Karen Armour of Hafele shows a "bachelor pad" set up to look like a high-rise apartment in Chicago, with a neat pod that has stuff popping up and down to entertain and then to sleep.

Helen Kuhl, editorial director of CWB and Wood & Wood Products, hit the floor running at Interzum 2009, a leading international supplier tradeshow, to bring ISWonline readers the scoop on industry-changing innovations being unveiled. The videos and her story give a glimpse into functional and decorative hardware trends.

COLOGNE, GERMANY In hardware, trends continued to play upon what has been developed in the past few years. European companies show a lot of sliding doors in all shapes and sizes. European apartments and homes can be small, so space can be an issue. Often, it’s more appealing to have doors that move from side-to-side rather than swinging out, which requires more space. They are used in kitchen settings, home offices, closets, entertainment centers, curio cabinets – virtually everywhere.

And it’s not just doors that slide. Häfele displayed a lot of cabinetry that will slide from side to side — with a choice of mountings in the ceiling, on the wall or on the floor. High-end mechanisms make it possible to easily move even a heavy cabinet.

Of course, movement doesn’t have to be done manually. Manufacturers were all showing various forms of automatic electronic movement. It’s the “handles-free” casework where instead of using a knob or pull, one simply touches the cabinet (or door or overhead lifting door) and it opens electronically. These systems are equipped with safety devices so that the movement will stop if there is something (like a hand or a head) in the way.

Click above to see Blum's brand-new Aventos equipped with an electronic Servo drive for automatic opening in action.

Also, as in past years, the dampening or soft-close mechanisms are shown in everything. Virtually anything that opens will now close softly. Blum introduced at Interzum its new hinge with integrated soft-close, which should be available to the US market early next year.

On the decorative side, for the European-style metal drawer boxes, the sides are getting a lot of attention and becoming customizable. Users now are able to personalize their drawer sides by utilizing various inserts to suit their customers’ décor preferences, with some of the looks shown ranging from leather to imprinted glass to wood. Drawers also are being introduced with bottoms and interior organizing elements that all match in color for a more uniform look. And black is said to be very popular for drawer bottoms, sides and interior fittings.

LED lights are another huge trend. Shown two years ago, they are taking over the lighting now, with halogen and fluorescents going by the wayside. They are cooler, take less energy and come in different colors – so they are environmentally appealing, functional and offer numerous design possibilities. Hettich’s booth showed a variety of lighting ideas in cabinets and shelves, and it also had an avant-garde showcase featuring four pods with various lighting effects just to dramatize the fact that lighting has an effect on the emotions.

Click above to see a demonstration at the Hettich booth a -- it's their Kitchen of the Future concept 2015, which is designed to look ahead at what a really high-tech kitchen could look like. It has neat stuff popping up and down.

There is always plenty to see at Interzum!

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