• Cindy W. Hodnett

Various countries, cultures on stage at Ambiente

Cindy HodnettCindy Hodnett - Upholstery/Style
Earlier this month I attended Ambiente, a home furnishings and accessories show in Frankfurt, Germany. It was my first time at Ambiente, an annual event that drew more than 144,000 visitors this year, and as with all of the European shows I've attended, I came away with renewed appreciation for the creativity that keeps our industry fresh.
     Along with the 4,714 exhibitors from 81 countries, Ambiente included several notable addendums designed to create excitement and conversation. In Hall 4.1, Super Ennichi stopped walk by traffic. A presentation created by designer Yukio Hashimoto to commemorate Japan's status as the 2014 Ambiente partner country, Super Ennichi celebrated a "happy festival," and Hashimoto's multicolored framework was an ideal showcase for the Japanese exhibitor products and crafts on display.
     "Many people think that Japanese design is generally refined and delicate," said Hashimoto in an interview with show organizers. "It's much more than that though. Many design styles are infused with wit and humor. At Ambiente, I want to use design to introduce visitors from all over the world to the unknown sides of Japan."
     In the Trends 2014 exhibit area at Ambiente, new product designs were grouped in four visually distinct spaces including Stunning Temper, Serene Nature, Subtle Spirit and Striking Mind. Each area showcased a unique color palette that corresponded to new designs, and the implied inherent ambiance provided an easy-to-remember lifestyle story for buyers to take with them long after the show.
     One of the most fascinating models of market efficiency and information dissemination was the speed-dating sessions put together by Messe Frankfurt, the show organizers. In these one-hour segments, buyers could take a break from the show and observe as suppliers introduced themselves and their products in brief vignettes to the audience - short, sweet and to-the-point interactions that were informative, pithy and memorable for their brevity, a well-planned companion to busy market schedules.
     Another activity that the European markets seem to have perfected is a seamless integration between design discussion and the E business of market. During Ambiente, Prof. Hansjerg Maier-Aichen of the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design conducted several tours with media representatives, pointing out many of the show's noteworthy introductions while also addressing the perceived disconnect between outstanding design and commoditization. Look for more from Maier-Aichen in an upcoming edition of F/T.
      Officials report that more than half of the buyers attending Ambiente were from countries other than Germany, and that substantial percentage represents a lot of international traffic on the lookout for products and designs to take to consumers. With the announcement of the United States as the Partner Country in 2015, "Made in America" has another opportunity to shine on the international stage, both in Frankfurt and beyond. It will be fascinating to watch as U.S. representatives put together an exhibit area to represent the culture of America and even more intriguing to watch the response of the Ambiente audience to the all-things-American display.
     "Ambiente has never been so international and important for the sector as today," said Detlef Braun, a Messe Frankfurt board member. "The positive economic climate in Germany and the upturn in the world economy have given the fair a substantial boost."
     Alles Gute (All the best), Herzlichen Gluckwunsch (Best wishes) and Viel Gluck (Good luck) to Messe Frankfurt and the 2015 Ambiente American collaborators.
     Es wird großartig sein (It's going to be great)!

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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