Let’s take a look at the special areas and themes of the last international furniture fairs in 2018. Unfortunately, many times these are exactly the areas busy visitors can’t devote themselves to – even though they’re definitely worthwhile. In the last article, we briefly reported on four fairs. Now we take a look at a special show, an award or a special area of each event.

London Design Festival (London)

The fair chose “plastic” as the material of the year in 2018, which probably stems from the fact that this material is so wonderfully diverse and can be processed in ever-better manufacturing processes to optically incredible objects. Looking to the future, of course, it is above all recycling projects that are relevant.

Weez & Merl – a young company that has been using recycling material since 2015.

Originally, Weez & Merl used its wood crafting skills and thereby found lots of interesting methods for processing recycled plastic (LDPE: Low Density Polyethylene). The goal was to prevent Great Britain from having to export a large part of the plastic waste produced outside the country in order to recycle it.

Weez & Merl have worked on several coaster projects for bars looking to reduce their waste by replacing their disposable napkins and cardboard coasters with something reusable and beautiful. (Source: weezandmerl.com)

Weez & Merl have worked on coaster projects for bars looking to reduce their waste by replacing their disposable napkins and cardboard coasters with something reusable and beautiful.

Weez & Merl wanted the material to increase in value through reuse and processing. The team presented their furniture and utensils – all in trendy marble look, as we have seen at Imm Cologne 2018 and other furniture fairs in 2018.

Charlotte Kidger is another interesting material designer based in London.

She uses a variety of traditional techniques and revises materials to enhance them. “Industrial Craft” is a project that focuses on the use of plastic waste in connection with CNC production and was presented to the public at London Design Festival.

As a by-product after the milling process the lightweight polyurethane foam dust is left in abundant volumes. As this material would only be disposed of or incinerated and landed on a landfill, it was obvious to Charlotte Kidger to dedicate herself to this niche plastic. Her approach was to find a design option that makes the problematic material useable in furniture. After intensive research she was able to process the material like wood.

Dirk Vander Kooij from the Netherlands showed the vase series “Changing Vase”.

He too has been using recycled plastic for years. His “Melting Pot” tables are still clearly recognizable as recycled products. His vases, on the other hand, are especially fascinating because they are not immediately recognizable as plastic vases. You could almost think of them as glass objects. The current organic form with homogeneous noble surface is simply impressive.

The iridescent effect in the light differs depending on the color variety of the base material. The designs by Dirk Vander Kooij have already been exhibited at several furniture fairs in 2018.

The Japanese-born designer Kodai Iwamoto also introduced a plastic project at the fair.

The question: “What happens when an old manufacturing process meets cheap and mass-produced material?” kept playing with Kodai Iwamoto‘s mind before starting this project. He experimented with cheap water pipes made of plastic, which he softened with air pressure and slow heating – until it made pretty vases.

Japanese-born designer Kodai Iwamoto also presented a plastic project at the London Design Festival 2018. (Source: kohdaiiwamoto.com)

The charm of the vases is precisely the mouse-gray material and the various forms. When you look closely, the markings of the tubes are even noticeable.

Habitare (Finland)

Next in our research of the last international furniture fairs in 2018, the theme of Habitare in Finland. “Roots”, which underlined the origin and the personality of the designs. For Habitare, the focus was on local designers and companies to present opportunities in international competition and not lose their own line and identity. Be it by the origin of the materials, the processing of the products or by sustainability and waste avoidance in resource extraction and production.

Among the furniture fairs 2018, Habitare 2018 in Finland followed the theme "Roots". (Source: habitare.messukeskus.com)

The main theme was also reflected in the booth design and program. Even “Habi-Kids” – the area for children of visitors, was designed for the topic “Roots”. In the “Caterpillar Kingdom” the kids were allowed to let off some steam.

“Roots” inspired Johanna Lahti from Design from Finland and Tero Lausala from the Association for Finnish Work to discuss Finnish design roots. In their statement, they argue that functionality is a force of nature for Finns. Because things have to work in the harsh Nordic environment. If a product doesn’t work as intended, there’s a backlash. As an example, Johanna states that in Finland it can be life-threatening if a product does not fulfill its basic function, such as a flashlight not working outside in the dark at -30 degrees. A possible explanation for why many Finnish designers put functionality in the foreground.

