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An interview with managing director Laurent De Greef

Gommaire debuts at Antwerp Design Week

The brand Gommaire is participating at Antwerp Design Week for the first time this year. ADW interviewed Laurent De Greef, the managing director of the relatively young Belgian company about its debut.

Why did you decide to participate in ADW this year?
'The concept appealed to us. In Belgium, we excel in developing decoration and furniture. That alone is reason enough to get involved. I believe that sometimes Belgians tend to be too modest in showcasing our strengths. We often see this at international trade shows. Especially as a relatively new brand, you often hear reactions like, "Another Belgian brand". I also strongly believe in strength in numbers. The more companies participate, the stronger we become in convincing customers to make the trip. Most of our colleagues, including ourselves, have showrooms. Here, you can showcase more than you could at a trade show. You can display the entire collection, but often fewer people visit. It should be the other way around. It's an opportunity to show our customers the full range and take the time for it. Trade shows are often crowded, and people are tired. This way, we can give more attention to the customer themselves. We can fully immerse them in our atmosphere.'

How do you plan to attract visitors to your showroom?
'ADW handles this aspect neutrally and effectively for all participating companies. Each company receives equal attention. If the customer has a connection with your product, they won't hesitate to visit, I believe. ADW organises the bigger picture, and it's up to us as companies to add something extra. We have invited two additional participants to our showroom. I think we should reward customers for making the effort to visit. Silk-ka, a specialist in silk flowers, will host several workshops on flower arranging with silk flowers. The owner of "Omar Antwerp", specialising in cushions, is a childhood friend of mine. These companies complement our products nicely. You can't organise such an extra feature at a trade show.'

How will you approach it?
'We've decided to showcase the entire new collection during ADW. Usually, a collection preview is done at a trade show. Because we have much more space here, it's the perfect opportunity to guide visitors around and present the new fall collection and the 2025 outdoor collection. Normally, these would only be shown in September. We've worked hard to be able to showcase our new collection already in June.'

Do you think small-scale events will become more important in the long term?
'I see quite a few shifts. I've been going to trade shows for a long time, first as a retailer and now as an exhibitor. You notice that in certain trade shows, halls disappear, and there are fewer exhibitors. It costs a fortune to participate in an international trade show. Sometimes trade shows spread out across the city. Certain brands, for example, may have a small stand at the trade show, sometimes even no stand, but they have a showroom in the city. It needs to be practically feasible. I always think about the customer because I've been on the other side for years.'

How do you see the future?
'We already have double the number of participating companies compared to last year. It's important that the organization remains neutral and ensures that it remains comfortable for customers to make the effort to come to Antwerp. The offering and quality of the companies must remain high enough so that the segment is right. I think ADW is doing very well and is attracting the right audience. Furthermore, it's also important to have enough diversity. It's a small world, and we all know each other. It's important that all brands remain true to themselves and contribute in their own way.'

'I hope this year will be a great success. We're organising a private event for our regular customers on Sunday evening. Personally, I would have liked to connect a party to ADW together with all customers and colleagues at a unique location in Antwerp. That's something I proposed personally. But then you have to get everyone on the same page, and that's of course quite an organisation. Maybe this will be possible in the future. For now, we're doing it ourselves and giving the festive kick-off on Sunday evening. The bow doesn't always have to be tense, right?'

More information:
Antwerp Design Week


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