Posts Tagged ‘imm’

(smow)blog review 2010: January, February, March

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

While critics denounce such as an easy and obvious way to generate content – for us reviewing the past year is an important step in planning our activities for the coming year: where to go, who to talk to, what to sit on and, just as importantly, what to ignore or give up.

The only real problem for us is that in preparing such we realise just how much material we haven’t had the chance to use – and so receive an impression of how much more material we will acquire in the coming year.

Heck!

Reading Table by Uli Budde @ Designers Fair 2010 Cologne

Reading Table by Uli Budde @ Designers Fair 2010 Cologne

The year started, as ever, with IMM and Designers Fair in Cologne. Aside from the opportunity to roll out a few anti-carnival gags the trip introduced us to some wonderful new products/designers, specifically; Uli Budde, Christian Lessing, Martin Neuhaus, Alexander Gufler, maigrau, Tim Baute etc, etc, etc…

A further highlight was the introduction of Herbert Hirche’s Interbau 57 armchair through Richard Lampert.

Negative was the lack of innovation and – if we’re honest – quality on display at IMM. For Germany’s most important furniture trade fair it just simply wasn’t good enough.

Let’s see what IMM 2011 brings.

In February we were then on much safer ground with the opening of the VitraHaus on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein and a visit to the MoormannHaus in Aschau in Chiemgau.

Moormann Haus, Aschau in Chiemgau

Moormann Haus, Aschau in Chiemgau

Aside from the way the VitraHaus majestically appears before you, for us the real joy is the decision to include “non-Vitra” items in the displays – very much in the spirit of Charles and Ray Eames‘ “Collage” principle of interior design.

If we did have one wish for 2011 it would be that rather than only including established designers, that Vitra include one or the other design from a young designer or two in the VitraHaus exhibition space.

VitraHaus is big enough to give young talent a chance.

While the MoormannHaus is every bit as spectacular a piece of architecture as Vitra’s, the real highlight of the trip to Aschau was Berge - the Moormann auberge

Much more than a delightful base for a trip to the Bavarian Alps – Berge is much more a wonderful introduction to the Moormann philosophy.

In March (smow)airport systems premiered their range of USM Haller based airport solutions at the Passenger Terminal Expo 2010 in Brussels. Created in cooperation with USM Haller , (smow) airport systems have developed a range of solutions for both operative, Lounge and Retail areas of airports – solutions that were very well received by the PTE visitors.

The company name and structure may have changed since PTE 2010 but we will be at PTE 2011 in Copenhagen to both follow the development of the project as well as to report on other developments in airport / public area furniture world.

Full house in teh smowroom for teh Leipzig Buchmesse readings

Full house in the (smow)room for the Leipzig Buchmesse readings

Back in Leipzig March is Buchmesse and March 2010 saw the most successful series of readings ever in the (smow)room in Burgplatz.

Ever!

Starting with Grillsaison from Philipp Kohlhöfer and then moving on over “New voices from Switzerland” to “Meine Frau will einen Garten” by Gerhard Matzig the three readings provided three very different if equally enjoyable experiences.

More so in 2011 !

IMM Cologne: A review

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
IMM Cologne 2010

IMM Cologne 2010

Fear not, we’ve still got a duffel bag full of products and stories from our week in Cologne to bring you.

However we feel it only right to quickly review the 2010 IMM Cologne.

Elsewhere we’ve read that there were no trends to be found at IMM.

Which for us is positive.

Trends have no place in the furniture business.

Trends imply that the role of furniture is to meet some pre-ordained assumption on the part of the consumer as to what their furniture should look like, how it should behave and how it should interact with the world around it.

Such trends generally start from some self-appointed “trend expert” and are then taken over wholesale by marketing departments and lazy journalists.

And is why the product range in some halls was so appalling, and is also one of the reasons why furniture sales are slumping.

214 from Thonet - Innovative Germa design that would not have been exhibited at IMM

214 from Thonet - Innovative German design ... but would it have been exhibited at IMM 1859?

Offer a consumer a choice between 1000 products that fit to a “trend” and you breed lethargy in the consumers – all they see is the same products, being sold with the same pitches… And while a few will fall for the silky sales lines and the promise of a better social image; the majority will realise they are being force fed over-priced tat. And not bite

However, offer the customer something that doesn’t fit any universal plan, but which through its form, functionality and design makes their life easier or simply more enjoyable – and more importantly let the customer decide what the product means to them and how it fits into their world – then you motivate the customer.

