Comfort, relaxation, functionality in home furnishings make a return in 2014 at IMM in Cologne, Germany; leisure, how and where one spends free time, is gaining importance as work-life balance changes
January 20, 2014
– Ursula Geismann says Germans loving being within the four corners of their homes and they pay special attention to making things as comfortable and relaxed as possible. And comfort and relaxation were the two watchwords of the international furnishing show, the IMM, last week in Cologne, Germany.
At this year's show, furniture manufacturers showed how they have gone all out to put their customers at ease.
"We've seen this before but now comfort has been put on a new pedestal," says Geismann.
"It's no longer about a gold-plated Venetian gondola on a shelf that lights up." Geismann says it's more about setting a tone. A table light not only makes a room bright, it lights it to perfection. It's about stage-managing your home.
"I believe customers will put even more emphasis on this," says Geismann who has been observing trends in home furnishings for many years. "People have become more sensitized to how they live their lives. They understand that they want to feel relaxed on the 340 days a year they spend at home (and are not away on vacation)."
Markus Majerus, spokesman for the IMM, agrees.
"The work-life balance is changing. People still think it's important to have a good job and earn good money. But leisure is gaining in importance." And precisely how and where you spend your free time is becoming a status symbol.
That could be seen this year in how much weight was put on furnishings that attract attention. Trend analyst Gabriela Kaiser says colour plays a major role in this.
"But only one element is allowed to be colourful, such as a single shelf in an otherwise muted shelf system." Or perhaps only the couch is colourful. "It's about splashing colour about sparingly, but it must attract the viewer's eye."
The trend towards more comfort is found in every room in the home. Even garden furniture is following the look. Bathroom designers have also picked up on comfort.
"Until now they were more likely to display their products at sanitation trade fairs," according to Geismann.
Individuality was the second big trend in evidence at the IMM.
"Of course we are still seeing the big emotional status symbols like certain types of smartphones that everyone simply must have," said trade fair spokesman Majerus. "But there is no longer a dominant movement that everyone has to follow. Everyone can pick and choose which direction they want to go."
There was a third trend at the fair.
"I'm very excited to discover that almost all the furniture on show has two or more functions," says Majerus. Many items have extras: sofas that turn into beds or, with the addition of a table, can even be a working space.
"But what attracted my attention most of all was wallpaper with integrated loudspeakers," says the spokesman.
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