One of my favourite moments at the IMM Cologne fair was checking out the little leather elephants in a long, linear display case that wrapped the inside of the De Sede booth. At the centre was the original – the buttery, tanned leather elephant that designer Alfredo Häberli found in a flea market and inspired his new collection of seating for the Swiss manufacturer. The thick leather upholstery of DS-373 seemed dark and heavy but also had a whimsical touch.
Whimsy and elegance came together again and again at Cologne, whether at the fair itself or its offsite anchor, Design Post. Brands like Menu and Pulpo showed off beautiful, thoughtful new home accessories, while Linteloo and New Tendency added a burst of colour to furniture and shelving. The work of young professionals, displayed in the schools section and at the Pure Talents Contest, showed a curiosity with form and functionality that was fresh and new. If you need proof, see Aurelie Hoegy’s Dancers chairs.
Central to it all was the Das Haus installation, where Sebastian Herkner awed the crowds with his creativity. Every surface – from the Rosenthal-made beaded-porcelain screen to the soap bars that clad the bathroom walls – was an exercise in novel thinking about what the home can be. Encircled in soft drapes, and featuring many entrances, the installation also made a statement about embracing visitors – a message that spoke to the refugee crises in Europe and elsewhere.
If one trend stood out above the others, it was colour: marbled wood tables, multi-hued shelving and vibrant textiles showed that exhibitors are moving away from the safe neutrals of years past and embracing happy tones once again. Spain’s Kettal introduced a rich new palette of upholstery for its outdoor furniture designed by Doshi Levien, and Montana, a new Danish company, displayed modular storage in a variety of citrus-y hues.