Home & living

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 3, 2015.



AMBIENTE, the world’s leading consumer goods trade fair, is set to return next year from Feb 12 to Feb 16 at Frankfurt, Germany. Organised by Messe Frankfurt, a worldwide leader in organising trade fairs, Ambiente presents a truly varied and comprehensive selection of goods spanning a wide range of categories.

There are products for the table and kitchen, furnishing and home accessories, as well as gift items, jewellery, watches, leather goods, beauty and wellness items, and interior design concepts. These are divided into three main product areas: Dining, Living and Giving, spread over 328,400 sq m of exhibition space.

Last year saw more than 4,800 exhibitors from 95 countries displaying new wares, and over 135,000 visitors thronged the halls seeking to ink business deals and find design inspiration. Ambiente is the most important platform outside of China for high-volume trade, and it has also become a hotspot for contract business.

The 2016 edition promises to be just as expansive in the list of exhibitors and product line-up. What’s more, the partner country for the fair next year is none other than design powerhouse Italy. Part of the partner-country programme is an extensive presentation of products of particularly high-quality design. The 2016 special exhibition will be curated and conceptualised by Italian designer Paola Navone, a renowned figure in Italy’s design scene.

Recognising that consumers the world over are attaching greater importance to sustainable products, next year’s fair will see the introduction of the Ethical Style Guide, which will enable trade visitors to easily pick out which of the mind-boggling array of exhibitors and products operate in accordance with the ethical and/or ecological criteria in categories such as eco-friendly materials, fair and social production, re/upcycling design and handmade manufacturing.

But it’s not just established names and designers that are featured at the fair — there is a platform for new and emerging designers and design studios in the fields of product and furniture design under Ambiente’s sponsorship programmes. Chosen candidates get to present their designs and prototypes in the “Talents” showcase to the international trade and professional public — in 2015, 32 designers from 15 countries were chosen to participate.

A not-to-be-missed section is the “Solutions” segment. Curated by London-based product designer Sebastian Bergne, it will showcase innovative and ingenious ideas from Ambiente’s exhibitors with a focus on dining, kitchen and household items. This section is sure to awe and inspire.

Products aside, the fair also serves as a barometer of current homeware trends. Ambiente’s “Trend” show is as much eagerly anticipated as the fair itself, and the organisers have worked with acclaimed trend bureau bora.herke.palmisano to identify four trend scenarios for 2016: artisanal gardening, futuristic couture, functional simplicity and composing freedom. Look out for the special exhibit illustrating these trends.

Furthermore, several awards honouring products that skilfully combine good aesthetics with function will be presented at the fair: the Design Plus Award, the German Design Award and the Kitchen Innovation Award. There will even be the tongue-in-cheek Plagiarius booby prize for product piracy.

Visitors can look forward to a wide variety of events over the course of the fair, which is shaping up to be yet another exciting instalment.

For more information about Ambiente, visit ambiente.messefrankfurt.com.