Best of Britannia is a event to showcase and promote British innovation and manufacturing. BoB is the brainchild of Antony Wallis, who I've known for years since he ran a design company called Explosive in Sedley Place alongside Exposure and it was their CEO, Raoul Shah, who suggested I do the show. And I'm very glad I did.
Set in the Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell – a beautifully undeveloped and unreconstructed Victorian industrial building, spared the desecration of development by enjoying a second life as a film location – which helped Antony, Joe and Terry create a unique atmosphere where everybody felt part of something. It had none of the usual trade-show nonsense – the security staff and electricians were super-helpful, you could smoke in the courtyard and customers were allowed to wander round with drinks into the evening. They also morphed the show into an evening of entertainment with music, dinner and a chance to chat with the other exhibitors.
For me, it was a chance to put the new ARTOMATIC proposition – Make Objects Tell Stories – in front of people to see how it resonated and to showcase CONTAINER and learn what people thought about it. The whole objects thing seemed to go down very well and made a lot of sense to both exhibitors and customers alike. But, more importantly, it was clear that CONTAINER wasn't self-evident and needed explaining. What took a couple of hundred words at the beginning of Thursday, got boiled down to five – It's "a magazine made of objects" – by the middle of the second day. So, my big take out is that I need to find a way of translating this on-line.
But, the real success was the BoB show itself. With a truly eclectic collection of exhibitors from cars to taxidermy and a rich vein of creativity, it really felt like the true spirit of what Britain's best at – innovation. But, innovation in a broad, intellectual, conceptual and ideas sense, not a technological sense. In fact, there was a refreshing lack of technology at the show and instead, a surprise at every turn.
Better, though was the atmosphere and camaraderie amongst the other exhibitors and the feeling that Antony and co. were onto something that will just get better every year.