct product sectors spanning furniture, kitchen, bathroom, lighting, and more, INDEX 2024 will showcase brands from over 34 countries, offering visitors a rich tapestry of global innovation and creativity, making it the ultimate destination for discovery and inspiration. 

We recently hosted our advisory board meeting, where industry leaders across the MENA region, including Pooja Shah Mulani from LW, Salma Aboul-Ela from LITE Development, Arjan Pitt from UNStudio, Will Plowman from Foster + Partners, and Hakan Ozkasikci from Kerzner International, shared their insights and event feedback. Building on these insights, we are crafting our conference sessions that address pressing challenges such as responsible design, strategic and adaptive design, non-payment of contracts, value engineering, experimental design, talent retention, collaboration, and much more the design community faces. Moreover, INDEX’s co-location with four other shows—The Hotel Show, Leisure Show, Workspace, and the exciting new launch this year, Kidspace—creates a dynamic ecosystem of innovation, fostering collaboration and showcasing every facet of the industry, locally and globally. 

What is the future of events? Where does the opportunity lie for INDEX’s future success?

The future of events lies in creating immersive and engaging experiences that bring people together to exchange ideas and explore new trends. For INDEX, the opportunity for future success lies in our ability to adapt to changing market dynamics, embrace innovation in event technology, and continuously enhance our value to our exhibitors and visitors, which is our highest priority.

With a few months before the doors open, how is that vision progressing from an exhibitors’ point of view?

Exhibitors are enthusiastic about presenting their latest innovations and connecting with the right buyers and stakeholders across various sectors, such as hospitality, commercial real estate, interior design, and retail. With tailored offerings and targeted networking opportunities, exhibitors are well-positioned to make significant connections and drive business growth at INDEX 2024. Our focus on creating a dynamic and engaging showcase for their products and services has resonated positively with exhibitors, driving anticipation for the event. In fact, 88% of exhibitors indicated they would be back for 2024, highlighting the high satisfaction levels and the value they see in participating in the exhibition.

Tell us about the current roster of exhibitors, and how you think that might progress over the coming months?
Our current roster of exhibitors includes a mix of established industry players and innovative newcomers across various sectors of the design and fit-out industry. Among them, we have Gautier, TDD, Electra, Kohler, Bloomr, Sedar to name a few. We anticipate that this roster will continue to grow and diversify over the coming months as more brands recognise the value of participating in INDEX. We’re excited to see how the exhibitor lineup evolves and contributes to the event’s success.

What makes working in events specifically within the business interior/design world rewarding?

Events like INDEX put us at the forefront of industry trends, enabling us to collaborate with innovative brands and thought leaders to create impactful experiences. Witnessing the transformation of spaces and introducing cutting-edge technologies is deeply satisfying. Moreover, facilitating meaningful connections and partnerships within the design community adds a profound sense of purpose to our work. Overall, the fast-paced environment and the opportunity to drive positive change and innovation make working in events within the design and hospitality world exciting and fulfilling. 

What would you say to any brands who are considering exhibiting?

I encourage any brands considering exhibiting at INDEX to seize the opportunity to showcase their products and services to a highly targeted audience of distributors, interior designers, architects, procurement, project owners, real estate developers and many more from the MENA region. Our event provides a platform for brands to gain exposure, generate leads, and forge valuable partnerships to accelerate their business growth. With our extensive marketing reach and tailored exhibitor packages, participating in INDEX is a strategic investment in your brand’s success.

What is different about the INDEX this year?

This year, we’re particularly excited about the flooring and surfaces section, which forms the foundation of interior design and plays a pivotal role in shaping the ambience of any space. Leading companies like Surfaces Furnishing, BSH Walls & Floors, Sedar, The Design Destination, Berger Paints, Greenlam, Reliance Veneer, and many more have already secured their spots, offering attendees an extensive array of cutting-edge solutions and design inspirations. Coupled with a renewed emphasis on sustainability and innovation in the conference sessions at INDEX Design Talk and Flooring and Surfaces Summit, INDEX 2024 will be the ultimate destination for industry professionals seeking the latest trends and innovations in interior design.

Where is your biggest opportunity for growth?

Our most significant opportunity for growth lies in expanding our reach and relevance within the global design community. By attracting a diverse audience of exhibitors and attendees, forging strategic partnerships, and leveraging emerging technologies, we can further solidify INDEX’s position as the premier design trade show in the MENA region.

What types of businesses should exhibit at INDEX?

INDEX caters to a diverse range of businesses across various sectors within the design industry. With 11 distinct product sectors, including Furniture and Components, Accessories & Decor, Kitchen & Bath, Textiles & Furnishings, Lighting & Home Automation, Design & Fit-out, Art, Modular Structures, Architectural Hardware, Flooring & Surfaces, and Sleep, the exhibition offers a comprehensive platform for exhibitors specialising in these areas. Whether you’re an established leading brand or a budding startup, if you have products or services that cater to the design community, INDEX provides an unparalleled platform to showcase your offerings and connect with potential buyers and partners.

What is your vision for INDEX in five years’ time?
In five years, our vision for INDEX is to elevate the event as the definitive destination for the design and fit-out industry in the MENA region. I envision a larger and more diverse exhibition floor, an expanded educational and networking opportunities lineup, and a heightened focus on sustainability and innovation. I also see INDEX playing an increasingly prominent role in driving positive change and fostering collaboration within the design community.

What are the key factors which have driven your growth to date in the region?
Several key factors have driven our growth in the region, including our unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional value to exhibitors and attendees, our ability to adapt to changing market dynamics and emerging trends, and our strong relationships within the design and fit-out industry. Our focus on innovation, creativity, and customer-centricity has enabled us to stay ahead of the curve and remain the leading interior design and fit-out trade show in the Middle East.

In terms of the competitive landscape and other companies and professionals in the events space, are people adjusting quickly enough? What does the future hold?

The events industry is constantly evolving, and while some companies and professionals are adjusting quickly to meet changing demands and expectations, there is always room for improvement. Those who embrace innovation, technology, and a customer-centric approach are best positioned for success in the future. As for the future, I believe the events industry will continue to thrive as long as we remain agile, adaptable, and focused on delivering exceptional experiences for our clients and attendees.

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