Turning old into new:
seat covers made from recycled drinks bottles

© Brunner
© Brunner

Polyethylene terephthalate or PET for short. It is the material used to make drinks bottles. Consumers in Germany can return these bottles to supermarkets after use and collect the refundable deposit. But what happens to the no-longer-needed, crushed bottles? Some of them are made into bottles again, others into T-shirts or fleeces. And some of them are made into seat covers. Brunner uses a cover fabric made from 100% recycled polyester for many of its products.

imm cologne “prime”: more space dedicated to top-quality living-room and bedroom furniture

(Photo: smowblog)
Koelnmesse is reporting an extremely strong demand from exhibitors for space in the imm cologne‘s prime segment. In contrast to the 2011 event, it won’t just be halls 4.1, 5.1 and 10.1 that are dedicated to top-quality living room and bedroom furniture, mainly from the high-end segment; in 2012, Hall 5.2 will be reserved for this prime-quality furniture as well. Whether they’re looking for a modern interior, tables and chairs or dining room furniture – visitors to the prime segment will go home with a comprehensive overview of what the international market has to offer. They can also look forward to some groundbreaking world firsts in terms of multifunctionality and technology. Some exhibitors – including a great many who will be taking part in the imm cologne for the first time – are revealing a few of their trump cards in the run-up to the fair.

Alu-Style is one of the new providers who will be joining the furniture fair for the first time; accordingly, the Hungarians are coming to Cologne with high expectations. Up until now, Alu-Style has been better known as a player from the supplier industry and has been attending the furniture for many years as a visitor. Now the company wants to establish itself in the international furniture industry with its tried and tested systems for sliding doors, shelving, tables and walls. The company’s trade fair presentation will focus on its sliding doors – including the new “Albatros” line. Alu-Style cites flexibility as the crucial trend of the future: the declared basis of all Alu-Style’s products.

Walter Knoll’s secret of success: Looking with designers for something that has never been done before

MYchair; Design: Ben van Berkel; Foto: Walter KnollWalter Knoll (exhibitor at imm cologne 2010, 19.-24.01.2010), one of Germany’s oldest manufacturers of upholstered furniture, cultivates a close partnership with designers and architects – an approach that is key to the company’s success. “New products evolve out of thorough communication, immersing yourself in processes and clarifying ideas. We seek out gaps together, looking for the right opening for something that has never been done before,” says CEO Markus Benz.

Benz, head of the Herrenberg-based company since 1993, sets great store by communication. It is a recurring theme that is also reflected in the company’s products. Take the Ameo lounge chairs by Austrian design team EOOS, for instance: they are ideal for relaxing with friends and putting the world to rights. The island-like swivel chairs can be turned to face one another for a conversation or away from the crowd for a moment of reflection, open to new perspectives. Or Living Landscape – another EOOS design. The sides and back turn with the seat and change their position.

Dirk-Uwe Klaas, Association of the German Furniture Industry, on consumers’ changing mentality

1furniture_exportThe average German only replaces his sofa with a new one every 8-12 years. Don’t you sometimes wish there was a scrapping incentive for furniture too?
We in the furniture industry aren’t calling for subsidies – we just want equal treatment for all sectors. Instead of getting people to scrap their cars, the politicians ought to be scrapping taxes for normal citizens and SMEs so they’ve got more money left in their pockets and budgets at the end of the month – money they can use however they see fit.

The imm cologne’s Trendboard is anticipating a return to more quality consciousness as a response to the economic crisis. Is “real” quality actually still affordable these days?
We’re living in a time when people are refraining from quick consumption again so yes, you could say people have started to change their mentality. They’re becoming more sensitive to how we use the world’s resources and looking for things that promise value and durability again. That’s why there’s an increasing demand for sustainability and value in our industry too. For earlier generations it was normal not to follow every furniture or clothing fashion or go along with every new style that came out. Then there was a period of rapid and changing consumption. The pleasure was often short-lived and the products interchangeable.

Konstantin Grcic: ”I even think certain rules have to be laid down. That’s the only way things are going to change.”

konstantin_grcicKonstantin Grcic (*1965) trained as a cabinetmaker at the John Makepeace School for Craftsmen in Dorset (1985 to 1987) before studying furniture design at the Royal College of Art in London.

