Design Economy Expo Brings Eclectic Brands Together at Atlanta Design Festival

Jennifer Bradley Franklin

As the Atlanta Design Festival, produced by MA!, takes the city by storm, delighting design enthusiasts with panel discussions, interactive exhibits, and architecture tours, the Design Economy Expo will be of particular interest to those in the trade. Running today through Saturday, June 8, the expo will take over nearly 11,000 square feet of space in the M. Rich Center for Creative Arts, Media & Technology in South Downtown.

The three-day event, curated to appeal to a variety of modern design interests, includes engaging installations from design brands, talks with design luminaries, pop-up-style shops by fashion and accessories brands, and continuing education classes for professionals.

“We’ve tried to create a gallery-like experience with the show. It’s not a traditional trade fair. Instead, we have curated the designers and items, focusing a lot on international design,” Elayne DeLeo, cofounder of MA! (short for Modern Atlanta), tells AD PRO. “We also bring in some local talent we feel that are doing some really interesting things here in the city.”

Objects on display from Baux’s exhibit at the Expo.
Photo: Courtesy of BAUX

Some of the 42 exhibitors include Baux, a French manufacturer of acoustic design products; Biomega bikes; Sander Hagelaar, an artist and designer from Amsterdam; Umage, a Danish furniture and lighting brand; British streetwear brand Ivan Clothing; and Danish Fuel, a company that repurposes old World War II water canteens into bars. “These are brands we love for their simplicity and the quality of materials they use,” DeLeo explains. “Even though designers are mostly scouting new product for projects, we feel like it’s nice to give them a little bit more than just your typical furniture show.”

Some local Atlanta showrooms will be represented in the Expo as well, including Habachy Designs + Atelier, showcasing its brands Overgaard & Dyrman and Mater, and lighting store Illuminations displaying its repped brands, including Flos, Rich Brilliant Willing, and Artemide. Asheville, North Carolina–based artisan pottery maker East Fork, which opened a boutique in Atlanta in December, will also display some of its wares. Additionally, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Industrial Design program and Kennesaw State University’s School of Architecture will have a presence on-site.

The location of the Expo itself, a refurbished early-1900s structure in a once-depressed area of South downtown Atlanta, has been completely refreshed, thanks to a multimillion-dollar investment by Germany-based developer Newport Holdings. “It’s beautiful with its historic hardwood floors, brass railings, and an amazing atrium window,” DeLeo says. “We feel like it’s a nice juxtaposition between the contemporary design we’re showing and the history of the building.”

The event is free, but registration is required.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest