What wood varieties are currently in vogue? Any what about the latest ideas in seating? What type of functions do manufacturers install in the latest generation of kitchen, living room and bedroom cupboards? Anyone seeking answers to such questions will head for interzum, the world’s leading trade fair for supplies, materials and components for the furniture and building interior completion industries. They may also very well make a beeline for the International Furniture Fair imm cologne. Even better, both.
“These two fairs have a number of interesting and complementary crossover features,” says Udo Traeger, Vice President Furniture, Interior Design and Textiles of Koelnmesse. “For example, the visitor to interzum will come across some item of detail or a system, which a short time later will turn up at the imm cologne fully integrated within a finished product.
Quite a few of the prototypes first seen on show at interzum have later transpired to be the key to a new departure in some aspect of furniture function or design.” At the same time, the imm cologne has long since arrived as a trend forum and dynamic communications platform between manufacturers, retailers and designers; this has a knock-on effect in stimulating inventiveness at the supplier level. The furniture fair satisfies a multitude of aesthetic and practical needs, providing both form and perspective.
Continuous creative loop
Together, interzum and the imm cologne represent a continuous creative loop. Designers, architects, planners and craftsmen leave interzum with a host of new ideas for furniture design, contract furniture and interior completion. Product developers, designers and engineers follow trends at the Cologne furniture fair; they make contact with exhibitors and the public, who will rapidly identify any requirement for further innovation.
This relationship is reflected by the fact that at the supplier level, design is now an increasingly important criterion. In addition, convenient operation and the use of innovative materials enable furniture manufacturers to achieve a significant level of product differentiation. These are the features created by hardware and surface material manufacturers.
Awards for excellence in design
If there is one crossover feature between interzum and imm cologne more important than the rest, it is probably design. It is the underlying driving force behind supplier industry innovation and the creative trigger for furniture manufacturers, re-inventing itself every year. This is the very good reason why for many years such importance has been placed on the presentation of good design at the Cologne Fair, where it has been given its own platform in the shape of special awards, presentations, lectures and exhibitions.
The topic of excellence in design has long been recognised at the furniture fair; and there has been an exact parallel at the interzum: the interzum award:intelligent materials & design. This international contest is open to manufacturers of hardware, surface materials, wood-based and natural materials, upholstery materials and machinery; companies who demonstrate how their skills and innovative abilities result in superb design, new materials and optimum function.
It is self-evident that design is the core discipline for creators and manufacturers of furniture, associated hardware and interior fittings. And yet it is by no means an easy matter to take design seriously as a market factor, by simply employing it within a professional and fast-moving scenario, such as is found within the framework of a trade fair. Nevertheless, this is the objective that has been set and met by the Cologne Fair.
The piazzas and forums, the supporting forums for architects, interior designers, the contract furnishing industry, design awards and the d3 forum for up-and-coming young professionals, have all combined to make the Cologne Fair the nodal communication point for both established and experimental design. The Cologne Trend Board – an international group of leading architects, designers and interior designers – meets each year to analyse interior trends for the coming season, and is a good example of the professional skills concentrated in Cologne.
Cologne brings together the entire know-how required in two closely interrelated, leading trade fairs, within an optimised framework: interzum and imm cologne. “But Cologne’s contacts with the international furniture industry go much further: interzum moscow/Interkomplekt; interzum guangzhou; Orgatec; spoga; Kind + Jugend“, so Vice President Udo Traeger. “Together, these form a powerful package. Overall, the Cologne Fair has 740,000 sm floorspace for furniture and furnishings, representing a wide range of different sectors!”
So far, almost 5,200 exhibitors have made use of these trade shows, providing a direct benefit to some 376,000 visitors from around the world. Any professional whose job involves furnishing, fittings or interior completion, needs the Cologne Fair.