by Lisa on October 14, 2010


It’s been a jam packed long weekend for Quirk Design, full of inspiration, way too much walking and plenty of pamphlets.

We’ve been fans of the television series Grand Designs for quite some time. The homes on there range from modest community built villages to the extraordinarily expensive London abodes, but no matter what the size or budgets are, each one is filled with it’s own unique challenges and milestones that always manage to inspire us to continue our dream of one day building our own Grand Design. The passionate commentary by presenter Kevin McCloud, makes you feel you’re part of the home being built as he guides you through the techniques, pitfalls and beauty that lies within each design. It’s thanks to this enthusiasm from Mr McCloud and the wonder of these homes that we have been eagerly awaiting our visit to the Grand Design Live show.

Long pink entrance walkway

Our picture perfect dream of the exhibition centre being filled with ecological prefab homes fitted with the latest and greatest in home design and technology was unfortunately diminished after walking through the dramatic entrance and then realising we had entered what looked like a gigantic trade show. Maybe we we’re a little naive and expected too much but after spending many a night watching stunning homes displayed on their tv series, we expected more than just row after row of tradespeople selling their goods.

Huge balls above the entrance

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time as you can see by the 78 brochures, 2 books, 2 catalogues, 4 business cards and one wine pourer we carried out and if we were in the process of building a home it would have been prefect, but as current renters looking for designs to showcase and inspire our own Grand Design we were a little disappointed.

The highlight for us was meeting Mr McCloud in person and what a delightful encounter that was. Back in my dancing days, I meet quite a few celebrities but this was different. After waiting in line to have our copy of The Grand Tour book signed, we were blown away with the friendly and personal approach he had. Our longer than expected conversation made us feel like we’d been longtime friends which made our day.

Some of the more interesting finds of the day included glass lights, mirrored sillouhettes, unique office pods, eco lighting and a few more we’ll share with you shortly and although it seems we weren’t happy about the show, we did have a great time but there were certainly a few things they could have done to improve our experience.

The main entrance and meeting point were fantastic and certainly had us believing that this would be an amazing show. While standing in the main meeting area, each section was clearly marked and highlighted so you knew where you were, unfortunately, we found that once you were in each section be it outdoor, building or kitchens, there was a lost feeling as nothing was highlighted to match the section you chose to head into. We stopped a few times to check out the map only to find we were in a completely different spot to where we thought we’d be. There were swarms of people so that certainly didn’t help the navigational skills, but seeing as they went to so much effort to create an ellaborate starting point, we would have expected the same effort and style to carry through each area.

The biggest disappointment for us as we’ve mentioned, is that it was more of a tradeshow than a showcase of unique, innovative and GRAND designs. Perhaps had there been warning of this on their website, then we wouldn’t have felt as cheated as we did an unless we were in the market for building materials, unfortunately we wouldn’t rush to go to next years show. With a few additions, such as before and after renovation rooms, this could live up to the tv series in inspiring people to live in the dream home over dreaming of it.

Have you been to the Grand Design Live show or any other home shows that you enjoyed or we’re disappointed in? Tell us all about it, we’d love to know what you thought?

Images by Quirk Design

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