Tough landing
von Mathias Remmele | Nov 9, 2011

Of course, from the outset, the people behind Qubique bit off more than they could chew. The Berlin-based exhibition experts promised nothing less than the "next generation of trade shows", hoping that their new format would soon be as successful as the fashion fair Bread & Butter. Admittedly, the concept behind it, the notion of combining the business side to things with communications, inspiration and entertainment, is not so very new, even in the ostensibly conservative furniture industry. But what did appear more promising was the idea of bringing together "the best design and interior concepts in the world" – in other words, in contrast to the major industry events in Cologne and Milan, to focus consistently on quality instead of quantity.

However, at the end of the first issue of this fair, which took place on the grounds of Berlin's former airport at Tempelhof, everybody at all involved seems to have come down to earth with a bang. In view of the fact that expectations were high, too high, disappointment even seems to be setting in. People have complained that the image was not clear enough, that the range of exhibitors was somewhat broad, that there were not enough new products and too few visitors. They also criticized the fact that, if anything, the fair was too organized, with barriers everywhere and a barcode pass that needed to be scanned in several times for data collection purposes, something that got on some people's nerves. So, was the fair not all that it was cracked up to be? No, that was not the problem. You would have to be unrealistically optimistic to seriously expect that Qubique would achieve its self-imposed objectives the very first time it was staged. What counts and what offers hope for the fair's future is that the approach was essentially correct, as was the location.

The international design scene has long been yearning for the kind of event where quality is more important than quantity, where visitors do not have to wade through mountains of trash to reach a small number of interesting stands, where, alongside the same old familiar quality brands, it is also possible to find those small and medium-sized design companies whose programs are convincingly straightforward. Accordingly, what is crucial to the quality of the fair is less a hip entertainment program or classy food – as welcome as the latter may be – but the selection of exhibitors. The mix – contemporary design, classics and newcomers – was more or less right at Qubique. But, as far as the quality of the exhibitors was concerned, the organizers did not manage to get things quite right. Who knows whether they received bad advice or they were desperate to fill the halls. If they succeed in improving things on this front next time they will have achieved a great deal. And this would resolve the issue of whether Berlin is the right city for a furniture and interior design fair.

At any rate, Tempelhof Airport offers Qubique a wonderful backdrop. A mood that starts the moment you set foot in the atmospheric entrance hall. The old check-in counters are ideal points for issuing tickets, supplying accreditation and providing information. The small shop units where travel agents once operated could have been made as the place to install temporary premises for design galleries. And when visitors are greeted by trade fair catalogues instead of suitcases on the still functioning baggage carousels, this does put you in the right mood. This former air terminal has already proved its worth as a trade fair location, this is beyond any doubt. Everybody understood that for the organizers of Qubique a restrained approach to stand design was important in order to fit in with the special character of the premises and anyway this did not place a strain on the exhibitors' budgets. With this in mind, we can look forward to the second issue of Qubique, eagerly and with continuing goodwill. At least the date has already been fixed: October 10 through 13, 2012.

Stand-view of the Scandinavian manufacturer Muuto
Artek created a clean environment for its products
A colossal eye-catcher: Horseman out of fine mosaic by Bisazza
The Workshop Chair by Jerszy Seymour in the rough environment of the Tempelhof hangars
Clear forms and descent presentation at Pastoe
Planned roughness for the products by Jean Prouvé from the cooperation between Vitra and G-Star Raw
Installation in the entrance-hall
Lunchtime beside furniture exhibition
Flattened ice bear
The airport-hangar at Berlin-Tempelhof: Rough industrial charme for the „next generation tradeshow“, all photos: Jörg Zimmermann, Stylepark
The sophisticated carpets by Jan Kath on the right side of the picture received particular attention
Loose arrangement with colorful carpets and leather armchairs by Lange Productions from Copenhagen
Established & Sons presented their products in five room-settings
The Italian lamp-manufacturer Foscarini created a complex installation with its lamps
Manual production of high-quality hangings and coverings
Fillet as entrance cards for different fair-areas
Studio Schneemann used old beach-sandals out of plastics as start-material for lamps and furniture