Rounding off our intensive pilgrimage around various spring trade show was the most excellent Ambiente (February 9 – 13), where trade visitors from 168 countries spent their time networking and ordering new products across the various sectors of Living, Giving and Fashion Accessories.
4,441 exhibitors from 89 countries occupying 308,000 (gross) square metres of space revealed the lifestyle, gift and interiors trends of the year ahead to the 134,600 buyers visiting Frankfurt in February. The top ten visitor nations after Germany were Italy, China, France, the United States, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Korea and Switzerland.
The event coincided with Germany’s carnival, which made a fitting backdrop to the spectacular new launches which particularly shone in Ambiente’s famous prestige Tableware sector.
Thomas Grothkopp, Managing Director of the German Trade Association for Residential Accommodation and Offices (HWB): “Ambiente has shown us once again that nothing can replace personal contact with new and existing suppliers and their innovative products. This trade fair in Frankfurt has totally met the expectations of the retail trade.”
As ever, thought-provoking trend features were offered alongside the multifarious new product displays from exhibitors, with trends running the gamut from opulent, colourful and extravagant through to simple, neutral and above-all functional.
Dutch industrial designer, Robert Bronwasser, provided a fabulous, De-Stijl/Mondrian inspired partner country presentation on behalf of The Netherlands. Bronwasser’s colourful ‘Do Dutch’ feature in the light-filled Galleria was designed to show Dutch creativity and diversity at its best. The geometric architectural cabinet was built from mouth-wateringly coloured cubes, each of which offered the perfect backdrop for Dutch exhibitors’ products, together with a smattering of cutting-edge designer talent and a fabulous blue Delft porcelain piece.
He commented. “For me Dutch design primarily signifies a mentality, a typical way of thinking and doing. What Dutch design dares to do is leave the beaten path, dare to experiment and look at shape, function and meaning in a new way. It is a mentality anchored in our culture.”
Robert’s design philosophy follows what he calls the SMILE principles: “Smart: design needs to provide smart solutions that improve the quality of everyday life; Modest: as a designer you need to respect the user and the environment; Iconic: as a designer I want to create new archetypes with personality and character; Logical: the best designs are evident and almost self-explanatory; Enjoyable: a well-designed product is a pleasure to have and use.”
The Netherlands partner country ambassador was TV star and model, Sylvie Meis, who said: “To feel at properly at home it’s essential to have the right interiors.”
Another interesting show feature was the Point of Sale to Point of Experience installation, which explored how products might be presented in the digital age, what digital applications can help the high street retailer and what the future of shopping might look like.
“The shop concept of the future will create combinations between different interests and will continually generate new stimuli – ideally in real-time” says Wolfgang Gruschwitz, MD of design studio Gruschwitz GmbH. “It’s a matter of drawing attention and building a robust relationship with the consumer through emotive [and interactive] content.”
This harmonised well with the growing trend for smart gadgets and household solutions, products that incorporate LED lights and other new technologies, such as attractive portable charging devices and products that can be synced with mobile phones.
Another very strong trend emerging from the show was a nod to increasing pressure on consumers to ditch one-use plastic bottles, coffee cups and food bags for eco-friendly alternatives. Many stands in the contemporary gift halls offered good solutions for water lovers and coffee geeks, putting the onus now on retailers to encourage their customers to adopt sustainable solutions.
For the first time during this year’s show, Tableware International magazine held an awards event for exhibitors on Monday February 12. From 48 finalists, the top three in each of 16 categories were recognised during the Awards of Excellence, before the winners were revealed. The winners are:
Hospitality Dinnerware: Purity Coup and Square Plates/Platters, Bauscher
Fine Dinnerware: Luminous Collection, Prouna (Hankook China)
Casual Dinnerware: Blue Azzurro Collection from Luca Andrisani by Lenox
Barware: Collar Cocktail Shaker, Stelton
Licensed Collaboration: Sumi-No-Toki Collection, Nikko
Flatware / Cutlery: Giro Collection, Alessi
Fine Glassware: Barnyard Collection, Artel Glass
Casual Glassware: Pino Pint Glass, Magisso
Decorative: Fondale Vase Series, Rosenthal
Giftable Tableware: Sip of Gold Black & White Collection, Sieger by Fuerstenberg (below)
Metals: Crystalline Collection, Royal Selangor
Artisanal: Bravura Vase, Herend Porcelain Manufactory
Tabletop Accessories: Grind, Alessi
Outdoor Tableware: NOHC Flatware, Herdmar
Featured images include products from (top to bottom): Zweisel, Meissen, Dibbern coloured glassware and striped plates, Roberto Cavalli Home, Robert Bronwasser’s Do Dutch presentation, Ambiente’s own trend feature, Doli water bottles, Essential.com food bags and Wood Way bamboo coffee cups.