The theme of Habitare in Finland also captivated us in our research of the last international furniture fairs 2018. "Roots" underlined the origin and the personality of the designs. (Source: habitare.messukeskus.com)

Johanna and Tero appealed to Finnish designers and companies to be aware of their roots, yet not to shy away from the technological possibilities, but to incorporate them into their design history in order to take chances and “grow” with them.

Maison & Objet (Paris)

The supporting program of this trade fair was also impressive. It is one of our favorites among the furniture fairs 2018. A great idea were the areas “What’s New?”. These rooms present the most notable new products of the season. Renowned trend scouts and interior designers from France designed these spaces.

"What's New?" gave trade visitors an impression of the season's most notable new products at Maison & Objet 2018. (Source: maison-objet.com)

Particular emphasis was placed on making these products stand out from the crowd because they are innovative or because of the materials or manufacturing processes used to create them. Here you could quickly get a picture of the range of products, which was offered in the other halls. The rooms were divided into different themes. Responsible for this was trend scout Elizabeth Leriches. The “Share” section was an area where she presented her selection of exceptional new dishes. She also divided this into four themes.

“Evergreen” displayed a harmonious and fresh selection of fine natural materials, local products and zero-waste movement companies as well as vegan-made products.

“Summer Mix” featured dishes with ethnic themes, as well as pristine natural materials and a new interpretation of Mediterranean cuisine in a bright, sunny mix & match atmosphere.

“Sweet Heritage”, was a touch of classic elegance, often from high quality and handcrafted pieces. Also glassware, porcelain and dishes with golden accents were present here.

And finally the area “Comme un Chef”. Here was the place to find professional cooking utensils.

François Bernard has been working in the brand analysis and positioning segment for many years. He designed the area “Leisure”. Highlights of the fair’s leisure and cultural sector were shown here: remarkable new stationery, gifts, children’s products and accessories were presented in a 150 m² area.

François Bernard designed the "Leisure" area. Here the highlights from the leisure and cultural sector of the fair were shown. (Source: maison-objet.com)

François Delclaux dedicated himself to the area “Decor”. Small furniture has been shown here, for François Delclaux says they are irreplaceable when it comes to defining the tone of an interior. His illustration was divided into four moods, each with a radically different atmosphere in four interconnected Russian puppet rooms.

It was all about beautiful things that influenced the interior very much: mirrors, vases and crafted decorative objects – each in the materials and colors that would be associated with the moods. The three of them then went to the area “Care”.

It was an oasis of well-being and the opportunity to recharge your batteries. Experts trio Elizabeth Leriche, François Bernard and François Delclaux created a calming and protective space: stuffed animals, desirable jewelry, unique candles and sustainable bedding were products that made you relax and think.

Feria Habitat Valencia (Spain)

The Habitat had an impressive portfolio of events to offer. Here the trade, as well as architects and interior designers were clearly the target group. There was also the Valencia Disseny Week (VDW), which focused on the local population, visitors and end customers with many program points in Valencia City. But there was much to discover and learn for the interested visitor in the context and space of the exhibition center.

The impressive stand of Mario Ruiz at the Feria Habitat Valencia 2018. (Source: marioruiz.es)

The impressive stand of designer Mario Ruiz at the Feria Habitat Valencia 2018.

As with the previous furniture fairs in 2018, the calendar of events was packed with exhibitions, lectures and discussions on various industry-related topics. There were also workshops on the integration of e-commerce platforms, on contract design, as well as innovative techniques, such as 3D printing. An impressive work was the exhibition of designer Mario Ruiz from Alicante, who is also the winner of the national design award 2016.

His furniture designs inspired us instantly and the extremely large presentation made the stand a magnet for visitors at Habitat. In this exhibition with its 50 projects each piece speaks for itself. The designer’s works have been shown in exhibitions throughout Europe and Japan, and have been honored with more than 40 major prizes.

Which program or event of the furniture fairs in 2018 has helped you the most?

It’s worthwhile to allow time for the supporting program during trade fair visits and not just visit the trend areas, the theme line or the design week events. Immerse yourself in the topics that are important to your work and your business.

Study the program, and take the opportunity of such a trade show to learn more about technical innovation, design innovation, and industry-internal changes and trends. You benefit from first-hand information from manufacturers, designers and industry specialists. What are you looking at in the event calendar? Do you think that we neglected an issue at these furniture fairs in 2018? Please let us know using the contact form. Also make sure to check out the e-book about the interior trends in 2019!

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