At nine o’clock on the morning of the eighth of August I, Lee-Anne Geldenhuys, boarded the Gautrain for the very first time, heading for Midrand.  On arrival at Decorex Jo’burg, I smugly skipped the already enormous line, aiming straight for the VIP counter, where I had sweet talked my way into press pass.  Not quite knowing this entitled me to, I clipped my press badge onto my new Zara blazer’s lapel, and feeling fancy I burst forth onto the busy scene that was to fold around me for the rest of the day.  

I discovered just how handy that little piece of purple cardboard was the instant I tried to take a photo of the David Muirhead stand (winner of an excellence award) – a very polite, but insistent gentleman chastised me for even having thought of it, but one quick purple flash from me, and it was all smiles and business cards.  (Their stand was beautiful, by the way – dark and atmospheric, lit up with bright yellow accents.)  They were the 2012 Decorex Designer Spotlight – “each year, Decorex invites one of the country’s leading designers to style up a space to showcase their current inspiration and interpretation of up to date trends.(So said my press release.)

And so my love of the Purple Press Pass Power grew, and I wielded my cell phone and camera shamelessly. 

As I surged forward with the crowd,  I tried my utmost not to be overwhelmed by the amount of new and exciting ideas that swirled around me – after the David Muirhead stand, I came across the first of many refreshment stands: the M-Net Cares Café“The lettering-inspired M-Net Cares Café is an M-Net, Decorex Joburg and Salvocorp (the official distributor of Staron engineered stone by Samsung) initiative to raise awareness of and collect book donations for the M-Net Naledi Children’s Literacy Project.”  The café sported bookshelf designs by the likes of Anatomy Designs, Goet, Re-create, Tonic, Raw Studio’s among others – visitors were encouraged to bring along “pre-loved” children’s books to donate.  I donated a well thumbed “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” with some sadness, but carried on, knowing my good deed for the day had been done.  (Please understand that although it was a small gesture, I really loved that book.)

Other highlights included the Mercedes Benz Man Caves – local celebs were coupled with designers to create the ultimate in masculine decor, and visitors could vote for their favourite by donating money to the charities chosen by the design teams.  These teams were Bob Mabena and Heidi Arenstein from Future Classics, Tumisho Masha and Ockert Snyman from Jacket Interiors, Jason Greer and Adam Levin from Imagine Nation and Mo G and Lee Ann from Mezzanine Interiors.

The main design influence that was carried throughout the exhibition was that of the new Plascon Colour Forecast.  The 2013 colours were released at the show, with stands created by Laurence Brick, Yvonne O’Brien, Egg Designs and Ink Design Lab interpreting each colour palette.

Along with this came the Plascon Colour Café where all the new colour schemes came together to create atmosphere where you could rest your feet and quench your thirst. (Decorex is huge.  You need that break.)  It was also the perfect vantage point to view the Plascon Fashion Show.  The fashion show showcased the interpretations of the 2013 colour schemes by four top designers – Tiaan Nagel, Lunar, Anisa Mpungwe from Loin Cloth & Ashes and Fundudsi by Craig Jacobs.  In the words of Mr Jacobs, “We’ve all witnessed the blurring of the lines between fashion, decor and other lifestyle trends in recent years.”  

If you weren’t inspired enough after all that, you could head over to the Plascon Inspire Theatre, where talks were going on all day, every day, covering subjects such as upcycling household items, painting techniques, and paint product knowledge.  Plascon was definitely putting the show to good use.

Otherwise there was the stunning Contemporary Country installation by the Laurence Brick Creative Direction Team (which also won an excellence award), Masterchef demonstrations, the Decorex Designer Collection sale, the Graham Beck Wine Bar by Wetherleys, and over seven hundred other stands in five halls to keep visitors busy. 

My personal highlights included meeting Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly, an idol of mine, (That may be an understatement – I want to be her when I grow up.) when I ventured into the VIP and Media Lounge, as well as the sprawling South African Handmade Collection.

Decorex has most certainly become a powerhouse in the decor and design world since its inception in 1994, and one has to admire the amount of work and planning that goes into not only the actual products, but into the stands.  They are all really beautiful, and only while keeping tabs on the run up to the show did I realise how much effort goes in behind the scenes.  

To tell the full tale of my Decorex adventure would require many more blog posts, and a great many more photo’s, so all I can really suggest is having a look at the Decorex SA Facebook page and Pinterest account for more photo’s (those photo’s that I didn’t take in this post came from there), as well as making a turn at the next show in Durban.  

Happy decorating! 

- Lee

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