IMM Cologne 2010
Fear not, we’ve still got a duffel bag full of products and stories from our week in Cologne to bring you.
However we feel it only right to quickly review the 2010 IMM Cologne.
Elsewhere we’ve read that there were no trends to be found at IMM.
Which for us is positive.
Trends have no place in the furniture business.
Trends imply that the role of furniture is to meet some pre-ordained assumption on the part of the consumer as to what their furniture should look like, how it should behave and how it should interact with the world around it.
Such trends generally start from some self-appointed “trend expert” and are then taken over wholesale by marketing departments and lazy journalists.
And is why the product range in some halls was so appalling, and is also one of the reasons why furniture sales are slumping.
214 from Thonet - Innovative German design ... but would it have been exhibited at IMM 1859?
Offer a consumer a choice between 1000 products that fit to a “trend” and you breed lethargy in the consumers – all they see is the same products, being sold with the same pitches… And while a few will fall for the silky sales lines and the promise of a better social image; the majority will realise they are being force fed over-priced tat. And not bite
However, offer the customer something that doesn’t fit any universal plan, but which through its form, functionality and design makes their life easier or simply more enjoyable – and more importantly let the customer decide what the product means to them and how it fits into their world – then you motivate the customer.
And for our money the work of the “trend experts” could be seen on many of the stands and heard in the senseless, contextless use of words like “organic” or “wellness” flowing like honey from the mouths of the sales professionals employed to drive home the message.
The resulting “sameness” in some halls was genuinely shocking.
As was the cheek of some producers.
Despite the IMM organisers assertions that there would be no copies on display in Cologne; there were an awful lot of products where you had to question if the company involved honestly wasn’t aware of obscure designs such as the Barcelona Chair or the Ant Chair.
We know, not everyone can have our encyclopedic knowledge of deign history; but to invite companies to take part who offer on their websites products that are clearly derived from patent protected designs is cheeky.
And does the students in Hall 3.1 a huge disservice as it underpins the quite acceptance in the furniture trade that while creativity is good… copying is cheaper and better for the profit margins.
Students, more than just decoration at IMM Cologne?
The future of the furniture industry lies in good design that breaks moulds and redefines convention.
Not copying and selling cheaper than the competition.
But it wasn’t all bad.
There weren’t a lot of genuinely new products on display, but there were an awful lot of genuinely very good products and among the producers we spoke to a lot of genuine optimism.
We discovered, and even rediscovered some wonderful products and on the whole the trip was more than worth it.
And certainly one to recommend.
However, if the IMM organisers want to make sure that the halls in Cologne are a little fuller in 2011 than 2010 … then they need to improve the incentives for those producers who do offer innovative quality to make the trip.
We’ll let you know if they manage it….