At this year’s first major residential fair, the array of natural materials and finishes showed that 2013 is all about serenity.
If IMM Cologne had a mascot for the return to simplicity that reigned at the annual design fair, it was Das Haus, the show’s centrepiece. Conceived by Luca Nichetto, the model home mingled plants with modular furniture in natural materials and handcrafted adornments. With its louvred walls draped in trailing vegetation, the space felt calming – an effect echoed in the furnishings on display throughout the show.
Eager to put the economic downturn of 2012 behind them, exhibitors debuted pragmatic yet stylish products. More traditional brands, like Riva 1920 and ClassiCon, served up what they do best, ecstatic that what’s on brand also happens to be on trend. The handsomest collection was E15’s reissues of designs by Ferdinand Kramer: a walnut bench/coffee table topped with woven ballet-pink leather, complemented by metal side tables that stack to form shelving units. This elemental quality shone through as well in Nendo’s steam-bent ash chair for Conde House, just one example of how the modern wooden chair, at once conveying heirloom quality and cutting-edge design, is having its moment. But necessity still drives invention, and two unexpected standouts, Kvadrat’s revamped curtain rail and Flötotto’s ingenious cabinetry joint, showed that seemingly small improvements in user-friendly design trump flashy novelty any day of the week.
1 The Ban daybed and FortyForty side table by Ferdinand Kramer
To honour the 115th anniversary of Ferdinand Kramer’s birthday, E15 reissued select items by the late German architect. Best in show were the leather and walnut The Ban daybed (debuted in 1925) and the stackable steel FortyForty side table (1945).
2 Hansi by Njustudio
Off-site, independent designers displayed their eclectic skills. Njustudio’s Hansi, complete with steel bell, is a take on the mirrors hung in budgie cages, and a comment on the confined abodes of condo dwellers.
3 Wall-mounted desk by Böwer
Böwer’s wall-mounted desk helps users carve out a creative nook at home, with an adjustable privacy screen to block out distractions. The retractable leather work surface has ample storage for supplies underneath.
4 A Beautiful Day by Alessio Bassan
Capo D’Opera flaunted its prowess at surface treatments with a display of Alessio Bassan’s limited edition storage towers, set up in city block style. Called A Beautiful Day, the cabinets are clad in Corian slabs of varying widths and hues. capodopera.it
5 Stool by Rachel Griffin
The young designers in the D3 exhibit showcased their methods and materials. Rachel Griffin’s stool, for example, is produced in a one-step process, with the polyurethane foam padding poured into a felt mould that forms the seat and surrounds the wooden frame.
6 Lost Weave series by Jan Kath
Jan Kath’s Lost Weave series of rugs starts with evenly spaced pink stripes, which are then organically interrupted as the weavers switch from Tibetan wool and Chinese silk to nettle fibres.
7 Seam by E15
Manufacturers took a shine to copper this year, choosing the warm metallic to highlight such accessories as lights, side tables and trays. E15 reintroduced its Seam, a one-piece table lamp in highly polished copper.
8 The Tonic by Ames
The Tonic by Ames, which won an Innovation Award, pairs wooden containers with a metal structure for vertical and horizontal storage that’s assembled without tools.
9 Das Haus by Luca Nichetto
The fair’s central installation also set the tone. Das Haus, a cruciform residential setting designed by Luca Nichetto, featured louvre-like walls that spilled over with plants. The main idea: one’s home should connect with nature.
10 Áfrika by Cármenes
Cármenes’ Áfrika presented a study in contrasts. The overstuffed, down-filled sofa appears to float on its thin metal frame, which cuts into the piece, grounding it and adding a hit of red-hot flair. carmenes.eu
11 ADD by Werner Aisslinger
With ADD, Flötotto introduces a modular shelving system designed by Werner Aisslinger for effortless modification, thanks to an innovative joint. The plastic node connects the load-bearing structural elements, while panels and shelves clip on to the interior.
12 Belharra by Treku
Named for a tidal wave that forms off the Basque coast, Belharra, by Spain’s Treku, features a wooden work surface that curves above and below to frame storage nooks. It comes in four sizes and various laminate colours.
13 The Ready Made Curtain kit by the Bouroullec brothers
In Kvadrat’s latest collaboration with the Bouroullec brothers, the clunky curtain rod gets a major edit. The Ready Made Curtain kit contains a cord, pegs and wall fittings. The bare-bones system enables you to dress a window of any size in the fabric of your choice – with no tools or instructions.
14 Vase by Pepe Heykoop
Many at the show mistook Pepe Heykoop’s Vase – another Innovation Award winner – for ceramic. But it’s actually made from hundreds of coated paper triangles, hand sewn to create an extraordinarily malleable skin over an everyday glass bottle.
15 Punti by Neil Nenner
Reminiscent of overlapping lily pads, Neil Nenner’s Punti, for Gaga & Design, weaves together eight surfaces. Made of synthetic fibre and metal, the weather-resistant bench seats three.
16 Boogie Woogie by Linteloo
Like a Piet Mondrian painting brought to life, Boogie Woogie, by Linteloo, consists of steel squares and rectangles that outline different compartments, such as a shelf
and a magazine rack.
The best seat in the house, and 2013’s top accessory, is the endlessly versatile wooden chair – as seen in these stellar debuts by top manufacturers at IMM
1 Splinter by Nendo
For Conde House, Nendo – Japan’s sharpest design studio – designed Splinter, a seven-piece collection of steam-bent ash furniture. The most collectible item: the classic-styled armchair, with its seemingly sliver-thin frame.
2 Morph chairs by Friederike Klesper
Designer Friederike Klesper printed images from ’20s Chinese posters directly onto his Morph chairs’ seat shells (which are treated with a pro-tective coating), while still bringing out the veneer’s grain. Zeitraum offers a limited edition of 300.
3 Globe by Riva 1920
The wood gurus at Riva 1920 sculpt Globe from a single block of cedar. Ergonomic despite its appearance, the chair is shaped first, and then the footstool is carved from it. Both pieces are propped on iron bases.
4 Sedan by Neri & Hu
With its wide bucket seat and rectilinear base, in wood or metal, Sedan reads hefty. Designed by Neri & Hu for ClassiCon, with a moulded plastic seat in monochrome, two-tone or padded, the piece is actually lightweight and mobile.