Highlights from IMM Cologne
by Harry / January 17, 2007

One of the world's largest furniture shows, the IMM Cologne Furniture Fair, is now well under way in Germany (it opened on Monday and ends on the 21st). Manufacturers and buyers from all over the world have converged in Cologne to show and tell their latest designs. We'll be showing you some highlights from the show over the next few days.

And, in preparation for the show, the German Furniture Industry Association (VDM) conducted a survey of manufacturers and exhibitors to identify this year's trend-setting developments and tendencies. Here's a synopsis of that report (more after the jump).

"A clear feature in all product ranges is a departure away from cheap, low-cost, mass-produced goods towards a focus on the outer and inner values of a piece of furniture. Aesthetics is once again right at the top of the list of priorities. In this connection, requirements are focused on a new luxury, which is not characterized by prestige, status or a fat purse or wallet, but by quality and design. What used to be critically described as "consumer based" is today also characterized by good, attractive, appealing design.

In this context, individual furniture items have the most diverse functions and applications. High-Tech, for example in the form of flat-screens in media furniture, is now being countered by a trend towards romantic elements in the forthcoming furniture season. In terms of style and design many furniture manufacturers are playing around with the "Sixties Feeling". Here, inspired by shape, design and colours, we find furniture in round, organic designs and floral or abstract patterns, as many of us can also still recall due to the increasingly popular wallpapers from that period. Such furniture supports people's needs to recapture the lifestyle of that period.

The future Homelife is simply also characterized by a longing for romantic elements. A little touch of nostalgia is certainly allowed in the emotionally-loaded home furnishings environment, because people want to have a lot of space for feelings in their own homes.

Home furnishings and furniture are increasingly becoming an expression of social status. Based on a current survey conducted by the Allensbach Demoscopic Institute, home furnishings and furniture rank third right behind friends and leisure time in the realization of people's very personal wishes. They are then followed by the generally visible possessions such as cars, clothing and jewellery.

MULTI-FUNCTIONALITY FURTHER EXTENDED
As the focal point of the furniture ranges at imm cologne 2007 the respondents generally stated the increase in multi-functional furniture. This evolution in the product range is not a new theme, but confirms the customers' desire for multi-purpose and flexible furniture. People also want to enjoy freedom of design for their furniture, a trend which is being underlined with tilting, folding, turning and swivelling features.

THE FAVOURITE WOODS
The range of dark words will increase. Walnut - light or dark - will further extend its position. As far as beds or cupboards are concerned, it is also a popular combination in chrome or aluminium-coloured applications. Dark oak is very exquisite and conveys a very expressive impression. We can also assume a further increase in the use of tropical woods. Here for example Zebrano, Palisander, Teak or Wengé.

The most important woods in the home furniture and furnishings sector are beech, also red-core beech, ash, alder, birch. The colour spectrum of these woods extends from bright shades via beige and red tones up to a moderate brown shade. In contrast, yew, spruce and pine only play a role in the solid wood area. They are mostly only oiled or waxed.

The share of domestic fruit woods will also increase, in particular, cherry with its delicate, reddish patterns. We will however also see apple wood, pear and plum wood. Be it as interesting, attractive inlays or exciting solid wood furniture: fruit wood is coming.

CUPBOARD, SHELF, TABLE AND CHAIR
For years solid wood furniture has been consolidating its position, and in some cases due to its ecological qualities and unique surface, has been able to further extend its share of the high-quality sector. Veneers are also playing an important role in the high-quality sector. In the flat-pack area today top-quality furniture is also available. Wood in combination with glass, metal or high-quality synthetics is resulting in exquisite combinations and compositions.

In addition to oils, waxes, stains and glazes, lacquers are also very popular in surface design. The high-gloss share will increase here once again. It represents top-quality and elegance. As far as colours are concerned, there is a clear trend towards more colourful shades.

UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE
In addition to the round forms of the 1960s, the style and design of upholstered furniture will remain modern. Voluminous specifications continue to be in demand. The living-room furniture set also repeatedly includes refined, sophisticated features such as stools, guest beds or clever, concealed compartments for remote-control handsets and books.

The cover fabrics are in wool, wool felt, linen, cotton and flax. In the synthetic fibres sector, micro-fibres have passed their peak. The new trend is metal-coloured optics in silver and gold. Overall, an increasing number of woven or knitted fibres with a texture-like surface are finding their way onto the market. Large-surface patterns - often produced using exquisite hair such as Alpaka, Angora, Kashmir or camel hair - have an authentic character and are extremely warm to the touch. Leather will also defend its status. Here particular easy-care qualities are in demand.

MANY COLOURS AND PATTERNS
As far as cover fabrics are concerned, in the coming furniture season, we can expect bold, loud colours. Aubergine or lilac are the season's trend colours. But blue is also asserting itself in all variations. Floral patterns, stripes, checks and the entire spectrum of the natural shades will be on display. The classic "black-white" will once again play a role in 2007.

FURNITURE SAFARI 2007
The future researchers are in agreement: the awareness for Homelife will continue to increase. Thanks to their curiosity, the furniture manufacturers will provide good product ranges with increasingly sophisticated and refined innovations. New furniture in good design impresses through its own features and arouses the consumers' desire to purchase. For an increasing number of people design is becoming the decisive difference between love and antipathy. People associate not only a good meal or a nice holiday with the quality of life, but also their own home, which they have lovingly and affectionately designed and furnished."

Source: Association of the German Furniture Industry / Verband der Deutschen Möbelindustrie (VDM), Bad Honnef.


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