These projects by krupka–stieghan, VAUDE, Studio Paul Ketz, Anna-Lena Wolfrum and MUD Jeans are just five of the cutting-edge designs featured in the interzum inspires exhibition, curated by Kim N. Fischer. Forming the centrepiece of the biennial trade fair of furniture and interior production in Cologne (16 to 19 May), the exhibition advances interzum’s focus on sustainable design practices and innovative materials. With its emphasis on pragmatism and functional solutions, interzum will no doubt be a welcome antidote to the spectacle-orientated design fairs pumping out eye candy during the first few months of the year.

Putting daydreaming aside, interzum provides a moment for designers and producers to get back to work and down to business. First presented in 1959 and organised by the producers of imm cologne, interzum is the biggest exhibition of its kind in the world, and this year it has more exhibitors and more space than ever before, with some 1500 participants from over 60 countries. An expanded supplementary programme of curated exhibitions, installations, and events has also been put together to provoke debate, stimulate innovation and knowledge sharing, and facilitate networking and partnerships.

MUD Jeans
An area called Mobile Spaces investigates how surfaces and materials affect the experience of transport vehicles such as automobiles, caravans, and aeroplanes. With the radical technological advancement in self-driving cars, digital networks, and electric motors, the mobility sector is experiencing a rapid transformation that calls for the sophisticated mitigation of costs and environmental impact. Another special area is dedicated to the digital and additive manufacturing of original and flexible surfaces for use in the home and in furnishings. And celebrating the best products on show from the international furniture supplier industry are the interzum awards.

Between interzum inspires and the Circular Thinking area, however, interzum is definitely staking its bets on green design. The Circular Thinking area will present all manner of chairs that have been made using upcycling, out of materials that would otherwise end up as landfill – seagrass, bioplastics, potato industry waste, flax by-products, artichoke leaves, skateboards, and bio-resins, to name but a few. Manufacturing and processes that conserve energy usage as well as other closed-loop material cycles will also be highlighted. A one-day conference on 18 May, Circular Thinking – from Upcycling to Biofabrication, sees industry experts sharing their knowledge with visitors and exhibitors.

krupka-stieghan, Recreate textiles
The fair is oriented towards facilitating networking, and particularly interaction and cross-pollination between emerging and small design practices with industrial and large-scale manufacturers. For instance, the way Fischer has curated interzum inspires highlights the atypical, experimental work of young designers, while provoking and encouraging the industry to integrate and upscale such approaches in their own systems. The aim is to inspire the incorporation of more thinking-philosophy-sustainability in the furniture and interior products sector.

Of course, the highly anticipated interzum awards will again recognise the best products on show based on functionality, quality of material(s), shape, and sustainability. As always, the gala awards ceremony on 15 May will serve as the opening of the interzum trade fair – an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the advances in the sector over the past two years.

krupka-stieghan, Recreate textiles
krupka-stieghan, Recreate textiles
Anna-Lena Wolfrum, Output Door
Anna-Lena Wolfrum, Output Door
Paul Ketz, Marshmallow
Caroline Pertsch, Zostera Stool
Tischlerei Bock, Tiny House, Mobile Spaces Area