It’s fair to say that for us the real shock of IMM Cologne 2011 was the number of senseless sofa combinations and truly, truly, hideous leather cantilever dining chairs on show.
And that despite that fact we were expecting such.
It of course wasn’t all cheap pointless tat, there were also some wonderful young designers on show and one or two brave producers with genuinely interesting, innovative and aesthetically coherent product ranges.
They were sadly in the minority – and we fear that in the coming years they will become even rarer and that IMM will increasingly look even more like a cheap out-of-town furniture discounter than it does at the moment.
IMM has two main problems: Milan and Maison et Objet in Paris.
Paris is sexy, exciting, dangerous, passionate…..
And no amount of Viva Colonia is going to entice young dynamic producers and designers to the Rhein when a couple of days later they can be on the Seine.
For that they need the belief that there is a real reason to exhibit in Cologne; be it at IMM, Designers Fair, or independently in the city.
At the moment they simply don’t have that.
And regardless of how large, expensive and wholly irrelevant Milan becomes, the furniture industry will continue to cling to its beloved Milano like some gin-addled old woman who can’t face the hollow reality of her existence sober – and that means that IMM need a concept that offers exhibitors alternatives that they do not have in Milan.
That was always the case – but the changing nature of the global furniture industry makes it more important now than in the 70s or 80s.
At the end of the day everyone knows that launching new products in Milan makes no sense – the fair is too big and the international media only listen to those with whom they have a personal relationship or those with the biggest PR budget.
Launching products in Cologne makes sense – but only if IMM provides a suitable environment.
But the press room at IMM is full of advertising sales reps and PR agencies on the look out for new clients.
We’re not saying its any different in Milan – we’re saying it should be different than in Milan.
Read many good interviews from IMM?
People still talk about Verner Panton’s Visiona 2 exhibition from 1970. It’s highly unlikely anyone would even notice in 2011.
IMM need to decide if they want to position themselves as a fair for the lower rungs of the quality and taste ladder – or if they want to offer furniture for the majority of purchasers. And furniture that is ecologically and ethically justifiable.
For if they just want the cheap leather sofas – then please do us all a favour and lose the innovative producers and young designers.
It would be a real shame. It would however be real honest.
With d3 Design Talents IMM have a nice concept, one that works, and indeed one that is important for IMM – but it needs to be better supported by the Messe and not just seen as market relevant add-on that looks good in the sales brochures.
d3 Professionals showed what a wonderful range and depth of design talent Germany – and neighbouring countries – have to offer.
Young designers who are prepared to invest time and money in establishing themselves and their ideas in a very competitive global market.
However many of those who took part in d3 Professionals were once in Cologne as part of a college show.
And so if IMM want to ensure the continued success of d3 Professionals they would be well advised to treat the current student generation with a little more respect.
The location of the d3 Schools show this year was an absolute disgrace. Had we been due to exhibit there we would have packed our bags and left – never to return.
Stockholm Design Week is four weeks later, cheaper, more personal – and just as close to Cologne as Berlin, Vienna or London.
We know where we’d rather exhibit.
IMM Cologne will of course continue to survive – it would just be nice if it also remained, relevant, innovative and an event that one looked forward to.
Rather than feared.