Mark your calendars! The first Polish edition of ARCHITECT@WORK will take place on November 15 and 16, 2022 at Expo XXI Warsaw. In a conversation with Hannelore Caenepeel, the ARCHITECT@WORK manager, we are asking what the visitors should expect from this international event for specialists in the architecture and design industry.


Marcin Szczelina: There are many fairs and events for architects in Europe. What distinguishes ARCHITECT@WORK from the crowd?

Hannelore Caenepeel: ARCHITECT@WORK is so much more than architecture or design fair or even a conference for that matter. Such events, in any European country, are usually major presentations of projects and products, which are addressed not only to architects, but also to developers, contractors, and end users – in a word, to everyone. On the other hand, we also have traditional interior fairs meant to attract designers, but also anyone who wants to rearrange an apartment or buy a new sofa. Fifteen years ago, we noticed that neither architects nor interior designers feel comfortable in such environments. So we wanted to create one event where both these professional groups could feel like they are in the right place. We present only the content selected by our curators – each product that you see at ARCHITECT@WORK has been approved by a jury of architects and interior designers from the city where the event takes place. The reason behind it is the fact that every country has different laws or trends and we want to be at the heart of the community for which we are creating this event. Local specialists know local brands, they know what already exists on the market. We want to present new products and extract the best ones in terms of innovation. We are also distinguished from traditional fairs by the fact that only architects, interior designers, and other specialists who play a key role in the industry can participate in the event. If you just want to remodel a room or have a bathroom makeover, this event is not for you. We make a safe and stimulating space for the industry so that you can learn about cutting-edge ideas.

Your event takes place in many different European cities. It will be held in Warsaw for the first time in November. From your perspective what is special about the Polish capital?

Warsaw is a hot spot. The city is booming, not only in terms of architecture. Construction is going on everywhere and. our exhibitors specifically asked for a Warsaw edition. So, apart from the city’s development itself, there was also a strong demand from our clients. Our community sincerely believes that this is the perfect time for ARCHITECT@WORK to be taking place in Poland.

The event is not only a series of product presentations but also has a strong education pillar made of seminars and debates around a leading theme. This year it somehow imposes itself to be a discussion about the climate catastrophe and how architecture affects it.

Climate catastrophe is of course an important topic and we will definitely be talking about it, but we wanted the theme to be a bit broader. We decided to put it under the umbrella of “oxygen”. Oxygen is related to the climate issue, but it is also about the need for good air in a building. There are many different angles to go around this theme. Also from a material perspective – like lightweight concrete, which has a lot more air in it and is less harmful to the environment. In addition to the innovations that will be presented by the exhibitors, these are some of the more philosophical topics that we want to raise at ARCHITECT@WORK in Warsaw.


You are also preparing an entire section dedicated to the materials of the future. Could you share what is there to expect in this part of the program?

British organization Material Driven, which deals with the research for new solutions and trends in materials, is the curator of this section. They have offices in New York and are expanding worldwide. They know everything about the latest materials and the entire program they proposed will be dealing with the topics around the idea of oxygen. So there will be new materials that are transparent or very light, as well as materials that are responsive to light and other circumstances in which they are functioning. Often these are materials that have not yet been transformed into any architectural product, but they provide a glimpse into the future and what they may become. So you can say there will be a lot of sensory impact and inspiration.

Architecture, interior design, and materials. In previous editions, you also invited photographers to be a part of the discussion. Why is such a broad perspective a good way to talk about architecture?

I think that the development of the ARCHITECT@WORK brand shows that we have chosen the right approach. Fifteen years ago we started in Belgium and are now active in twenty-eight cities in fifteen countries. Our formula evidently appeals to contemporary architects. We want to create a safe space for networking. An event where instead of focussing on the commercial treats of the products there will be a strong focus on inspiration, but also through the general atmosphere. The space of ARCHITECT@WORK is a trendy and lounge-like, comfortable setting. We provide, for example, free catering so that people do not have to worry about anything. They can eat or drink something and chat with their friends and co-workers.

The event was supposed to take place a year ago but was postponed due to the pandemic. What concerns you, if anything, about the current circumstances?

I wouldn’t say that I have concerns, I am rather excited. The moment you start to work in a new country is always very inspiring, we’ve done it many times. From the commercial point of view, the event has already exceeded our expectations – we have expanded the space to the maximum capacity because we still receive applications from potential exhibitors. We see this as a sign that the Polish market is ready for ARCHITECT@WORK. We are not an initiative that wants to attract thousands of people – we aim at quality rather than quantity. This is also a big difference compared to traditional fairs. How it works from the visitors’ point of view remains to be seen, but our exhibitors are optimistic and prepared that I am sure it will be fine. We have high expectations, a lot of excitement and we are looking forward to it.

How has the pandemic influenced the way such events like yours are being organized?

Since 2020, we have made eleven editions of ARCHITECT@WORK. In locations where we have been operating for some time, we are adding online sections. The pandemic has taught us, however, that people want to get back to face-to-face interactions because they are fed up with looking at screens. For us at ARCHITECT@WORK, the physical aspect of the meeting with another person was always very important, because if the architects do not see, touch or experience the product in real life, they will not use it in their practice. In this context, I think trade fairs and physical events definitely have a bright future ahead of them.


Participation in ARCHITECT @ WORK for professionals in the architectural and design industry is free. Especially for Architecture Snob readers, we have free exclusive invitations.