By Kenn Busch

Bold horizontal heartwood woodgrains were everywhere, in a variety of materials.
Here, in 3-D laminates. 

The International Furniture Fair in Cologne is arguably the most important residential furniture fair in the world, and a venue where the most influential designers and furniture producers set the tone for the future of the global furniture industry. Each year the event explores emerging themes and trends.

(For an even more thorough survey of the world’s most innovative materials and designs, don’t miss the biannual Interzum fair, also in Cologne, this May 25-28.)

High-gloss lacquered MDF and teak float the Alno
Group’s award-winning Marecucina concept kitchen.

Hera are some quick observations from throughout the IMM show floors:
• The dominance of all-white environments has eased from recent years.
• Several manufacturers showed white HPL tops with very silky, smooth finishes — not unlike solid surface, but warmer to the touch.
• High gloss continues to grow, in both laminates (3DL and acrylic) and lacquer finishes.
• Back-painted glass was less prevalent than in recent years.
• Warm browns and taupe are on the rise.
• Strong heartwood veneer cuts and similar laminate designs were EVERYWHERE.
• Lightweight panels are finding their way into more applications, and are being fitted with integral cable management systems and other functional features.
• Push-to-open and soft-close hardware is finding its way into lower-priced furniture.
• LED accent lighting is quite the rage; frankly, often a bit overdone

Matching surfacing materials and substrates to specific applications is both a science and an art. As the pictures highlight, here were a few of the event’s winning combinations, concepts and executions.

Kenn Busch publishes the web site, a practical resource for architects and interior designers.

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