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Trade fair meets festival

What modern trade fairs can learn from Coachella

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The Coachella Festival in the Colorado Desert in California is one of the world’s most famous festivals. It is regularly in the top three globally when it comes to the number of tickets sold. However, Coachella is much more than “just” a music festival. Those who explore further than the main stages and the countless influencers will quickly see that the desert event has much more to offer from the world of modern art – making it a creative and multi-dimensional world of discovery. Find out here what modern trade fairs can learn from this mega-event.

Revelling fans at a concert

The Coachella Festival concept really draws the crowds. Around 250,000 festivalgoers flocked through the gates this year, making Coachella the world’s second-biggest festival. (Photo: Vishnu R Nair, Unsplash)

What is the Coachella Festival?

The Coachella Festival draws thousands of visitors to the Californian desert each year. For more than 20 years, festivalgoers have been enjoying music by great artists from all kinds of genres. Coachella is especially popular among millennials and Gen Zers . From alternative rock and hip-hop to electronic music, there’s something for all music lovers here. In recent years, global stars such as Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Prince and Beyoncé have performed here on various stages – the Coachella Festival seems to feature an endless stream of music legends. And, of course, the crowds follow: a total of around 250,000 music fans attended the two festival weekends in April 2023. In the influencer world , the desert event is something of a must, and has become a place that is much more than a festival. A place to see and be seen, but also a place for inspiration and creativity.

Incidentally, the festival’s full name is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – and there’s a good reason for that.

Art installations at Coachella

Away from the main stages, Coachella is a colourful and diverse environment, with locally and internationally known artists exhibiting their works. (Photo: coachella.com)

The Coachella Festival’s modern art scene

The festival is different to many others in that its focus is not limited to music. It is also a celebration of modern art, design and architecture. In recent years, numerous regionally and internationally known artists have exhibited their work at the event, thereby reaching a large audience. The immersive works invite visitors to explore playful new interpretations in several dimensions of music, art and fashion, and create a new space for connection and community. A one-dimensional festival thereby becomes a world of discovery for creatives.

“The art programme has evolved significantly since inception and the participants […] present extraordinary and thoughtful works in a setting where they can inspire, inform and invite direct engagement with modern art and current social and cultural themes and ideas. It is a unique aspect of this festival, and we really endeavour to carry that spark into the community with adjacent school programmes and our on-site Coachella Arts Studios,” explains Paul Clemente, manager of the Coachella Art Program in an interview with Designboom.

At this year’s Coachella Festival, visitors will find works by artists and architects such as Kumkum Fernando, Vincent Leroy, Güvenç Özel and Maggie West.

A woman relaxing in a quiet area at the trade fair

Spaces for connecting and retreating, such as here at imm cologne, are also important for trade fairs. (Photo: imm cologne)

Trade fair meets Coachella

“In selecting projects from around the world, our intention is to bring together artists, architects and designers […]. We strive to create a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural programme that reflects our audience and the many performing artists that grace the stages of the festival. The resulting works will become icons – part of the identity of this year’s show. These installations act simultaneously as way-finding markers, points of congregation and, most importantly, accessible entry points for all show-goers to experience art,” explains Raffi Lehrer, the Coachella Festival’s curatorial advisor.

Trade fairs could also take something from this multi-dimensional approach. The key term here is “interactive elements”. It’s all a matter of small side stories and moments in which visitors encounter each other and, for a short moment, dive into new and unfamiliar worlds. Just as is the case at the Coachella Festival, where design and architecture meet music, the theme of such points of contact at the trade fair can be different to the theme of the trade fair itself. The focus should be on offering visitors a unique experience in which they break out of familiar surroundings and structures, and find common ground through dialogue.

More than just a trade fair

The example of the Coachella Festival shows very clearly that people in one creative field – which trade fairs can certainly be – will accept and appreciate such abstract opportunities for different and unexpected encounters. For trade fairs, there is potential to be far more than just an exhibition space. They can become meeting places where people gather to do great things together.

Somewhere you can meet lots of familiar faces from the interiors industry? imm Spring Edition from 4 to 7 June 2023 – register now !