Vollenberg with Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum at Index last year.

Vollenberg with Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum at Index last year.

Design body uses Index as Mideast showcase

June 2019

Organisation in Design chose Index exhibition last year as a stepping stone to the Middle East after evaluating a number of options, and the European studio is looking to repeat its success at this year’s event as well when it opens in Dubai in September (17 to 19).

It was early 2018 when Organisation in Design – which helps designers present and promote their work internationally –set out to enter the Middle East, a completely new market, for the first time and connect with design professionals here.

Then, founder and director Margriet Vollenberg was faced with two main challenges; the first being that the Middle East represented a brand new culture Organisation in Design was not familiar with.

Designer Siba Sahabi’s exhibit at a previous Ventura Dubai show.

Designer Siba Sahabi’s exhibit at a previous Ventura Dubai show.

The second challenge was that most of the organisation’s exhibitors had never traded in the Middle East before. They didn’t have any existing business relationships or agency agreements in the region. Nor did they have any brand awareness. They were starting from scratch, said Vollenberg.

“As is the case with entering any market for the first time, Organisation in Design wanted to understand what trading platforms were available; what are the regulations surrounding each trading platform? What’s the best way to generate leads and maximise sales in the region?” she explained.

After evaluating a number of different options, Vollenberg decided to launch Ventura Projects in Dubai and selected the Index exhibition, the region’s largest and longest-standing exhibition dedicated to all things interior design, as the launch platform.

“Given that Index was Organisation in Design’s first entry point into the Middle East market, the Index team started by providing us with information about the region upfront. This included reports on economic performance, relevant industry insight directly from prominent regional design buyers and project updates,” she said.

Through this close collaboration, the organisation was able to learn a lot about the region’s design culture before arriving at the exhibition. The 43 exhibitors who took part in Ventura Dubai met more than 100 different design buyers and were very happy with the quality of the new connections they made, Vollenberg added.

Due to the success of its participation, Organisation in Dubai has announced that it will continue its collaboration in 2019 with the second edition of Ventura Dubai at Index, and will not participate in any other design exhibitions in the Middle East apart from Index this year.

“The Index team took care of everything. Due to this perfect organisation, the exhibitors were able to dedicate their time to building as many new contacts and key relationships as possible,” said Vollenberg.

She added: “We were very happy with how everything turned out. Index showed us that it’s possible to enter a new market successfully if you work closely together and rely on each other’s expertise.”

Organisation in Design is a PR and event studio with offices in The Netherlands and Italy. Under the name Ventura Projects, it curates international contemporary design exhibitions focused on quality and concept. 

Index, meanwhile, is the largest and longest running collection of interior, design and trend exhibitions in the Middle East and North Africa. Established in 1990, it is organised by dmg events Middle East, Asia and Africa.

In 2019, seven of the region’s most influential design and hospitality focused exhibitions (including Index) will come together for three days in Dubai to create The Middle East Design & Hospitality Week, which will be held from September 17 to 19 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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