The 2008 International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) could have been so much worse. Held March 26 to 29 at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA, it came at a time when concerns were high over the state of the nation’s economy and less than two weeks after powerful storms and at least one tornado swept through the middle of town. While extensive damage to hotels and buildings were obvious in downtown Atlanta, once inside the exhibit hall it was unnoticeable.
As it turned out, more than 6,200 industry professionals attended, according to the show’s producer, Grace McNamara Inc., St. Paul, MN. A chunk of that total came as drive-in traffic as “pre-registration numbers were lower than past years’,” according to a statement on the show’s Web site.
SHIFTS AND TRENDS
A wide range of products, services and learning experiences were presented in the exhibit hall by vendors. This year there seemed to be a noticeable shift to the soft side of window coverings. Economics are having a dampening effect on many of the hard window coverings products, even custom, and more attention in the industry has been on custom fabric treatments for many months.
Sunland Shutters, one of several hard window treatment vendors at the show, presented a new sample program, in-store display and quick delivery program this year.
Another trend that has been growing strongly since the last IWCE is sustainable, or green, design. This subject was broached in many ways. Several of the fabric exhibitors this year were touting environmentally friendly fabrics and dyes, including the support of organic cotton farmers. One vendor, Iron Art by Orion, announced its involvement with Earth Island Institute, even including a contribution and match with every invoice.
Most important was the green design pavilion presented by TODL.com, an online searchable product library of interior products for contract, residential and hospitality presented as paperless design research. TODL also offered the Green Resource Guide.
Growing interest in motorization was yet another trend spotted throughout the show. Among the most prominent were Norman Shutters’ Perfect Tilt™ shutters with battery-operated remote control; a new entry from Allied International: ShutterEaze™ wireless motorized shutter control, an after-market louver tilting device; and Moon Shade Blinds from Ontario, Canada, presented a retractable arch window blind that can be hand-operated, but is even better when motorized.
MORE THAN EXHIBITS
The IWCE is more than the exhibit hall only. This year’s keynote speakers were personal finance and motivational speaker Suze Orman and Edward Walker, Walker Designs, and the television program “Trading Spaces.”
As in past years the Window Covering Manufacturers Association presented its Product Innovations Awards at the show. This year there were 33 winners receiving recognition (see D&WC March 2008, page 23).
The show is also a time for suppliers and manufactures to host hospitality suites and receptions both in appreciation of loyal customers and to entice new business in the year ahead. This year RollEase, Inc. held an adventurous affair among the fossilized remains of prehistoric creatures at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Next year, the 2009 IWCE returns to Atlanta, GA, in May.