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Intelligent material & design

interzum awards 2021: Sustainable winners

This year, interzum was held under the banner of interzum @home. That is because the coronavirus pandemic meant that many trade fairs had to switch to digital platforms, and the international fair for the furniture and interior construction industries’ supplying sections was no exception. Over four days, exciting presentations showcased the latest industry trends and innovative designs. A major highlight of the event was the presentation of the interzum award: intelligent material & design 2021. The winners clearly demonstrate the direction in which the industry can and should move in the future.

The JobTisch from Häfele is one of the winners at this year’s interzum awards.

The JobTisch from Häfele is one of the winners at this year’s interzum awards.

A trailblazing competition

Global trends manifest themselves in innovative concepts and products. This was also the case at this year’s interzum. The international fair for the furniture and interior construction industries’ supplying sections was held as a digital event under the banner of interzum @home. And, for what is now the eleventh time, the interzum award: intelligent material & design 2021 was also presented as part of the trade fair. The award turns the spotlight on technical developments, pioneering materials and product innovations in the furniture industry.

The jury, composed of six experts from the fields of design, material science and architecture, presented a total of twenty prizes. Four entries won a Best of the Best award for exceptional design achievements that set new standards in terms of form and function. Sixteen further products and materials received an award for high product quality. The jury evaluated the entries according to criteria such as the degree of innovation, functionality, quality of materials, design and digitalisation. In keeping with contemporary concerns, sustainability was one of the assessment criteria for the first time this year. “By including this subject in the official set of criteria, we wanted to send a clear signal that we would like to see more products and materials that take this factor into account as the industry looks to the future,” says Professor Dr. Peter Zec, organiser of the interzum awards and CEO of Red Dot.

A platform for sustainability

Sustainability is an issue that has become increasingly important at a societal level in recent years – it is also this year’s biggest trend in the furniture industry. When buying new furniture, customers are placing ever greater store by environmentally friendly production and sustainable materials. It is no longer enough for design to suit individual taste – it also has to protect the environment. The designers of the interzum awards 2021’s winning products were guided by this mindset, and their ideas are fully in tune with our times. “The winners of this year’s competition powerfully demonstrate that the furniture and supplier industry is looking for new and forward-looking solutions that conserve resources,” stated interzum Director Maik Fischer at the awards presentation. “Recycling considerations are also becoming more and more apparent.”

Take the example of Rexlam laminate. This flooring product is manufactured from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene. Compared with conventional laminates made of wood, the material is highly resistant to dust, scratches and chemicals – and therefore has a much longer life. And then there’s winning product Orbis, a sustainable foam made in accordance with the circular economy principle. Produced from recycled foam mattresses, it is designed to be reprocessed in its next life cycle to be made back into comfortable mattresses or upholstery for sofas and armchairs.

Innovative products and materials

Not only is interzum 2021 a trailblazer for the furniture industry on matters of sustainability, its winning products also reflect the latest interior design trends. The kitchen has taken on a central role in the life of many households over the past year, as demonstrated by the latest kitchen trends . As well as choosing a suitable kitchen design, it is also increasingly important to have the right lighting . With its Linear Lens, Häfele has launched an innovative, sustainable technology onto the market. The lamp intelligently concentrates the light from an LED strip, doubling its illuminance without increasing energy consumption. Easily mounted under wall units, the product is able to illuminate the entire worktop. One special feature of the lamp is that, thanks to its trapezoidal design, the light is directed towards the wall and doesn’t dazzle the user when cooking.

The Linear Lens from Häfele produces double the illuminance without increasing energy consumption.

The Linear Lens from Häfele produces double the illuminance without increasing energy consumption.

Alongside the winners of the Best of the Best award, the successful entrants to the High Product Quality category also represent the age we’re living in. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, working from home and new work have become increasingly significant trends. The furniture industry is responding to the situation with multifunctional solutions that perfectly combine aspects of life and work. One example of this is the JobTisch from Häfele – an innovative desk that can be easily set up anywhere in the home based on the plug and play principle. With an integrated under-desk drawer, magnetic panel, power sockets and USB connections, it offers the same level of comfort in the smallest of spaces as an office-based workstation does. With 156 different colour and material combinations, the desk can be coordinated with any interior design style and is therefore also highly rated in terms of compatibility. Its ergonomic, height-adjustable system allows the user to work sitting down or standing up. With this product, Häfele is picking up on a trend that has been taking shape in the furniture industry for some time: the symbiosis of design and comfort.

The demand for comfortable and ergonomic interiors is greater than ever – not just in the office but above all in the bedroom. For instance, the British-based Vita Group has developed the VitaRest. This eco-friendly pillow is manufactured from sustainably cultivated plants. Ergonomically designed, it responds to body heat and pressure points to provide maximum comfort and support during sleep.

Sustainability: the future of the furniture industry

The interzum award 2021 is one of the indicators that reveals the future of the furnishing and design industry. In a clear signal to all manufacturers and designers, the message from this year’s competition is that anyone seeking to keep up with social change must prioritise sustainability and eco-friendly practices with respect to materials and production.

Click here for details of all the winners in the Best of the Best and High Product Qualities categories.