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Spoga portrays a lifestyle

Trend-driven garden and leisure trade show almost sold out

Spoga 2007, to be held Sept. 2–4 in Cologne, Germany, promises to be an even bigger and better show than in years past. Once known as a more sporting-related market, the trade show has evolved into a lifestyle garden show, covering all aspects of the outdoor segment, from casual furniture and garden accessories to barbecues and more.

"Spoga has had a sort of identity crisis," said Darrin Stern, U.S. project manager of Spoga. "But in the long term, we will further push it into a lifestyle show."

Featuring more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space across four buildings and eight floors, many of the halls have been sold out with 1,320 companies exhibiting from 48 countries.

"Barbecue is going to be strong this year," said Mette Petersen, president and managing director of Koelnmesse. "It is a sold out segment."

Another strong product group will once again be presented by furniture suppliers — around 580 companies will show new products and innovations in outdoor living.

Stern and Petersen said buyers are attracted to Spoga for several reasons.

One, retailers are able to access product not available to competitors due in large part to the true international flavor of the show. Second, attendees are able to get a head start on trends, "a three-year jump," in many cases, Stern said. Lastly, the quality level of the products continues to improve, with a push toward high-end residential

furnishings.

Some key trends to look for at Spoga include:

Wood and steel — Outdoor furniture manufacturers are presenting collections elevating style to an art form, with a dominating combination of wood and steel. Teak, robinia and beech woods are specifically on trend.

Black and white — Experimenting with strong contrasts are key with black and white taking to the outdoor stage.

Lounges — The more the borders blur between indoors and out, the stronger the inroads made by deep seating, cozy sofas, couches and armchairs are for the back yard.

Light decoration — Candles and torches continue to be popular accessories, but expect more innovations in the lighting category, from light globes to outdoor lamps.

Outdoor cooking — Outdoor kitchens aren't shying away from the limelight as manufacturers offer flexible kitchenettes that include storage space, grills and more. Barbecues also are developing into multi-functional tools with fast burners, grills and smokers.

For more information on Spoga 2007, visit www.spoga-cologne.com.

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