Initially, the Furniture Show sounded like a grand day out. I’d take a leisurely stroll around the NEC, I thought, and pick up some pointers on the types of timber furniture that designers are putting their money on. A day after, the shoes are shot and the dodgy knee is throbbing.

The number of companies doing new and intriguing things with wood completely caught me on the hop. Of course, there were stacks of classic reproduction furniture. But there was also the new firm making maple and cherry coffee tables that sprouted electronically into a six-seat dining table and the former antique dealer displaying French oak farm house furniture distressed to within an inch of its life (using, it seemed, a bike chain and a shotgun). Another prod-ucer featured a pine cabinet that became a home office, a fourth an oak tester bed that took three craftsmen a month to carve.

Overall timber, and solid timber in particular, seemed to be in the ascendant. This was born out by John Cook of the show’s design consultant TrendHub. ‘There’s no doubt wood’s strong ecological story is increasingly attracting furniture makers, as is its versatility which suits it to current design trends, from baroque, to new geometric interpretations of classic styles,’ he said.

At the same time, the show highlighted the challenges any furniture trade supplier must contend with, like the industry’s moves toward e-trading, and the increasingly global nature of the business. The latter was highlighted by a Malaysian firm making British-designed furniture in North American hardwood which it exports to Europe and the US.

Changing the subject, this week TTJ welcomes aboard Keith Fryer, co-director of merchant T Brewer. He’ll be writing features, casting a merchant’s eye view over trade issues and providing a fresh pair of legs for next year’s Furniture Show.