Despite dour sales figures and industry nay-sayers predicting a grim outlook for 2009, the mood at designEX this morning was positive and upbeat.

Exhibitors predicted record numbers of visitors and many said they were experiencing “pockets” of immunity within their businesses.

Belinda Sheldrick, national sales and marketing manager for retail systems interiors firm Mei + Picchi, told Architecture & Design that she expects an influx of visitors to the stand. “The recession means that people have more time to come to events and explore new options in design.” The company is launching a new retail display product at the exhibition this morning.

Many of the seminars are sold out, including Bjarke Ingels’ ‘Yes is more’ theory of architectural evolution seminar this morning - if you didn’t get a ticket, you can read our interview with the BIG Architects’ man from here.

Jamie Durie launched The Electrolux Outdoor Room and spoke about the increasing importance of outdoor space in design. Durie told Architecture & Design that public space should be embraced by society and that there was an increasing public interest in landscape design.

The Small is Smart House, featured in Architecture & Design on 7 April, officially launched at the event today. Made from recycled shipping containers, the fully fitted and furnished one-bedroom SMALLisSMART house can be built for under $50,000 and is intended to provide a home for those in need. Interior architects Fulton & Salomon said that the firm was recruiting for sales reps and hoped to successfully market the product to charity organisations, universities, and low-income housing developments.

Architecture & Design will be reporting live from designEX and Parallax, the Australian Institute of Architects’ national conference today and tomorrow.