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Decorex at Gallagher Estates is and has been the premier decor show in Johannesburg for many years. However, it has not been able to maintain the standards of, say ten years ago

From a real-estate point of view, the 2018 show was as big as the years before. However the slippery slope of the last few years seems to have bottomed out to a hybrid between; The Rand Show, Homemakers Fair, Design Indaba, SARCDA and the rural market in KZN or Limpopo. You may consider this harsh, if only for the fact that hundreds of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers pay a small fortune and it has consistently failed to deliver.

The first hall is a mix of the old guard of interior designers some new interior and furniture designers, wholesaler importers. Then the government so called “Arts and Craft” section. Here rural craftsmen and women once again are taken to The City of Gold to make their fortune selling their baskets, beads, wood carvings and other trinkets. On their first day these poor confused mostly ladies are all bright eyed and bushy tailed, by the last day they are prepared to sell their wares for a pittance of a return bus or train trip.

The next hall is for outdoor, a Homemakers like hall, of imported garden furniture, pots, awnings and outdoor garden trinkets, interspersed with a handful of tasteful local furniture and garden pots. Perhaps it’s the poor lighting, regimented layout or just the lack of style.

Though the coffee shop to the Art hall. Here, Art retailers and a few independent painters and sculptors. Most is what one can expect to see in suburban galleries / shops in Parys, Pretoria and Stellenbosch. If the organizers had any expectations of taking on the Joburg Art Fair, then again they had failed. Cosmos, sunflowers and heavy gold frames dominate a few beautiful up and coming artists works. The few artists producing quality work are rather crowded out by predictable schlock.

Through to the supplier’s hall, where imported lighting, furniture, bathroom and laminated flooring fight it out in a format not unlike; Homemakers, Rand Show or Pretoria show.

This then flows over into the kitchen section, where over-the-top, high end kitchens and kitchen technology compete for the tiny Joburg affluent market. Tucked away in the back of this hall are the small scale food vendors, candied peanuts, champagne lollies, local wines, the latest mass market plastic kitchen gadgets.

The final expression of confusion is the 100% Design show. Here local (mostly Cape Town) designers and a handful of makers, exhibit their contemporary designer furniture, lighting, ceramics exhibit alongside more DTI funded emerging designer / makers, where products that are mostly not yet ready for retail, compete for one of the many self appointed certificates of one of the many categories of merit. Regrettably many of the 100% Design exhibitors from 2017 did not return in 2018, as I would expect fewer of 2018 exhibitors to return this year. The 100% design show is controversial to say the least, but what frustrates us, is that the only winners are Read Exhibitions. The opening function and exhibitor list is more about being seen in the right company, than selling your designs and products to the ever decreasing market of people who have both taste and money. The so called Curators and organizers of this section continue to fail to understand the market and what it will take to benefit the Designers / Makers. It is not nearly as good as any of the international design shows like NY Now, Top Drawer, and Ambiente. Not nearly as good as Joburg Art Fair. It does not have the trade potential of SARCDA, but is rather a huge aggregation of Homemakers Fair, Kamers, and Design Joburg. It is an indulgent confused and unsustainable show, especially for the Local designers, makers, wholesalers and retailers.

We suggest that you, the South African designers and makers who have not yet exhibited, to visit Decorex, but under no circumstances pay good money and resources to exhibit without careful research. Speak to exhibitors who have not returned. Find out if they covered their costs at the very least. Remember this is a retail show, however this concept is not clear to the Read Exhibition sales consultants earn their living of the commission of selling the most expensive real estate in the country.



Gallagher Estates

7th – 11th August 2019

Cape Town



1 – 5th May 2019


Durban Exhibition Centre

21 – 24th March 2019

100% Design

Gallagher Extates

7 – 11th August 201

International Sourcing Fair

Gallagher Estates

7 – 11th August 201