Angela Chatfield looks back on 25 exciting years of Decorex Joburg.

As Decorex Joburg celebrates its milestone 25th edition this year, one of the industry stalwarts – Angela Chatfield – recalls some of the more standout moments that make this a leading exhibition.

The General Manager for Sales for Decorex SA at Reed Exhibitions, Angela was recently awarded as one of the Top 40 Women in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) for 2018, a worthy honour for such a dynamic industry figure.


Getting to know Angela

Starting with Decorex Joburg as a sales’ consultant 25 years ago, Angela went on to head up the Decorex SA sales team for the next 23 years. Holding a BSc in chemistry and biology, Angela chose to pursue a career in the exhibitions’ space and this, coupled with her passion for design, made Decorex her ideal work environment. Her incredible business ethic and knowledge of the industry have been pivotal to the growth of the brand. From just 500m2 space featuring 144 exhibitors and welcoming 26 000 visitors in 1994, Decorex Joburg is now Africa’s largest décor exhibition spanning seven halls, featuring over 700 exhibitors and close to 55 000 visitors.

Taking a few minutes out of her incredibly busy schedule, Angela shared some of her best memories of Decorex Joburg over a decade and a half, highlighting how the team had managed to remain at the top of their game.

In the 25 years, which design installation really stood out for you?

This has to be David Muirhead’s design for the Decorex Designer Spotlight. It was in 2014, the first year we introduced this feature, and he really just blew us away with this breath-taking, double volume build. It was such an iconic feature and really showed his talent.

Over the years, which designer has made an impact on you?

The Decorex Joburg patron, Stephen Falcke, produces some of the most amazing designs. He won the Andrew Martin International Interior Designer of the Year, the most prestigious design award globally, and his annual feature at Decorex Joburg is always incredible.

What is your favourite trend over the past 25 years?

I think the lightwood Scandinavian trend, first seen at the Maison & Objet in Paris, was my favourite décor trend. So versatile and tactile.

Are there any products or appliances you recall really making an impact on the audience?

The launch of the SMEG appliances, definitely. This was basically the first time we were seeing such bright colours in kitchen products and appliances. We were all so used to the whites and silvers, so these made a real impact.

How has the internet and social media impacted Decorex?

The internet really exposed us all to the global design trends and propelled our incorporation of international trends, while also giving local décor styles some worthy impetus. Social media has really enhanced our learning of the local market and made décor and design so much more accessible.

What has remained consistent over the 25 years?

While the size of the show has increased, the quality of our stands has remained steadfast. Our design stands are truly amazing. We are also able to showcase the latest trends, revealing them to an eager market while uncovering some of the country’s best talent.

Which of the new features is your favourite and why?

I love the @home Trend Home by Decorex. It shows how you can put the home together so cleverly, essentially using the lovely variation of products from one quality retailer.

How do you feel the décor space has changed in 25 years?

There is a much more Afrocentric influence and more local content being included in design. Not just in fabrics, but in art, carpets and even lighting. We’ve seen Africa, as a brand, truly explode. Another change has been how we conceptualise space. Where before, smaller spaces were overlooked, we are now trying to use every element of space cleverly, through well-designed products and furniture. This is extending into the garden, which is an extension of the home. Greening and recycling are also incredibly vital.

How do you feel the exhibition space has changed in 25 years?

With so many new expos it’s a much more competitive market and we’ve had to adapt to keep ahead. Where it just used to be ‘décor’, we’ve had to extend our categories, incorporating ‘plan and build’, ‘bathrooms’, ‘kitchen and appliances’, ‘landscaping’, and many others. We’re also collocating with the likes of 100% Design South Africa and the International Sourcing Fair. This just adds so much value for both trade and consumer visitors.

25 Years for Decorex expo in Johannesburg
Tagged on: