Interzum 2019 expo eyes how consumers engage Industry 4.0 furniture production
Digitalization Piazza at interzum will focus on consumers
COLOGNE, Germany - Industry 4.0 has not only radically changed the furniture manufacturing, but also the expectations of the customers and how they interact with businesses. interzum 2019, May 21-24 in Cologne, explores the trend in its Digital Piazza.
"Digitalization is one of the key issues of our time,” says Maik Fischer, Director of interzum. “So it goes without saying that we are devoting more attention to this trend. At this piazza, we are seeking to provide a combination of promising ideas and examples of best practice.”
Maik Fischer views digitalization as an opportunity to make improvements. He acknowledges that consumer requirements have become more demanding in many respects. Sustainability, individualization, comfortable living and convenient shopping – these are just a few of the big areas where digital solutions would help companies to fulfill these requirements.
“We are not presenting digitalization as an end in itself. It is a tool that makes it possible to cater for customer requirements more effectively,” Maik Fischer explains.
The Digitalization piazza was designed in partnership with DC digitalconnection, an agency that specializes in digital transformation. For Tanja Kruse Brandão from DC digitalconnection, it was particularly important to capture the diversity of the topic and the specific ways it can benefit customers.
Tanja Kruse Brandão from DC digitalconnection
“Digitalization is multifaceted,” Brandão says. “The exhibitors at the piazza present their digital solutions, which are responses to international consumer trends. As well as physical products, there are also new business models and solutions that use digital tools to improve the design, production or sales process.”
The key concept here is ‘service design’, which provides the outline for this special exhibition. The fourth industrial revolution has not only radically changed the opportunities of the industry and trade, but also the expectations of the customers. In the digital age, customers are better informed than ever before. They can access product information, prices and suppliers at any time and in any place.
This consumer behavior is associated with a growing need for real social connection, for sustainability and for experiencing the way things feel to the touch. The special exhibition entitled ‘Digitalization: Focus on Consumer Trends!’ uses three areas, each representing a global consumer trend, to show interior designers, furniture manufacturers and retailers how they can fulfill customer requirements. Each of the sections highlights certain aspects of these trends.  The first area focuses on conscious, sustainable living. The topics here include consumer expectations of solutions for smaller living spaces, furniture hire and sharing models for living areas and workspaces, as well as sustainable production, utilization and recycling.
A trend that has been challenging the furniture industry for some time is consumer demand for the individualization of living spaces and the personalization of furniture. In this respect, digitalization is opening up a new level of freedom in terms of design options. The key aspects of this sub-trend are modular furniture concepts, sensors for individualized products and new experiences for the processes of choosing and producing furnishings.
The third sub-trend addresses digitalization in the context of furniture and accessories. For some time now, robots have been performing routine domestic tasks such as vacuum cleaning and mowing the lawn. Sensors and smart home technology can control a range of functions within the home in order to save energy, improve security and make life easier. Sensors and data that is processed using artificial intelligence can be used in order to offer custom solutions for the home environment.
“Our aim is to work together with the exhibiting companies to show how the digital revolution can be harnessed in order to meet customer expectations – not just in terms of product development but also in the areas of production, sales and recycling,” says Tanja Kruse Brandão. 
Koelnmesse – Global Competence in Furniture, Interiors and Design: Koelnmesse is the world’s top trade fair organiser for the areas of furnishing, living and lifestyle. At the trade fair hub of Cologne, the leading international fair imm cologne as well as the trade fair formats of LivingKitchen, ORGATEC, spoga+gafa, interzum and Kind + Jugend rank among the internationally renowned and established industry meeting places.

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.