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Heading into a circular future

The imm Spring Edition 2023: a look back

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What are the latest trends in the world of interior design? How green is the home furnishings sector? And how will it succeed in making the transition to a circular business model that conserves and reuses resources? The imm Spring Edition 2023 gave valuable insights into the industry’s hot topics through exciting live conversations, a forward-looking summit and a host of sustainable concepts found among the innovative design solutions presented by the around 720 exhibitors. From recyclable polyester covers to resource-friendly combinations of solid wood and clay, the aim is universal: to create furniture and furnishings that are timeless in design and as long-lasting as possible. Read on to find out what this can look like and which interiors objects and solutions really stood out.

People visiting a trade fair stand, viewed through a cut-out in a wall.

The imm Spring Edition focused on the latest interior design trends that are setting new standards in terms of design, sustainability and workmanship.

Trade fair visitors walk through the Home Sleep interior world.

The bedroom as a feel-good zone: in the Home Sleep interior world, everything revolved around innovative sleep systems paired with stylish interiors.

Highlights from the Home interior worlds

At the imm Spring Edition, the Home interior worlds were the new venue for lifestyle-focused furnishing solutions. Divided into Home Sleep, Home Scenes and Home Settings, this was where visitors could discover the latest innovations and new ideas for their homes.

From furniture made using petals or clay to collapsible designs, unconventional acoustic panels, hemp mattresses and 3D loudspeaker enclosures, all manner of innovative and interesting products were on display. Here’s just a small selection of the manufacturers whose stands were worth visiting at the imm Spring Edition.

Made-to-measure, naturally: Furninova

Furninova has been producing bespoke and custom-made sofas for over 30 years, earning it a place among Scandinavia’s leading manufacturers. From frames to upholstery, everything is made in-house in Sweden. Time and time again, Furninova takes on the challenge of putting together collections with a reduced environmental impact – without compromising on quality or design.

The high-tech route to perfection: Knudsen

The next imm Spring Edition exhibitor who stood out comes from Denmark. Knudsen, which has been producing high-quality furniture since 1973, has some 90,000 square metres of factory space spread across Europe. These days, the company’s skilled craftspeople work side by side with high-tech machines and manufacture a large proportion of the components themselves on site. Knudsen’s manufacturing process pays particular attention to the durability of its furniture.

Taking tradition into the future: Koinor

In northern Bavaria, Koinor operates one of the most state-of-the-art production facilities for upholstered furniture in Europe. On an area covering more than 25,000 square metres, all of the company’s manufacturing processes have been optimised down to the last detail – not least thanks to innovative technology. However, it still regards upholstery as an art, and the role of machines is only to support skilled craftspeople, some of whom are the second or third generation of their families to work for Koinor.

Every piece of furniture is a piece of nature: Nouvion

For Nouvion, nature serves above all as a source of both inspiration and the most beautiful materials. That’s why the Dutch company strives to keep the environmental footprint of all its design objects as small as possible by using recycled wood, heating its factory with its own waste wood and dispensing with chemical additives and substances. When a customer buys a piece of furniture from Nouvion, they receive a little piece of nature – without nature having been exploited in the process.

Wood in its roots: Voglauer

Having started as a small carpentry business, this long-established family-owned company from Austria now employs more than 400 people. Voglauer sees its furniture as an homage to wood as a raw material and has always made considerate, responsible and forward-looking business practices a top priority. Voglauer publishes regular sustainability reports to highlight the important role the issue plays at the company.

Solid wood meets clay: Wimmer

Family-run company Wimmer is making use of a virtually forgotten alternative material by incorporating clay components into some of its solid wood furniture designs. Whether in a cupboard door, a coffee table or a chair, the two materials combine elegantly to create a harmonious and natural interplay in an interior space. The clay features are decorated with imprints of ferns or grasses. Each piece is made entirely by hand, making it truly unique.

