In February, Perspective travelled to Frankfurt for Ambiente 2019. The fair showcases the very best in consumer goods and is one of the most highly anticipated industry events of the year
Taking place from February 8 to 12, this year's edition was attended by more than 136,000 visitors from 166 countries, and featured 4,451 exhibitors. Ambiente is known as the largest international consumer fair for products – exhibiting everything from dining, cooking and household items to furnishings, ornaments, gifts, jewellery and fashion accessories.
The five-day affair also offered visitors a range of design events and programmes, including presentations and award ceremonies, as well as special exhibitions. Here are Perspective's highlights and favourite picks from Ambiente 2019.
KITSCH IS GOOD
My first designer-led tour of the fair is guided by designer and professor of product design at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Hans Maier-Aichen. From the outset, he insists that, despite its negative connotations, "kitsch shouldn't be a bad word". There was an abundance of examples of kitsch on display in each of the fair categories, ranging from the tacky to the marvellous. But none did it quite like German homeware and furnishing brand, KARE. Showcasing more than 1,000 new products at Ambiente, KARE included a little bit of everything (kitsch and all). The brand's exhibition space was jam-packed with large retro furnishings, glamorous lighting pieces, smaller whimsical decorative items and plenty of colour. A particular favourite bit of kitsch was a human-rabbit figure, designed by Australian artist duo Gillie and Marc.
PRETTY IN PORCELAIN
Porcelain once again featured prominently at the fair, with devoted areas for its use. A noticeable trend at the fair was its use and success outside the traditional dining arena. Fürstenberg and Studio Besau-Marguerre were honoured with a German Design Award (Gold) for their Plisago porcelain collection (pictured below) and collaboration. The range details the refinement that which porcelain can add to modern interior. Villeroy & Boch also showcased its Manufacture table-top collection made of premium porcelain, including a slate look and a black-and-white colour scheme.
LET IT HANG
A number of furnishing exhibitors displayed a particular fascination with hanging and suspended seating. From outdoor resort-style options, to simple woven nets, hanging chairs featured big at Ambiente. Exhibiting for the second time at the fair, Belgium manufacturer Cacoonworld showcased its series of indoor-outdoor suspended seats, hammocks and swing chairs. This year the brand presented its signature Cacoon (inspired by the shape of a weaver bird's nest) available now as a two-seater for communal hanging.
Japanese studio Heian Shindo Kogyo has a long-established history in developing products using tension rods. The DRAW A LINE collection builds on this history in a contemporary, minimalist fashion. Each rod is like drawing a simple line either vertically or horizontally within a room and lights, shelves or hooks can be added for extra storage. Each line can be customised to suit the user's needs and aesthetics.
Following an expansion in 2018, VertiPlants changed its name to Verti Copenhagen. The brand still focuses on high-quality Scandinavian design and values functionality, simplicity and minimalism. The Verti Copenhagen idea is a simple wall-mounted container/jar with a streamlined design that can be used for different purposes. Combine one or more containers with other Verti products, including the icon VertiPlants, the newly released VertiLights and other small storage components, to create a customised wall feature.
Newly established Stockholm-based design studio Aska presented its shelving products in the Talents section of Ambiente. Aska's Oval series is created from perforated sheet metal and minimalist Scandinavian style transforms it into a versatile curved shelf that can be mounted both horizontally and vertically.
Exhibiting at Ambiente for the second year in a row, Taiwanese brand DesignBite presented an all- new kitchen range inspired by Nordic design. The collection features cutting boards, a knife rack, a salad spoon and even salt and pepper grinders. Natural materials used in the collection include oiled oak and cork and add a level of tactility to the products. Products were presented on the brand's signature Hexagon rail system, one of the brand's wall-mounted shelving solutions for limited spaces.
Polish brand Gie El was founded by architecture couple Maria and Jacek Rypula. The pair design and create furniture from the highest quality wood, natural materials, upcycled metals and glass. Jacek originally designed Organique, a high-quality wooden bed for himself and it was the highlight of the brand's Ambiente display. The bed features eight layers of hand-waxed, brown oak boards and each one is individually and meticulously crafted with its soft lines, perfected details and unique character.
Germany-based GUAXS creates sculptural glass, wood and metal pieces designed to influence the atmosphere of a room and the mood of those within it. Made from sustainable materials and manufactured by hand, each collection draws its inspiration from forms of nature, cultural artefacts, personal experiences and travel. The GUAXS Spring/Summer 2019 collection features blue tinted vases and candle holders crafted using traditional mouth-blowing techniques.
The Terra Light series, by Lauren Van Driessche, is the designer's first collection presented in collaboration with Serax. This terracotta collection started as a birthday gift idea for Driessche's partner. The series has now grown into a playful collection of both table and floor lamps, with plans for expansion. The lamps feature an adjustable sphere on an empty cylinder, and can shine its light in any direction. The warm terracotta material and finish provide an artisanal look, while the white interior of the sphere optimises the reflection of the light.
Established in 1997, the Notre Monde brand is the result of artist and designer Dawn Sweitzer's desire to of create one-of-a-kind objects inspired by travel, nature and the beauty of everyday life. The collection of hand- finished trays, tables, bar carts and mirrors in the 2019 catalogue is a continuing collaboration with Belgian label Ethnicraft.
The Notre Monde tray trays are handmade with a screen-painting technique and are available in a generous array of styles and colours. We love the Half Moon tray collection for its strong linear patterns set against delicate gold leaves and brass rim (pictured top right). Tables that are functional as well as decorative can be customised with colour, pattern, type and tray combinations to create products perfectly suited to any space.
A favourite at the fair was Joseph Joseph's innovative compact waste container for small kitchens and smarter waste storage. Suitable for small Hong Kong apartments, the Compo waste caddy can fit into cramped spaces. Designed to make collecting food scraps easier (and doable), it features an adjustable air vent in the lid to reduce odour, a bracket for mounting onto cupboards and walls, and can hold up to 4 litres of scraps.