the mediterranean port city of valencia played host to its annual furniture, lighting, and décor and accessories fair, September 19 to 24. Spain's third-largest city, Valencia is a charming blend of historic and modern styles. It is the birthplace of the rice and seafood dish paella. It is also the home of architect Santiago Calatrava, who has completed a significant number of projects in the city, from bridges to metro stations to the four buildings-the Palace of Arts, the Hemisphere, the Museum of Science, and the Umbracle-that, along with architect Felix Candela's aquarium, create an art and science complex referred to as La Ciutat, the city, which represents the 'new Valencia.' In 2007, Valencia will host the America's Cup sailing race, further solidifying its role as an international city.

A region that has traditionally been home to an industrial base, it is no surprise that the Valencia fair is a showcase for both traditional and contemporary Spanish design that attracts a global audience. The state-of-the-art eight-hall La Ciutat facility, with over 1.6 million square feet, is certainly competitive in terms of services with other European fair venues like Milan and Frankfurt, although smaller in overall size.

A diverse array of lighting was exhibited at the fair, primarily decorative in focus. With one two-story hall dedicated to lighting-a floor for traditional and a floor for contemporary-the trick was not to miss the manufacturers that have both lighting and furniture lines who chose to exhibit the two together in the furniture halls.

Some of the manufacturers exhibiting, of interest to a North American audience, were the prominent traditional decorative lighting company Mariner, founded in 1893. Known for its elaborate chandeliers, wall sconces, and pendants, the company also specializes in custom pieces for the hospitality industry. Martinez y Orts was also in attendance. Known for its line of decorative lighting fixtures, the company celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. In terms of more contemporary design, companies like Vibia, Luzifer, and Modiss debuted a full range of new products.

The Spanish Federation of Manufacturers and Exports of Decorative Lighting (FEDAI DEC) is the representative of 100 associated member companies, and is actively working to establish new markets outside of Spain and Europe for Spanish lighting manufacturers. This effort includes a pavilion at the Valencia fair, and stands at other international venues such as Euroluce, Light + Building, and Lightfair. ed

In a continued effort to stay competitive in the global arena, next year the three fairs-furniture, lighting and décor and accessories-will be renamed 'Habitat Valencia Forward.' Reorganizing the fair under one theme-'home'-will allow exhibitors more opportunities to showcase their products, and attendees will benefit with access to the latest design trends. For more information about the Valencia fair visit,