Woodbender IMM Cologne Feedback

05 February 2014

Woodbender recently returned from exhibiting at IMM Cologne, an annual event which hosts Europe's leading furniture designers and manufacturers. It was a privilege to represent South Africa along with three other South African manufacturers; we were exceptionally proud to exhibit Woodbender's proudly South African product.

The show, inconceivable in South African terms, consists of 11 halls, the majority of which were multiple stories.

"As a South African exhibitor, exhibiting for the first time on a show of the scale and standard of IMM, it was an opportunity to learn first-hand about the new market and to see the directions in which the world leaders are taking furniture design and manufacture," says Woodbender director Shirley Mast. "There were interesting differences in European market preferences in terms of furniture size and colour. Europeans prefer and require, for space reasons, smaller furniture where as South Africans choose furniture that is larger in terms of footprint and seat. The colour preferences of the furniture also differ between the markets with Europe preferring light timber finishes whilst the South Africans largely go for the darker Walnuts, Mahoganies and ebonies".

The level of perfection and attention to detail was incredible. The upholstery was simple and used in a way to emphasise the furniture. There were no patterns or prints used only subtle textures. Interest is created through using accent colours on details such as buttons, stitching and piping. Stitching was used decoratively, for example on sofa panels, while mock pleating was used and this line component highlighted the overall design of the piece. There was a popular tendency towards strapping and combining strapping with upholstered cushions.

The colours confirmed the Dulux 2014 forecast and consisted of dirty pastel blues, greens mustards and apricots, acid yellow, purple and blue as well as warm neutrals, beiges and grey with copper still popular as well as black and white. The furniture colour mix was simple, if the timber wasn't natural it was painted a solid colour or the two were combined.

A word Woodbender uses to describe everything at IMM Cologne is "delicate." Furniture trends were in line with the market needs of small compact delicate furniture. The lines are thin and give even solid wooden pieces a lightness and airiness to them. There were interesting interpretations of the carver chair whereby the arms are either connected to the backrest or the seat but not both. A gap is created between arm and the backrest/seat. Bench seating was spotted as becoming ever more popular specifically the benches with backrests and often arms as well. There was also attention drawn to tabling and the detail on the table tops and legs. Tables are generally neglected pieces in terms of design; however the opportunities to be creative are huge.

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