Whichever way you look at it, the sheer size of the events listed below go a long way in supporting the argument that consumer interest in handmade is alive and well. These events are spread across the world and they represent some of the best international platforms for designer-makers.
One of the more well known consumer exhibitions in Europe, Ambiente is organized by Messe Frankfurt. In 2013 the show recorded 4714 exhibitors, 75% of whom were non German. In terms of foot traffic, there were an estimated 140,000 visitors walking the grounds during the 5 day period.
Ambiente has labelled itself as the 'most important consumer goods trade fair' and is expecting to see an increase in the number of exhibitors this year.
During the second half of the year, Messe Frankfurt choreographs Tendence, with show dates scheduled as 30August- 2September 2014. As part of the showcase, Tendence spotlights Africa Chic, a pavilion dedicated to designer-makers from Africa. Past exhibitors at Africa Chic include Kenana Knitters [Kenya], Gahaya Links [Rwanda] and Doreen Mashika [Zanzibar].
24-28January, 5-9September [Paris, France] 10-13March 2014 [Singapore]
Translating to mean 'home and object', Maison & Objet is described as the 'reference event destination for the interior design industry'. 3000 brands display at the 5day event, attracting an approximate 85,000 visitors. Sectors represented are showcased as an experience, rather than as mere objects, contributing to the cutting edge, visionary and innovative design event that Maison & Objet is.
28February-2march 2014 [Cape Town, South Africa]
Since its inception in 2004, Design Indaba Expo has consistently provided a platform for the best of African design. Various disciplines including advertising, fashion, craft and graphic design find their place at Africa's premier design and lifestyle event. Estimates put ticket sales at 35,000 people, with this number expected to increase, given Cape Town's status as the World Design Capital 2014.For the first time this year, the Expo will feature Africa is Now, an exhibition seeking to celebrate African innovation by 'showcasing creations of exemplary ingenuity that are intrinsically connected to their locale in Africa'.
4. Salon International de l'Artisanat de Ouagadougou
31October-9November 2014 [Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso]
Staged every 2 years, SIAO will this year be celebrating its 14th edition, with the theme 'African handicrafts, women's entrepreneurship and social protection.' Arguably the biggest in Africa, the first salon was held in 1988 with 20 participating countries and 150,000 visitors. 10 editions later in 2012, the salon hosted 3384 artisans from 32 countries and welcomed nearly 310,000 art and craft enthusiasts. Registration for participation is currently ongoing.
1-6February, 16-20August 2014 [New York, New York]
Held twice annually at the world famous Javits Convention Center, 'the market for home & lifestyle' plays host to 2800 exhibiting companies and 35,000 guests at each of its shows. In 2013, the event reorganized to feature 4 collections including NY NOW Home, NY NOW Lifestyle, NY NOW Handmade and NY NOW New.
Co-located within NY NOW is Artisan Resource, a service-event that serves to connect US based importers with international producers. In 2013, 100 companies representing 25 countries exhibited under the Artisan Resource banner.
6. SARCDA International
6-9March 2014 [Johannesburg, South Africa]
Celebrating 45 years, SARCDA has in the past received fantastic reviews for the high level of detail that goes into the event. Held at the Gallagher Convention Centre, the show is a trade-only event, allowing only trade visitors into the exhibition halls [no access to the public]. Children, pets and photography are also disallowed.
Traditionally, SARCDA organizes two trade events in March & August- the latter being referred to as SARCDA Christmas. Each show boasts over 600 exhibitors [many of whom have been showcasing since its inception] and attracts an average 27,000 attendees.
7. Santa Fe International Folk Art Market
11-13July 2014, Santa Fe, New Mexico
UNESCO City of Folk Art.
According to statistics drawn from the organization's website, 2013 saw the participation of 150 artists from 57 countries, almost half of whom were first time exhibitors. 20,925 people attended the event, generating sales of over 2million USD.
8. World Craft Council
18-22October 2014 [Dongyan, China]
15th Contemporary Arts and Crafts Masterwork Exhibition and International Crafts Exhibition.
Founded in 1964, the Council is registered as an international NGO and boasts consultative status to UNESCO. The Council aims to 'strengthen the status of crafts as a vital part of cultural and economic life.' In 2012, Chennai India played host to the World Craft Summit- where 500 exhibitors from 50 countries showcased.
9. Smithsonian Folklife Festival
25-29June, July2-July4 2014 [Washington DC]
Launched in 1967, the festival is a celebration of global culture. The event takes place over two weeks, overlapping with the 4th of July independence day celebrations. Over the years, the festival has hosted 23,000 cultural practitioners from all over the world, creating a dynamic exchange of values and traditions with the over 1million visitors who throng the event every year.
Kenya is expected to participate at this year's event, making it only the 5th African country to do so. The festival presents a great opportunity to interact with the diaspora- a market for handmade yet untapped.
10. Art in Action
17-20July 2014 [Oxford, UK]