And for our money the work of the “trend experts” could be seen on many of the stands and heard in the senseless, contextless use of words like “organic” or “wellness” flowing like honey from the mouths of the sales professionals employed to drive home the message.

The resulting “sameness” in some halls was genuinely shocking.

As was the cheek of some producers.

Despite the IMM organisers assertions that there would be no copies on display in Cologne; there were an awful lot of products where you had to question if the company involved honestly wasn’t aware of obscure designs such as the Barcelona Chair or the Ant Chair.
We know, not everyone can have our encyclopedic knowledge of deign history; but to invite companies to take part who offer on their websites products that are clearly derived from patent protected designs is cheeky.
And does the students in Hall 3.1 a huge disservice as it underpins the quite acceptance in the furniture trade that while creativity is good… copying is cheaper and better for the profit margins.

Students, more than just decoration at IMM Cologne?

Students, more than just decoration at IMM Cologne?

The future of the furniture industry lies in good design that breaks moulds and redefines convention.

Not copying and selling cheaper than the competition.

But it wasn’t all bad.

There weren’t a lot of genuinely new products on display, but there were an awful lot of genuinely very good products and among the producers we spoke to a lot of genuine optimism.

We discovered, and even rediscovered some wonderful products and on the whole the trip was more than worth it.

And certainly one to recommend.

However, if the IMM organisers want to make sure that the halls in Cologne are a little fuller in 2011 than 2010 … then they need to improve the incentives for those producers who do offer innovative quality to make the trip.

We’ll let you know if they manage it….

smow am rhein: [D³] Design talents

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Students. They’re a bit like the monsoon rains in Bangladesh.

Cause havoc and distress, yet without them out them human life would eventually cease to be.
And so we put up with them, because they are the future.

Weirdly.

Consequently the Cologne exhibition centre cellar, as are all cellars at such trade fairs, is currently rammed full of design students.

Under the combined title: [D³] Design Talents the IMM organisers have combined three streams:

[D³] Contest- a contest

[D³] Professionals – young, independent designers and design studios

[D³] Schools – colleges and universities.

The quality of the work on show is generally of a very high standard, and so in contrast to our original plan of getting in and getting out as quickly as possible, we’ve decided to linger a little longer.

Over the coming days we will present our impressions from the three strands, and of course those works which for us really stood out.

IMM Cologne: Design Talents

IMM Cologne: Design Talents

smow am rhein: ClassiCon

Friday, January 22nd, 2010
ClassiCon at IMM Cologne 2010

ClassiCon at IMM Cologne 2010

On Wednesday a tweet fluttered into our (smow)twitter from @imm_cologne with the information that the Munich based producer ClassiCon had decided to return to IMM Cologne.

Which in the wake of the shock we received on our first day here in Köln didn’t go unnoticed among the thousands of invites to cocktail parties and sumptuous buffets at some of Cologne’s finer addresses we’re forced to deal with.

Established in 1990 from the dying embers of the 1898 established “Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk” (for the sake of convenience lets just call it a collective of designers) ClassiCon inherited the rights to produce the works of designers such as Eileen Gray or Otto Blümel. Not content to rest on their laurels however, ClassiCon were quick to cooperate with young, emerging talents such as Konstantin Grcic or Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.

ClassiCon at IMM Cologne - Party!!

ClassiCon at IMM Cologne - Party!!

And it is this mix of established classics and modern innovation that has seen ClassiCon develop and expand over the last 20 years.

And is also one of the reasons a trade fair such as IMM Cologne needs companies like ClassiCon as a counter balance to the mediocre tat being peddled in other halls by men who think an expensive suit and an iPhone somehow makes them important and their products more valuable.

It doesn’t.

It’s not a second hand car show!

But back to quality designer furniture and ClassiCon.

Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray through ClassiCon - detail

Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray through ClassiCon - detail

To celebrate their 20th anniversary ClassiCon are now offering a 20 year guarantee on the Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray. One of the true classics of 1920s design, Gray originally created the Adjustable Table – as with the chair Roquebrune and the Petite Coiffeuse – for her own house in Roquebrune on the Cote d’Azur. With it’s chromium-plated steel tubing frame the adjusting of the Adjustable Table functions via a simple slot/rod mechanism; all beautifully set-off by a small chrome chain.

For such a product one really doesn’t need a 20 year guarantee – an Adjustable Table will outlive it’s owner -  but it is still nice to see ClassiCon standing so squarely behind their craftsmen.

Elsewhere on the ClassiCon stand we were delighted to finally get to see Saturn by Barber Osgerby; and would have loved to have compared it to Otto Blümel’s Nymphenburg, only that was far too high up.

