Apart from the chance to peruse and consider the collections and new products of and from a wide variety of manufacturers and labels, one of the real joys of visiting any furniture fair is the opportunity it allows to observe designers in conversation with manufacturers and labels. For all in pairings that currently don’t formally exist. We never eavesdrop on such conversations, that would be rude, and to overplay our prowess as spies; but we do enjoy imagining what may arise from those conversations, imagining the enthralling objects and brave new world that awaits us all.
A brave new world that far from being a refuge from our contemporary world in many regards helps sharpen our focus on the contemporary world that surrounds us, the collections and new products of and from a wide variety of manufacturers and labels laid out for our consideration and perusal.
New products that may have begun as an informal conversation on a trade fair stand. And now look where that’s developed…..
And so, and with our customary caution that we have invariably missed one or the other gem, which in this case we know we did, but which we plan to make up for later, an IMM Cologne 2020 High Five!!
Our increasingly networked, digital, virtual society is not only changing our relationship to innumerable everyday activities, activities such as personal communication, shopping or watching television to name but three, and thereby activities which a few short years ago seemed destined to remain unchanged for ever, but is also changing our relationship to work, be that in terms of what we do, where we do it or how we do it.
Changes which invariably place both new demands on our furniture, and our understanding of the term “functional” in context of furniture; an understanding which a few short years ago seemed destined to remain unchanged for ever.
With the showcase USM Haller HomeWork smow Cologne consider responses to such evolutions with the assistance of the USM Haller modular furniture system.
Within any regular pentagon one can locate, in numerous, manifold, relationships, the Golden Ratio, that centuries old guarantor of harmony, balance, beauty….
And within an irregular Pentagon?
With the exhibition
Design Gruppe Pentagon the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne search for an answer in context of the 1980s Rheinland design quintet…….
According to the posters to be found liberally distributed throughout the city, IMM Cologne 2019 promised to present “1000 furnishings ideas for your home”
And it may very well have done. We didn’t count. Not least because….
What interest the number, if the ideas themselves ain’t meaningful?
What interest the number, if the ideas themselves ain’t logical?
What interest the number, if the ideas themselves ain’t justifiable?
Or reducing the thought to its essence, what interest the idea if it ain’t meaningful, logical and justifiable?
1 meaningless, illogical and unjustifiable idea being every bit as undesirable and harmful as 1000.
As Brexit so poetically underscores.
And so while we can’t confirm there were a 1000 ideas, we can confirm that the principle idea at IMM Cologne 2019 was “consolidation”, the presentation of familiar lines in different colours, materials, heights, widths, etc….
Which, yes, is a comment we make a lot about furniture trade fairs, one we get the impression we’re making ever more often, one we feel will ultimately see us stop attending such; but a comment that, as ever, isn’t a complaint, far from it. It needn’t, shouldn’t, always be new, new, new. If it is it becomes fashion, not furniture. And thoroughly awful.
Whereby one must add IMM Cologne featured some very intelligent, meaningful, logical, justifiable, consolidations. Consolidation ≢ bad.
But there does also need to be new. Because on the one hand technology and materials are ever new, and furniture designers and the, and for want of a better phrase, designer furniture industry, have a duty to respond to those changes; on the other society is ever new, and by extrapolation so are the demands we place on our furniture, be that functionally, aesthetically or environmentally, and furniture designers and the designer furniture industry have a duty to respond to those changes; and on the rare, and especially valuable third hand, in order to advance we need that which we didn’ know we needed, that which we could never have imagined being without, even though we could never imagine being with, that which questions the accepted. Responding to such new realities, challenging conventions, presenting solutions based on a singular understanding of the reality, is the basis of what ultimately became the designer furniture industry and the furniture designer, and the future of both can only be found in the same.
Or put another way, the balance between the established and the new needs to remain healthy if the, for want of a better phrase, designer furniture industry, is to remain relevant.
And so, and as ever with the assumption we have missed one or the other delight, and/or not fully understood something we did see, a smow Blog IMM Cologne 2019 High Five!!
It’s probably fair to say that no object at IMM Cologne 2018 confused us quite as much as the new 118 chair by Sebastian Herkner for Thonet.
Not in bad way. Just in a confused way.
We know, we know, what sort of being gets confused by chairs.
Us. Regularly. It’s why our lives’ are such a mess.
Aside from the chance to catch up with, and following the development of, familiar manufacturers and designers, one of the (all too rare) joys of a fair like IMM Cologne is being introduced to the previously unknown.
Among our new discoveries at IMM Cologne was Münster based manufacturer Caussa.
While Georges-Eugène Haussmann is associated with the radical and unrestrained, Atelier Haußmann prefer the understated and reserved. Yet applied with the same level of conviction, self-confidence and appreciation of a well considered line.
Following a couple of years absence 2018 saw Atelier Haußmann return to IMM Cologne….
The English playwright and composer Noël Coward is widely attributed to have once opined that, “a perfect Martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy”
We can’t confirm if Munich based StudioFaubel employed the grand raconteur’s advice in the development of their Martini Sessel for Müller Möbelfabrikation. The result is however equally as satisfying…..
One of the early highlights of our 2017 #campustour was the Arc Collection by Marie Hesseldahl & Nanna Neergaard created in context of their Diploma project at Design School Kolding.
Consequently it was a particularly pleasing mødes igen with the Arc Collection at IMM Cologne 2018 where it was launched as a product family by Danish manufacturer Le Klint.
In his 5th century BC text “The Art of War”, the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu notes:
There are roads, not to take.
There are armies, not to attack.
There are towns, not to besiege.
There are terrains, not to contest.
There are ruler’s orders, not to obey.1
Were Sun Tzu’s metier the furniture fair rather than the warfare, we feel certain he would have added:
There are objects, not to produce.
IMM Cologne 2018 is awash with such. It’s not IMM’s fault; rather is endemic of an industry which supplies utensils of human need, objects which surround our every waking and sleeping moments, accompany the trials, tribulations, triumphs and temporality of existence, but which all too often do so not with the aim of improving our immediate environment, be that aesthetically, functionally or morally, but of generating profit.
The inevitable result is innumerate brands all desperately trying to prove they can do exactly the same as everyone else, can all do what the t**** soothsayers tell them the market(s) want.
Yet as George Nelson teaches us, don’t produce for a perceived market, produce for yourself. Your customers will find you. And those who don’t, aren’t your customers.
As we say, its not IMM’s fault, IMM is one the major furniture industry platforms, and consequently its visitors are exposed to a very concentrated dose of the unnecessary and unseemly
However it’s not all soulless pastiche, lazy appropriation or “cocooning” at IMM Cologne 2018, there are also works which demonstrate as Sun Tzu reminds us, and despite what we may believe in any given moment, “Anger can turn to pleasure.”
As ever, we’re not claiming to have seen everything, have invariably missed some gems, while there are a few projects which may in retrospect have earned a place in the following list, but on which we are still in the process of forming an opinion.
With that in mind, and in no particular order, our IMM Cologne 2018 High Five!
As a fair IMM Cologne 2017 didn’t impress, but one or the other product did. Our IMM Cologne 2017 High Five!! And a few words of comfort from Epictetus.
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