Young design talent

As a special highlight, the imm Spring Edition took part in a programme launched by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) to promote the participation of innovative young businesses in leading international trade fairs in Germany. This meant that companies like Marsch Inventions – known, among other things, for its Aural Sculptures hi-fi speakers featuring 3D-printed enclosures – or Lomio, with its unusual furniture made of solid wood and a compressed material mixture containing petals, moss and hay, had the chance to impress the trade fair audience this year.

Two armchairs in the Design for Decades exhibition

Free-standing furniture in a minimalist setting: Pure Galleries transformed the exhibition hall into an art gallery with its Design for Decades exhibition concept.

Trade fair meets art galleryFurninova

That was the motto of the innovative Pure Galleries exhibition concept and the special Design for Decades presentation at the imm Spring Edition. Unpretentious and without a lot of fuss – but with an uninterrupted focus on objects and their aesthetics. Composed of compact, minimalist trade fair stands where leading brand manufacturers presented design classics, concepts and innovations, Hall 11.2 became a large, open work of art.

Anyone exploring the Pure Galleries was sure to come across CASE at some point. Thanks to its exceptional design flexibility, which allows it to be integrated harmoniously into almost any interior, the customisable sideboard from Kettnaker makes quite an impression. After this designer piece, the next stand accommodated KFF, specialists in lounge, dining and high-dining furniture. Chairs, stools, armchairs and sofas: they all strike a balance between timeless design and reflecting the spirit of the times. Rather than standing in isolation, they accentuate – or provide a contrast to – almost any architectural style. Meanwhile, timeless design could also be found at the Janua stand. Wood with character, and furniture that doesn’t simply follow trends – that’s the philosophy according to which these shelves, tables, benches and beds are manufactured. Sometimes polarising and unusual. But always defiant.

“Like a partner you can rely on.” That’s the guiding principle behind every piece of furniture produced by Montis. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a chair or a sofa, it should make the user happy – for years to come. And because tastes can alter over time or fabrics wear out, the company uses covers that are easy to change. Long-lasting furniture was also the centre of attention at Rodam’s trade fair stand. Its beautifully crafted solid wood pieces combine functionalism and clear lines, and have done so for almost 70 years. The results are minimalist designer pieces that draw the eye despite their understated forms. Speaking of eye-catching features: at the Miinu stand, all eyes would automatically drift towards the floor and the company’s unique rugs. All made by hand, because Miinu is only interested in moving in one direction on the quality ladder – upwards.

From original rugs to unconventional bathrooms à la Giulio Tanini S.p.a. Here, the maxim is to be bold and go for a wild mix of minimalist, Art Deco, Scandinavian and classic styles, combined with a unique design language. The result is an interior that proclaims the bathroom to be the number one feel-good zone. Moving down the aisle, visitors reached the raumplus stand – dominated by sliding doors, room dividers as well as wardrobe systems and sideboards. Each of them a made-to-measure one-off. What they have in common is the concept of using and dividing spaces to make the most out of them. The name of the company at the next stand sets the tone for its collection. Freifrau – German for baroness, or more literally: free woman – is known for comfortable seating furniture that’s stylish and sensual and often has a certain femininity. No wonder, then, that its individual collections bear women’s names like Grace, Amelie or Leya. They all share the same high standards of quality and sustainability. Those wandering past stand 003 were drawn in by the maxim “Simply Beautiful”, to which the Schönbuch company subscribes. Known, among other things, for furniture fronts that can be decorated using wallpaper from the MARNI collection, as well as for collectors’ pieces for living rooms and bedrooms that are simultaneously timeless and modern. Handmade in Bavaria.

Of course, there were many more interior design trends to be discovered in the Pure Galleries: from sideboards with what appeared to be integrated fireplaces to office chairs that looked like springs to creations by well-known manufacturers, such as ARTISAN d.o.o., brühl & sippold, BW Bielefelder Werkstätten, Christine Kröncke Interior Design, COR Sitzmöbel, JORI, KLÖBER, Label, Leolux, müller möbelfabrikation, Scholtissek, Signet and Werther, to name but a few.