And as ever, there are an awful lot of cheats, crooks and bandits out there and so before investing in design furniture always check that you are buying an officially licensed original. The designs of Eileen Gray, for all the Adjustable Table, the Bibendum Chair or the Non Conformist chair are globally among the most illegally copied furniture designs.

Only ClassiCon however are licensed to produce the works.

And only ClassiCon offer a 20 year guarantee on their craftsmanship.

Below is a small promotional video made by the IMM Cologne team in which ClassiCon boss Oliver Holy explains a little about the company and their relationship to IMM. Clever cats that they are the IMM marketing team have released it on sevenload: and so we’ve not got round to ripping and subtitling it yet… but we’ll get there. But possibly not until we’re back in Leipzig with the better software. And so for now it is only available in German.

Kölle Alaaf: luca lean by maigrau

Thursday, January 21st, 2010
luca lean by maigrau

luca lean by maigrau

According to the advertising information “The leaning lamp stresses the relationship between light and architecture by its generous gesture”

That as may be, for us luca lean by maigrau is one of those genially executed design concepts that separate the chaff from the rye.

Items leaning against walls is no new concept. Alone Moormann could create a category dedicated to furniture items that are supported by architectural supporting structures.

But wheels aint new either…what is new is new is how you use them.
For us there are two real positives in luca lean.

The first is the anonymity of the wood. You simply don’t notice it. Which gives the whole ensemble a delicate lightness.

The second is the shadow cast, a wonderful curving light that creates genuine atmosphere in a room: in addition to the light itself. The shadow is a result of the lamp: wall angle.

The oiled oak struts are combined by a triangular metal joint that also supports shade and bulb-fitting. While a foot dimmer allows you to adjust illumination to situation.

“luca” also comes in three legged “standard” floor version; but for us that is simply an alibi to appease the weak.

The leaning version is where it’s at.

Kölle Alaaf: luca lean by maigrau

luca lean by maigrau designers fair 2010

luca lean by maigrau designers fair 2010

smow am rhein: Kölle Alaaf

Monday, January 18th, 2010

We’re not going to pretend we’re fans of Carnival. Truth be told, for us Carnival and Oktoberfest belong to a class of cultural events that indicate a nation still struggling to come to terms with the fact that woolly mammoths no longer roam the land.

Or that women are allowed to vote.

However, we’re in Cologne and so we can at least pretend that we find alcohol fuelled violence oh-so amusing.
Especially when presented in conjunction with a Papier-mâché model of Angela Merkel with an exaggerated cleavage.

Obviously.

And so under the title “Kölle Alaaf” we will present those products that particularly catch our attention during Cologne Design Week; products which we feel are worthy of a special mention.

Kölle Alaaf is the traditional  “battle cry” of Carnival goers in Cologne and can be heard throughout the city during Carnival. Roughly translated it means “Everywhere else this would be called Komasaufen, but in Cologne it’s the cultural highpoint of the year!”.

In our case Kölle Alaaf translates simply as quality designer furniture!

smow am Rhein: Kölle Alaaf

smow am Rhein: Kölle Alaaf

smow am rhein: IMM Cologne 2010

Monday, January 11th, 2010

With the Christmas pounds still causing us to sink deeper into the January snow than we find attractive, it is with relief that we look forward to next weeks trip to the IMM in Cologne.

Because what with all that running about we wont have time to eat :)

In addition to its role as diet-helper,a s the first international furniture trade fair of the year IMM always offers a wonderful opportunity to both reflect on the good and the bad from 2009 as well as to try to size up the coming year.

And this year looks like being no exception.

In addition to the usual trade fair shenanigans this years IMM launches what the organisers describe as “a new exhibition format” the so-called pure village. This should, apparently, create “a stage on which stand-alone presentations of exclusive design items are showcased just as effectively as creative interior concepts.”

Which we think means the exhibitors can display complete room layouts.

We will however let you know. And let you know if the concept works.

In addition to the main IMM, the city will also be alive with “off” exhibitions and shows all of which will make it Germany’s furniture capital for a few, probably snowy, days.

In addition to numerous “smow am rhein” blog posts, we will also bring you the most important information – as well as predictably few things you could live quite happily without – via our flickr, youtube and twitter pages.

With the (smow)blog team on their way to IMM, the good burgers of Cologne have increased the citys defences...

With the (smow)blog team on their way to IMM, the good burgers of Cologne have fortified the city's defences...