After a year as an assistant to Jasper Morrison, he founded his own firm in Munich in 1991: “Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design”. The 90s saw the start of his success with laundry baskets and other plastic items for Authentics; then came style icons such as the Mayday lamp for Flos (1999), the swaying shelving unit Es for Nils Holger Moormann (1999), the Chaos armchair for ClassiCon (2001) and the Osorom seating element for Moroso (2002). The chair_ONE die-cast aluminium chair with a conical concrete foot (Magis, 2004) was actually intended for public spaces but went on to sell in its thousands as a sculptural lattice structure with seating function for the private loft. It was followed by the Miura bar stool (Plank, 2005).

Oliver Holy on this year’s furniture trends: “Quiet quality instead of loud luxury.”

oliver_holy1What are the key trends influencing furniture design this year? We asked designers, manufacturers, retailers and journalists for their assessments and observations.

Oliver Holy, CEO ClassiCon, München:
At the fair I regularly came across the new term “Homing”. Even if I’m reluctant to label any change in public desires right away I do understand what this one tries to register. I, too, believe that the uncertainty caused by the current economic and ecologic developments evokes a desire for concentrating on basics. With regard to interiors and materials this means to me that furniture which is natural, “grounded” and can even develop patina is favored and that loud and flashy styles become replaced by haptically pleasant forms and materials. I see this confirmed by the enthusiasm with which Sergio Rodrigues collection has been received.

Olaf Schroeder, ID_OS: “I doubt whether our society will shift back to less mass production.”

growing_tableID_OS is a development company for industrial and public design based in Frankfurt am Main. Since 1996, proprietor Olaf Schroeder (*1966) has been developing design concepts and solutions in the fields of product, furniture, system and exhibition design, as well as design projects for public spaces.

Besides the household products he has worked on for manufacturers Hailo, Leifheit and Rowenta, Olaf Schroeder has also developed and designed exhibitions and pavilion architectures. In 2003, Olaf Schroeder was awarded the state of Hesse’s special environmental award for his development work in connection with a solar-powered boat project. From 1998 until 2002, he was a lecturer at Offenbach University of Art and Design.

Interview with Harald Gründl (EOOS): “We’re on the threshold of a paradigm shift.”

EOOS: Gernot Bohmann, Harald Gründl (Mitte) und Martin Bergman. Foto: Udo Titz
EOOS: Gernot Bohmann, Harald Gründl (Mitte) and Martin Bergman. Photo: Udo Titz

EOOS consists of Martin Bergmann (*1963 in Lienz/East Tyrol), Gernot Bohmann (*1968, Krieglach/Steiermark) and Harald Gründl (*1967, Vienna). After graduating from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, they founded their joint firm EOOS in 1995. Besides furniture and product design, EOOS also does shop design for clients like Giorgio Armani, Adidas, Alessi, Bulthaup, Bene, Duravit, Walter Knoll, Keilhauer, Matteograssi and Zumtobel.

For EOOS, design is a poetic discipline and a cultural service to society. EOOS Basic Research investigates rituals, myths and intuitive images as part of its “poetic analysis”. The company’s first books, “The Death of Fashion” and ”The Cooked Kitchen”, are available from publishers SpringerWienNewYork. EOOS has won more than 40 international awards to date, including the 2004 Italian design prize Compasso d’Oro for Kube, produced by Matteograssi. In 2007, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF and daily newspaper Die Presse voted EOOS ”Austrians of the Year“ in the Creative Industries category.

Green Design: The designer’s ecological footprint

The print our feet leave on our planet should be as light as possible – that is the aim of Green Design. Product designers are no longer content with making a purely aesthetic mark. Instead, with unconventional ideas and sustainable product concepts, they are committed to making our lifestyle more compatible with the environment.

Green Design is the dream of “good” design, of things that don’t hurt anybody – not nature, who the material is taken from and is left to deal with the remains, not the planet, who the energy is extracted from and whose atmosphere it is emitted into, nor the people who make or use the object.

Sustainability and healthy living included: solid wood furniture at imm solid

Ever since the awkward eco-fashion designer Miguel Adrover became the latest worldwide craze and insider tip and designed the autumn collection 2008 for the conventional German natural fashion mail-order company Hessnatur, it has been clear: Sustainability has developed into a boundless mega trend.

This is a fact that Vereinigte Möbeleinkaufs-GmbH & Co. KG is well aware of. With its new line “Woods & Trends” based on solid wood furniture, the industry player from Bielefeld is reacting to the fact that more and more consumers want ecologically manufactured lifestyle products. And these are already plentiful in the furnishings world – unlike in other industries. They can be seen at imm cologne from 19 to 25 January 2009.