The Real Deal

April 2019

On the 14 February, a relevant date for lovers and design innovators alike, Interzum held a press conference at the Future Lab in Zurich to get everyone’s blood pumping. The event announced details of the 60th edition of the international trade fair, which will take place from 21-24 May. Interzum is the world’s largest trade fair for interior design and furniture production and aims to maintain its promise of exhibiting, connecting and encouraging the future of interior design production.

More than 1,700 exhibitors from 56 countries will once again transform Cologne during Interzum, with themed areas showcasing digital materials and innovative techniques. It will be an opportunity to explore accompanying presentations on material characteristics, their applications and product life cycles. This year, the Interzum team is emphasising features that extend beyond exhibitor displays, ones that will surely be reflected in the future collections of furniture manufacturers. A real reason to pay attention to what goes on at the event.

The fair, which will be divided into four themed zones, or piazzas, continues to focus on radical production innovation, from the micro to macro levels of design and living. Dr. Gerd Wolfram, who designed the Digitalisation Piazza, understands that the digitalisation of our private and public spaces continues to drastically change the trade, but at the same time opens up exciting new opportunities in the sector of conscious, sustainable living. Architect Christian Harbeke, with the Mobile Spaces Piazza he designed, is looking less at mobile living spaces, and thinking more about our comfort in mobility, like the well-known flagship ICE or TGV trains. How can sustainable travel also be comfortable and luxurious? Of course, mobile living also makes us think about micro living, which will be another of the piazzas at Interzum. Under the title Tiny Spaces and designed by architect Dr. Krista Blassy, the question that this theme addresses is how higher living comfort can also be realised in small spaces. How can we push the envelope and design in a more flexible, system-oriented way? The fourth and arguably most interesting piazza is the one entitled Disruptive Materials, designed by Dr. Sascha Peters.

Urine Tiles © Sinae Kim

Across the discipline, young and independent designers are experimenting with materials in an attempt to address what seems to be an ongoing material upheaval. We’ve been told since the 1970s that we should reduce, reuse and recycle, yet still, it seems that it’s a habit we haven’t fully adopted. This is why increasingly (and this is a trend worth encouraging) designers are teaming up with large-scale production industries to experiment with their waste, try to re-think their current production systems or think about more sustainable ways of production. The Disruptive Materials Piazza wants to address this, but as the name suggests, it also aims to disrupt. This means that rather than looking at the hi-tech aspects, the piazza is keen on underlining designers who are reviving the transference of craft techniques, which are focused on locally available natural resources.

MIT and Steelcase's newly developed 3D printing process for furniture, © Steelcase

Alongside the fair, the Interzum awards will look to appreciate the best products on show based on material quality, functionality, form, and of course, sustainability. Far from being a prize-giving exercise, these awards help adjust the lens through which both visitors and professionals regard the products and systems on display. Ultimately they acknowledge the advances that have been made in the product design sector while highlighting what steps still need to be made in the future.

Interzum, Koelnmesse, Cologne, 21-24 May,

Wiggy and dressing table, © Moorwerk Jan Christian Schulz
NIO Eve steering wheel concept © Eve
Karuun shine veneer, © Out for Space GmbH
Milk Stool by Chip(s) Board, © Chip(s) Board
This article appeared in DAM72. Order your personal copy.