• Cindy W. Hodnett

Germany’s Ambiente fair shows international flair

U.S. is event's Partner Country this year

FRANKFURT, Germany — More than 4,800 international exhibitors, including 100 from the United States, are introducing product at the 2015 Ambiente trade fair here, a record number according to Messe Frankfurt officials.

“Ambiente has never been more international,” said Detlef Braun, a member of the executive board of Messe Frankfurt, the fair’s organizer. “The high propensity to consume in Germany and the anticipated recovery of the world economy are positive omens for the coming fair and a successful business year in 2015.”

The United States is a key focal point for 2015 Ambiente. As partner country for this year’s fair, the U.S. was featured in a Mayhem Meets Manhattan music and dinner program for the opening night gala and will also be recognized on Monday during Partner Country Day. Additionally, several participating U.S. companies are hosting giveaways and special activities during the fair.

“The U.S. is characterized by an incredibly exciting range of different styles,” said Nicolette Naumann, vice president of Ambiente-Tendence.

Seashore Galore, an installation by New York-based industrial designer Scott Henderson, is on display at the fair and features an ocean backdrop, oversized Adirondack chairs and a variety of products made by U.S. companies. Henderson said his goal with the installation was to create something unexpected.

“Initially, I thought I would do something contemporary because I think people are a little jaded by technology,” Henderson said. “Then this idea came about from thinking about the show as a consumers goods show. What better way to represent the U.S. than to include products distributed by U.S. companies?

“This space is four meters high, so I needed something that would capture attention,” Henderson said. “The Adirondack chair is uniquely American, less expected than some of the other things I might have considered and iconic. A lot of people think of the West when they think about the U.S., but America is actually something like 15th in world in terms of coastline, so I decided to include the coastline backdrop. All of the representatives from the U.S. consulate said they thought the exhibit did America proud, and that was my goal along with creating something that clicks with everyone that walks by the exhibit.”

Several of the companies represented have a Brooklyn connection, another intentional inclusion by Henderson.

“Brooklyn has arrived internationally,” Henderson said. “There is a big cool factor for Brooklyn happening right now. I think U.S. designers are influenced by so many different areas and that the best American design reflects the opportunity to break into new areas. There is still a long way to go though, because a lot of U.S. companies don’t see the value in creating proprietary designs. I love seeing companies in the U.S. doing something with a product that forces everyone else to catch up.”

Jessica Herrera, a student at the Academy of the Arts University in San Francisco, took part in Ambiente’s Talents design competition and met several manufacturers interested in her design for a combination dining-desk table.

“My sister was the Inspiration for this table,” Herrera said. “She has a small apartment in Brooklyn and doesn't have room for both a dining table and a desk. This functions as both and offers storage as well.”

Herrera said her prototype is made from maple, but that the piece could be made from pine or birch to reach a lower price point. She also designed a modular shelving unit and a side table-storage bench combination.

“Some changes need to be made, but I think this could be produced for a $400-$600 price point,” she said.

At the Ambiente Solutions exhibit, curator Sebastian Bergne said he was enthusiastic about introducing fair visitors to new creative concepts.

“The Solutions area is all about ideas,” Bergene said. “It is about trying to find intelligent solutions to problems. The companies represented here are making a lot of effort to come up with another way of doing things and they are pushing things forward for the entire industry.”

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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