A reliable ritual takes place every January. Shortly after the holiday festivities, the design scene pilgrimages to the Rhine for its first event of the year. This time, the 270,000 square metres of exhibition space are fully booked, with 1,300 companies participating from 50 countries, presenting 100,000 products to some 140,000 visitors. But regardless of all these figures, in which direction is the furniture industry actually moving?


“More than 20 years ago, imm cologne was the first exhibition we participated in. It has there- fore become a tradition for e15. In addition, this is still the leading trade fair in the German- speaking region and a hugely important market for us”, says Philipp Mainzer, founder & CEO of e15. Here, the Frankfurt-based company is presenting the modular sofa, KERMAN, and a new furniture range originally designed for the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

“The theme of relaxation continues to occupy us a great deal. That doesn’t just mean furniture for sleeping or sitting on, but also intermediate forms such as chaise longues, daybeds, and wing chairs”, informs Dick Spierenburg, Dutch architect and creative director of IMM. According to him, more compact and multifunctional furniture pieces are gaining ground – a response to the increasing number of smaller flats in urban environments. At the same time, flexibility is in demand. Products have to be able to adapt to different locations and to be movable, so that they can be taken from one city to another.

TRES fiat-weave Dhurrie rug collection by Nani Marquina, nanimarquina Photo © Koelnmesse

“imm cologne is where we meet almost all of our European partners and dealers. In addition, a successful trade fair is always a good start to the year”, declares Ludger Köhler, founder and CEO of Piure.

CONSTRUCTURE collection by Isa Glink, Kinnasand
PANTON CHAIR Limited edition, Vitra
Unlike Milan’s Salone del Mobile, which is flanked by countless exhibitions, presentations, and events throughout the city, imm cologne is concentrated within the exhibition grounds on the right bank of the Rhine. Exhibitors such as Cassina, Poltrona Frau, Minotti, Molteni, De Sede, Ligne Roset, and Cor inhabit the PURE design segment in halls 11 and 10.1, while Pure Editions, which is a smaller scale, curated presentation, occupies halls 2.2 and 3.2 and includes Vitra, Artek, Cappellini, and Thonet.


“On the occasion of imm cologne 2017, we are presenting three classics from the 1950s (two by Herbert Hirche and one by Paul Schneider-Esleben), which we have added to our collection. This is a good opportunity to focus on our classics and stage them in unusual fabrics”, claims Richard Lambert, founder and CEO of the company.

The fair also boasts new exhibitors this year, among them Design House Stockholm, Louis Poulsen, Nanimarquina, and Meridiani – thereby expanding its international focus with foreign exhibitors at around 70 percent. Two additional magnets complement the event: LivingKitchen – for kitchen furniture, kitchen appliances, and accessories, in halls 4.1, 4.2, and 5.2; and in Hall 3, Pure Textile – focusing on upholstery and decorative fabrics, with exhibitors such as Création Baumann and Nya Nordiska. “IMM is very important for us because here we reach many international trading partners, not only from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but also from many other European countries and from overseas”, informs Patrice Bert, Managing Director of Ligne Roset in Germany. Since 1967, the French company has revealed its novelties in Cologne rather than in Paris or Milan. While visitors attend the Salone del Mobile mainly for inspiration, imm cologne plays an important role in business terms – even if it’s not all about numbers: “We want to show perspectives and create impulses for the fair through the vision of the designers. With Featured Editions, for example, we have provided a platform where designers can express themselves with installations, not only products”, explains Spierenburg.


“Here, we are able to reach interior architects, architects, and the entire home furniture trade in a friendly, economic, market environment. We expect a strong visitor resonance at IMM in 2017, and thus the right impetus for business in the residential sector”, states Rudolf Pütz, CEO of Vitra. The Swiss-German company is presenting a limited edition of the Panton Chair in a bright, sunlight yellow.

