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imm cologne 2012: Lifestyle labels from Italy head the list of international exhibitor groups

(Foto: Kartell)
The renewed focus of leading Italian lifestyle brands such as Kartell on Europe's large furnishing trade show sends a clear signal and is resulting in more and more Italian brand names returning to Cologne. (Photo: Kartell)

Italian design is at home in Cologne. From 16 to 22 January 2012 the designer nation’s furniture and interior design culture will once again be out in full strength at imm cologne under the flag of Italy’s leading lifestyle brands. With still half a year to go before the trade show, appearances by 60 Italian exhibitors, including top brands B&B Italia, Cierre, Desalto, Driade, Living Divani and Kartell, are already certain. They will present their ranges and innovation in the “pure” design segment.

Kartell’s repeat showing at imm cologne after last year, says Managing Director Dr. Claudio Luti, is mainly due to the location’s economic importance: “From an historical viewpoint, Germany has always been a key overseas market for Kartell. The presence at the trade show and the opening of six flagship stores in recent years are a sign of our commitment in striking deep roots in German soil and on the German market. In fact, Germany is not just a primary market for Kartell, but also its principal gateway to the nations of Eastern Europe. We believe that it’s crucial to appear in Germany at reputable trade shows such as imm cologne.”

Hall 11 “pure” already almost completely booked out
Partly as a result of the early bookings by many Italian exhibitors, the three levels of Hall 11 are already completely booked out, apart from a few small spaces, even at this early date. It is here that the new design trends from Poliform, La Palma, Marac, Riva, Sicis, Skitch, Tonon and Zeus Noto, among others, will be revealed and interpreted. Porro will again present itself in 2012 alongside fine-sounding names such as designer legend Piero Lissoni, who as art director will be showcasing the objects and systems in his furnishing collection, and renowned designers such as Christophe Pillet, Werner Aisslinger, Front Design, Jean-Marie Massaud, Giorgio Cazzaniga, Wolfgang Tholk and Decoma Design.

Italy thus looks likely to make up the strongest foreign faction at the year’s first trade show highlight for the industry, followed by Denmark and the Netherlands. “Our talks with the exhibitors and their satisfaction with last year’s trade show performance signal that the reserve expressed by the Italians was only temporary and has now definitely passed,” says Gerald Böse, Chairman of the Koelnmesse Executive Board.

Italian design brands increasingly shift their focus to the German market
The export data published by the Federal Office of Statistics support this view: in 2010 Italy exported 14.5 per cent of total furniture production to France, 10.4 per cent to the UK, 10.3 per cent to Germany and 9.3 per cent to Russia. In the other direction, Italy imported 21.9 per cent of its furniture from China and 13.6 per cent from Germany. These figures alone show how important their mutual markets are for these two big furnishing nations. In addition, Germany is Italy’s most important supplier of ancillary products and machinery in the furniture sector, making it Italy’s most important sales market next to France and the UK. A glance at export statistics over the last 15 years clearly reveals the significance of the large German market (see historical chart).

(Source: German Federal Statistical Office and VDM)
(Source: German Federal Statistical Office and VDM)

The slump seen in recent years, meanwhile, is down to a number of factors. Firstly, prices on the furniture market have also led to a polarization in Germany, giving cheaper Asian furniture, Chinese first among them, increasingly better sales opportunities. Secondly, many Italian furniture producers have focused on emerging markets in recent years, and as a result have somewhat lost sight of the German market.

imm cologne 2011 represented a turning point in this trend, which has been reaffirmed by booking figures for imm cologne 2012. Last year’s good performance on the German market played a pivotal role in this. Large brands have also recognised the importance of a continuous presence and proximity to German sales agents in maintaining or even expanding market share. The renewed focus of leading Italian lifestyle brands such as Kartell on Europe’s large furnishing trade show sends a clear signal and is resulting in more and more Italian brand names returning to Cologne.