Design Insider is proud to be a media partner for The Virtual Interiors Event which has been expertly tailored for the commercial industry. The brainchild of Sally Rice and Beth Harrison, this has been created for the industry by the industry and takes place between 24th – 25th February 2021. We took the opportunity to speak with Sally about this brand new event.
Please could you introduce yourself?
I am Sally Rice – one of the co-founders of The Virtual Interiors Event. I also founded my own operations consultancy business this year; S Rice Consultancy which helps companies in the interiors sector gain more time and cost efficiencies and ultimately help increase their bottom line, Aside from my interest in the interiors industry I am also a mentor, a feminist, a photographer, a traveller, a runner and a classic furniture lover!
What is your experience in the interiors sector?
I “fell” into the commercial interiors industry just over twelve years ago and ended up sitting on the board as Operations Director of one of the UK’s largest furniture dealers. More recently I have worked on both sides of the sector, with both manufacturers and with specifiers. Throughout my time I have done everything from quoting and pricing projects, managing accounts, managing supply chain to responding to tenders (I love a tender!) and writing blogs.
What are the biggest challenges facing this sector at the moment?
Outside of the overarching challenge of getting people back into offices, education and hospitality venues, I feel we are usually an extremely social and well networked industry, both with each other but also with our potential clients and this just hasn’t been able to happen in the same way in the 10 + months, leading to a noticeable disconnect. In addition to this manufacturers in the sector have put their time and effort into developing some fantastic products that they just haven’t been able to launch in the same way.
What has this sector been calling out for in order to thrive?
For me it is two things: “Connection” and “Innovation”. The former not limited to 1:1 but of course this too, but also connection with new ideas, new products, with inspiration. The second is something I personally had to do a lot of in 2020 – thinking about new ways of working, new approaches to the challenges that we all now face, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. Companies that innovate will always come out on top, now more importantly than ever.
What is The Virtual Interiors Event?
This unique event is the ideal place for businesses and individuals within the commercial interiors industry to benefit from:
> Virtual Networking – Liaise with like-minded people from the industry from the comfort of home where delegates can generate leads, drive awareness, whilst growing their networks.
> Product innovation – The Virtual Interiors Event is the place where delegates can be get acquainted with the most intriguing products from 2020 as well as being introduced to the latest innovative products launching in 2021 and beyond.
> Thought leadership – We are delighted to have a curated selection of speakers from the industry who will provide delegates with their insights into the key topics that are pertinent to the industry today.
What will your event deliver which other event can’t?
A truly globally event made accessible to all regardless of marketing budget for event attendance, but also even more importantly it is a sustainable event – no creating of temporary stands, of hard copy literature or creating carbon by air travel. We were also really conscious we wanted to give exposure to some of the smaller businesses and lesser known speakers within our industry who would normally have been precluded from taking part in some of the larger events.
What will be the key take-aways for event visitors?
Exposure to new ideas, to new innovations in our industry, new connections and most of all – inspiration at a time when I feel we need it the most – be that in the form of products or people or thinking.
What aspects of the event are you most excited about?
Even though they make me nervous to think about we have 4 live “Rooms” during the event – the “main stage” if you like with some fantastic experts and speakers from all different parts of the industry. I am excited to hear the insights and ideas that come of the these, although I am also really looking forward to witnessing all the new connections taking place and the idea of what those might lead to.
What plans do you have for your event once you have the first one under your belt?
We are very ambitious for The Virtual Interiors Event and are very conscious that this is not just a “one-off” or an event just for right now. Yes, it was born out of the necessity for an event due to COVID, but the opportunities it offers to connect people with ideas and products unlimited by geographical location in a way that is both sustainable and accessible, we see sitting as a permanent addition to the industry calendar of events.