Patrick Reymond and Simon Keane-Cowell on stage in front of a black background

Known for an approach he calls “storytecture”, Patrick Reymond, co-founder of atelier oï, explained how he finds inspiration beyond the drawing board.

Architonic’s live conversations in the Speakers’ Corner @ The Circle

It wasn’t just their carefully curated designer pieces that made the Pure Galleries well worth seeing. The exhibition was complemented by Architonic’s live interviews and their host Simon Keane-Cowell. Taking centre stage were renowned industry luminaries from the fields of product design, architecture and interior design – such as Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider. The two founders of the Cologne design studio KASCHKASCH favour a clear design language that combines straight lines and beauty. From washbasins to armchairs and beds, what makes their creations stand out is their low-key design and austere forms – in other words, interior design free from excessive ornamentation.

The conversation with Sebastian Herkner also focused on innovative product design. A love of traditional craftsmanship, coupled with an instinct for colours, materials and textures: this is the secret formula underlying Herkner’s creations, which have been awarded prizes including the IF Award, the Iconic Award and the Elle Deco International Design Award. His client list boasts renowned brands such as Ligne Roset, Rolf Benz, Thonet and Zanotta.

Architect Maxime d’Angeac took his audience on a journey on the Orient Express. Who doesn’t think of this luxurious ambience being in the Art Deco style of the Roaring Twenties? This is precisely the atmosphere d’Angeac captured when he designed the interiors for a reboot of the legendary train. To achieve this, he opted for a blend of the finest materials, such as elm root, mahogany, velvet and silk; in addition, the finest inlay work combined with mirrors and crystal make the Orient Express a work of art in every respect. Incidentally, the refurbished train is scheduled to return to the tracks in 2024.

Returning to 2023 and to the next guest in conversation on the stage – Patrick Reymond, a man who has elevated “storytecture” to form the foundation for his work process. To him and his studio, atelier oï, this is all about giving stories material form. Every creation has a different context and a particular tale to tell. True to the motto “Form follows content”. Instead of originating on the drawing board, his ideas develop through experimentation with materials. It’s with good reason that his reputation for thinking with his hands precedes him.

Dara Huang, founder of architecture and interior design firm Design Haus Liberty, was the final figure to participate in the series of live conversations. A recurring element of her work is the mixture of natural light and proximity to nature, enabling design and landscape to interact with one another. A prime example of this approach is the Villa Mosca Bianca, which is encircled by large glass walls, creating the illusion of bringing the outside world into the building.

Progressing towards a circular economy

The interior design industry is increasingly embracing the circular economy concept. This was demonstrated by many of the design solutions exhibited as well as by formats like the imm Spring Edition Summit. With “Circular Economy” as its subject, the event shed light on the impact this approach is having on the industry. Speakers from the worlds of politics, manufacturing and retail, creative industries and associations responded to questions like: Where does the industry currently stand? How can the furniture business move forward in a sustainable way? And what does circular-ready interior design look like? Guests at the Circular Cooperation Network Day (CCND) organised by FURNITURE 4.0 also asked themselves similar questions. True to the guiding principles of “circular, digital, cooperate”, the event focused on topics such as sustainability as a value driver, rethinking furniture and innovative approaches to recycling. The Design for Decades exhibition revealed what circular interior design might look like. Some of the exhibited design classics underlined the important role quality in production, design and materials plays when it comes to long service life and reuse in accordance with the circular economy concept.

Where will the interior design industry go from here? We’ll give you a glimpse of the future at the next imm cologne. By the way, you won’t have to wait a whole year for the next edition: in 2024, we’re returning to our usual month and hope to see you at Germany’s biggest Interior Business Event from 14 to 18 January. Register to be an exhibitor now and secure your early-booking discount today.