Contributed by Susan Schultz
“Cautious optimism” seemed to be the key phrase at IMM Cologne. Everyone—the show producers, the exhibitors and the attendees—seemed to be pleased that traffic was only slightly down, overall exhibitors were only slightly fewer, etc. It did feel as if many of the exhibitors had cut back on their product introductions, but there were still so many great new pieces to oogle over.
Adaptable, flexible use sofas were introduced by several of the major European furniture brands, and one of them was an IMM Cologne award winner.
First up is Confluences, the aforementioned award-winner, designed by Phillipe Nigro for Ligne Roset. Nigro’s challenge was, as he put it, “to create a sofa capable of satisfying the greatest possible number of users. It would have to accommodate many different body shapes, seating preferences, taste and space requirements…” The result is a series is shapes that fit and flow into each other to create hundreds of different seating combinations, from a single lounge chair to four-seat set, to a contemporary take on the vis-à-vis. It’s an ingenious system that hides its deeply researched and engineered concept in a deceptively simple form.
Next is Threesixty, a new introduction from Walter Knoll that builds off the company’s success with its Lazy Island and Living Landscape collections. Threesixty is a smaller, more streamlined piece that either of its two predecessors, but to my eye, far more elegant. The two base seats fully rotate in any direction, allowing the backrest to act as an armrest, a side table, or even extra bench seating. As static photos don’t really do this piece justice, I recommend this link for a little animation that shows the functionality. And given the quality engineering the Germans are known for, each piece moves and rotates so easily…really one of my favorite pieces I saw at the show.
Seracs, designed by Alfredo Häberli for Fredericia consists of five pieces that can be infinitely arranged and added to, allowing clients to create a piece best suited to their requirements. If you’re on a windows system, you can check out the Seracs planner which allows you to choose the upholstery and color for each section and play around with the arrangement. Häberli, an Argentine who has had a studio in Switzerland for many years, also designed the Kavdrat wool fabrics for the upholstery.
Another consistently strong category at IMM Cologne is that of shelving and storage systems. Perhaps because Europeans typically live in smaller homes than most Americans, attractive, flexible solutions are always in demand.
Arie by Arik Levy for e15 can work as a long, low linear shelf, a single book shelf or a corner unit. Hidden supports mean it works as either a free-standing unit or can be attached to wall, and also helps lock the sections together if desired. Currently available in either solid European Oak or white powder-coated MDF.
Suitable for either the hedonist or the workaholic, Magic Cube from Yomei is a not-so-basic box that can be outfitted as a bar, a dressing table, or a computer workstation. Thanks to innovative customization each version is as functional and as stylish as the other. As a bar, the Magic Cube includes a mini-fridge, a back-lit mirror, plenty of storage shelves and a power outlet for a blender; in working mode you can get an extendable desktop, integrated surge-proof outlets and additional shelving for all those digital accessories. As a dressing table, that large backlit mirror is back in place, along with felt-lined jewelry drawers, outlets for your hair dryer and curler and cosmetic storage. Beautifully finished with leather drawers and trim, it can be further customized in myriad ways.
My final shelving selection comes from the d3 design talents section of IMM Cologne. Marco António Palas dos Santos Pina, a Portuguese designer studying in Düsseldorf introduced Verwoben, a shelving unit that allows the user to thread a textile “runner’ through a series of slots cut into each shelf. Clips keep the fabric taut and make it a fairly simple process to change out the fabric for a new look when the mood strikes.
Photos and text contributed by Susan Schultz
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