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Posted: 19.03.24

MIPIM remains a strange beast – David Taylor

Part jamboree, part exposition, and in effect an excuse to jump-start the Spring and instil a sense of optimism in us Brits.

But it is also, of course, an effective way to demonstrate the investible characteristics of a place, seemingly anywhere in the world, to some 20,000 delegates – even if some of the copywriting and stands design varies wildly in its, well, ‘vibrancy’.

This year’s show – dubbing itself ‘The Global Urban Festival’ now, no less – had a broadly upbeat air, aided by warm sunshine and perhaps a palpable sense of relief to be in a reassuring bubble away from it all back home. Also, possibly, that most sectors are near the bottom, so the only way is up. When it came to the stands and pavilions, there was a distinct if not always more than surface signal to green credentials to many, with wooden blocks to sit on and shrubbery climbing up the video walls very much to the fore.

But while there were some with high-tech wizardry – notably demonstrating how far along the 170km long NEOM already is – others such as Stockholm went for the determinedly low-fi approach, marking their appearance with a stand made of waste materials. ‘What others thought was waste we used to build our booth’, it shouted to all and sundry on the Palais des Festivals front façade. The stand itself – or ‘waste gallery’ made from the cast-offs of others – was a commendable example of circularity to others, pointing out that the average trade show generates more than 100 tonnes of waste. ‘We need to change that’, it declared. ‘There is much talk about sustainability, but not enough action’. Quite.

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While this call to action is commendable and well-timed, it's easy to laugh at some of the other copy-lines translated into English across the MIPIM world in a bid that they sound cool and enticing.

So that is what we shall do.

‘Feel Good, Feel Nhood’ shouted one sign as you descended a level in the Palais des Festivals, or ‘bunker’ as the part-time car park is colloquially known. Turns out this is a ‘real estate solutions company for neighbourhood’. Oh, I see! N’hood!

No, me neither.

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Sartorially this year, the Euro-uniform of the gilet under the jacket and the chill-abating scarf as evening approaches was de rigeur for many of the men in the 20,000-delegate throng. And for both genders, 2024 has fully signalled that it is absolutely okay to wear trainers with your outfit, even if some of the box-fresh white pumps were a dead giveaway that no sport has passed their particular feet.

And so that was that for this year’s show. Much talk was of net zero, of making a difference, and of development getting its house in order. But by the same token, there were also those cheesy translated copylines, and reams of statistics about why you should invest here rather than there, all clamouring for growth money to make their city or country more alluring, liveable, sustainable, and, yes, ‘vibrant’.

Or, for that matter, just big.

Roll on, MIPIM 2025.

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David Taylor,
Editor of NLQ, Velocity, New London Weekly.

Read the 2023 MIPIM review here.