Urban Expositions Acquires SOFA Chicago

July 1, 2013

Atlanta-based Urban Expositions recently bought Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design Fair (SOFA) Chicago, the largest and longest running art fair in the Windy City, from The Art Fair Company.

"We are thrilled to take ownership of an event that is so well known and respected by galleries, collectors, museum curators, artists, dealers and countless other members of the international art and design communities," says Doug Miller, president, Urban Expositions. 

Mark Lyman, SOFA Chicago founder and president of The Art Fair Company, will continue his involvement in a consulting capacity.

Donna Davies, the show’s long-time fair director, will join Urban Expositions and maintain her current position.

"With the expert guidance and invaluable industry insight of Mark Lyman, Donna Davies, Kate Jordan and the entire SOFA team, we will initiate a seamless transition process through to the 2013 fair that builds upon the event's solid foundation and impressive reputation by continuing to grow its exhibit, educational, and networking opportunities,” Miller said.

Urban Expositions plans to build out an art fair division in the company and SOFA Chicago is the first show as part of that strategy, according to company officials.

"Urban Expositions is the perfect management team to take over the ownership of SOFA," Lyman said.

He added, "Urban partners Doug Miller and Tim von Gal have built their own company through a hands-on management style and keen desire to truly understand and serve the specialized needs and business goals of their customers. When we began talking about the acquisition opportunity, they instantly understood that this fair's distinctive focus, unique educational programming and sense of community were the underlying keys to its longevity.”

The first SOFA Chicago was launched nearly 20 years ago at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers with 58 exhibitors and 14,000 visitors.

Now, the show has grown to 80 exhibitors and 34,000 attendees. The next edition of the show will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Navy Pier Festival Hall and will include glass, ceramics, textiles, wood and metal artwork, as well as presentations by artists, collectors, curators, critics and designers.

Urban Expositions has been busy acquiring gift shows in the past few years as well, with the most recent purchase being the California Gift Show from Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. in June 2012.

In 2011, the company also bought the Portland Gift Show and West Coast Cash & Carry Shows from Western Exhibitors, the San Francisco International Gift Fair and Seattle Gift Show from dmg world media in 2009 and launched the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show in 2007.

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