Next week, the world's leading furnishing show imm cologne opens its doors in Cologne. Right at the start of the new year, the international furniture industry will be presenting the latest trends and innovations for the coming season. From 14 to 20 January, a total of more than 1,250 companies from 50 countries will be showing more than 100,000 pieces of furniture and other furnishing items with huge innovation potential: about one third of these exhibits are totally new developments. Trade visitors, consumers and the media can thus look forward to a comprehensive overview of the latest ideas for furniture and interiors. A preview of the most important trends and tendencies.

When people go to a furniture store, they don't allow themselves to be taken in by the appearance of a certain piece. Today's buyer expects even inexpensive products to be good quality, just as he doesn't always take it for granted that more expensive pieces will be. When it comes to furniture, good quality means good design, good materials and good workmanship – in the right combination.

One megatrend that is continuing to conquer interior worlds is nature – one of the key themes right now. This passion for all things "green" is being reflected not only in decorations and accessories but in the choice of the materials used for the furniture as well. Due to this strong demand, manufacturers are very definitely focusing on the emotions associated with the phenomenon. Natural, untreated, authentic, honest – those are the buzzwords right now. And by the way: one-offs from nature are always unique and individual. No oak table is exactly like another. Its owner has something exceptional and special that comes with a genuine growth story – and not a synthetic, mass-produced industrial product. The increasing popularity of natural materials is expressing itself in the form of solid wood furniture, veneered furniture and covering materials like leather, wool felt and animal skins. Glass is replacing plastic as the preferred material for fronts, and a rough-cut finish – a very natural and always matt surface – is still a popular choice for solid wood items.

Upholstered furniture is smaller than in previous years. It is often used in a freestanding position away from the wall – and is thus just as attractive from the back as it is from the front. Extra functions are here to stay as well. Folding a certain element down and changing its original purpose isn’t just fun, it makes good sense too. The design vocabulary is more accommodating. Soft, rounded corners and edges are bang up-to-date and give upholstered furniture an inviting, harmonious look.

In the bed segment, the "boxspring" beds common in the US are becoming increasingly widespread in these parts too. The benefit: the double-storey mattresses make the beds higher – and thus easier to get into. Familiar from air-conditioned hotels, the soft and comfy beds need a well-ventilated room when used in a home setting as well.

Wall units have become standard. Individually configurable highboards, lowboards or display cabinets can provide the right solution for all tastes and storage space requirements. And if those requirements change, the units can simply be reconfigured or added to. They are also the traditional location for flatscreen televisions. Contemporary wall units are not very deep and thus help create an impression of spaciousness.

Colours can work miracles. Whether we notice them consciously or sense them subconsciously, we are surrounded by colours all the time. The desire for loud shades has not reached its peak yet. As a result, vibrant plain colours are expected for the coming season. Blue – most people's favourite colour – is the season's self-confident newcomer. Everybody associates certain colours with certain feelings and attributes. Accordingly, the furniture currently on the market is characterised by a wide variety of shades. Light colours have a cheerful and elegant effect, medium-depth shades look lively and optimistic, dark colours tend to come across as respectable and rather conservative.

White will still be used for furniture but is on the retreat. In many cases, including kitchen furnishings, white is being replaced by grey. Of the countless shades of grey listed in contemporary colour dictionaries, it is first and foremost cool hues mixed with black that are conquering the furniture world.

Whether they feature subtle stripes, sharp points, floral, abstract or geometric designs – patterns are becoming popular for covering fabrics. Manufacturers are increasingly bringing out ornamental motifs that evoke the paintings of Gustav Klimt. But whatever fabric the customer opts for – a pleasant touch and feel is essential. Textiles are fingered, stroked and snuggled up to. We want what we touch to feel good – otherwise it doesn't stand a chance.

Oak, in all its variants, is popping up all over the place and being used for tables, beds, cabinets and floors. These days those in the know refer to its different varieties as knotty oak, bog oak, red oak, smoked oak, or oak heartwood. Oak is widely regarded as one of the most valuable and popular deciduous woods of all. Walnut is also maintaining its popularity and is always an elegant choice. All in all, furniture that uses domestic wood is becoming more important to buyers. The combination of lacquer and real wood – whether solid or in the form of veneers – is very popular for storage furniture and turns any item into an individual one-off.

LED lighting technology has finally reached market maturity. If the miraculous little lights can't be ordered directly with the furniture, they are available from any specialist dealer. LED light sources can be used for the targeted illumination of work areas and, thanks to colour changers, can have a favourable impact on the interior ambiance as well. All without using a great deal of electricity.

Source: Association of the German Furniture Industry (Verband der Deutschen Möbelindustrie, VDM)

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