Das Haus, in hall 2.2, provides further insight into a designer’s universe. This time round, the installation was created by Todd Bracher. With it, the New York-based industrial designer has de ned a space of calmness, indicating a much more rational and restrained direction compared to Sebastian Herkner’s sensual and decorative approach in 2016. “We try to create contrasts [by inviting different talents to design each edition] so that the discussion about living gets new impulses every year”, states Spierenburg, who is responsible for the selection of the designer and also for monitoring the realisation of their ideas.


“This fair is important because we receive direct feedback on our novelties. That flows into the completion of the shown products, before they arrive on the market. This year, our three-dimensional fabrics are far ahead with their bright colours. Another material trend is leathers sealed only with a fine wax lacquer – the resulting patina has a noble vintage character and radiates a warm look and feel”, explains Leo Lübke, CEO of COR.

This year, too, the trend towards nature continues: wood, marble, and natural stone are very present. Concrete and recycled materials also play a role. “The colour green is very evident in the fabric world”, says Spierenburg. This is a direct implementation of Pantone’s trend colours for 2017: Greenery is a yellow-green that evokes the First days of spring, in comparison with a strong grass green and a noble fir green, through to nuances of taupe and petrol. Meanwhile, black and white provide a neutral, timeless framework.


“imm cologne is the first appointment of the year for Cassina, in celebration of our 90th anniversary in 2017. We are rediscovering the identity of the Casiers Standard (1920s) container system by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand, and are presenting a preview of the 932 armchair (1960s) by Mario Bellini, as well as some of our limited edition pieces: the LC1 Pampas small armchair and the LC4 Pampas chaise longue by Le Corbusier, Jeanneret, and Perriand, each available in 400 numbered pieces, which are being launched at the fair”, informs Sara Nosrati, Head of Cassina Brand Communications.

While the fair is launching its own exhibition on smart home appliances, many young designers are going in the opposite direction – as seen in the exhibition Pure Talents Contest in Hall 3.1. “We defenitely observe two currents. On the one hand, an extreme fascination for smart home technologies; on the other, domestic environments are becoming more and more un-digitised and archaic. It’s a game of ping-pong between the two extremes”, says Spierenburg about how the increase in diversity and fragmentation relates to individual tastes and preferences.


“We are exhibiting for the fourth time in Cologne. This furniture fair is for us the most important trade fair in Germany and an absolute must for every designer. This year we are exhibiting in a larger o site area, the Meiré und Meiré Factory. The generous space allows us to show more of our collection”, says Manuel Goller, Creative Director at NEW TENDENCY.

Another orientation operates on the ‘public days’ from 20 to 22 January. Along with the Designers Market in Hall 1, IMM has invited small-scale craftspeople and manufacturers, who – unlike elsewhere in the fair – o er their goods for direct purchase. “I know that it’s important for end-users to take something home as a memoire. We are now fulfilling this opportunity, to make their experience more exciting”, remarks Spierenburg. In cooperation with Blickfang and Heimatdesign, 58 designers from the furniture and fashion fields were selected to present their works here. With makers and established brands having so far operated in separate worlds, the fascination with craftsmanship affects a mutual overlap and lends new visibility to smaller businesses.

“The fair continues to provide a holistic view of living”, summarises Spierenburg. This is good news for visitors. After all, the spectrum of living can therefore be experienced in its entirety.

imm cologne: Cologne Exhibition Centre Professionals: 16-22 January, 9am - 6pm Public: 20-22 January, 9am - 6pm (Sunday until 5pm)

FROG by Herbert Hirche, re-edition by Richard Lampert
LC4 PAMPAS chaise longue by Le Corbusier, Jeanneret, and Perriand; Cassina
BARSTOOL, New Tendency
CUSHIONS, Zuzunaga
INCA side table, Zuzunaga
Featured Editions, 2016 Photo: Koelnmesse / Ludolf Damen
SOFTRUCK, Ligne Roset
JUNGLE NOIR wallpaper, Petite Friture
GRAND CHELEM by Didier Gomez, Ligne-Roset