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Form follows function – the Ambiente 2014 in Frankfurt

Even before the show started, the figures for the Ambiente were impressive – over 4,600 exhibitors from 81 countries and around 144,000 visitors from 161 nations expected. But it really takes a personal visit to appreciate the full extent of this show, the world’s biggest consumer goods show. The clever-storage editorial team spent the better part of a day at the Ambiente and our report sums up our impressions. We talked to old-established exhibitors as well as first-timers and upcoming designers. And, of course, we looked at, touched and tried products – dozens of them, from Le Creuset, Bialetti and koziol to Mukul Goya and Riedel...

From the first hall to the last, on all sides there was a flood of impressions, the wonderful and varied designs and the creative reinterpretation of traditional products. Sometimes we were impressed by the simplicity of the geneiality of some designs. The trade show organisers allocated exhibitors to three broad areas – Dining, Giving and Living – where they found the perfect platform to present their brands and products, innovations and designs. This year, Japan was the first partner country from outside Europe to show a cross-section of its many consumer goods in Frankfurt. Special presentations and events gave visitors a wide-ranging view of the country’s multi-facetted culture and centuries-old understanding of form and aesthetics.

Award-winning designs

In addition to the presentation of countless new products and patented inventions, there were the award-winning products of the Design Plus Award 2014. The winners – 30 products and product ranges from 24 companies from ten countries – which had been singled out by the panel of international experts, were on show in a special exhibition at the heart of the trade show complex. This year’s winners included products that have already been featured on this website, like Hailo’s shimmering AluBag waste collector or the innovative TEA-JAY iced-tea system from blomus.

Also worth mentioning is the success of Kesseböhmer GmbH in this year’s German Design Awards, which were also announced at the Ambiente in Frankfurt. The company’s FREEflap lifter and the CONVOY Premio, both nominated by an independent jury, convinced the expert jury by their brilliant combination of minimal space requirements and highest durability. FREEflap won an award for special design quality in the Home Interior category.

Trend to naturalism!

One clear trend in the Dining section was the increasing use of natural materials such as cork and wood in many applications, from knife handles and magnetic strips to cutting boards. Light, fresh shades of green have been a key colour in kitchens for decades. It was visible again and again. From Le Creuset’s set of heat-resistant ceramic oven dishes to koziol’s plastic pizza cutters, green is to be seen in at least one product range of most of the manufacturers on the market.

A new look for tried and trusted products

While the Ambiente was full of new ideas and innovations, there were also many tried-and-trusted products and designs from leading manufacturers like KitchenAid. Some of them had been given a new look in vivid colours or chrome plating, others were emphatically traditional like the spice and coffee mills from Zassenhaus.

Looking ahead to summer there was a wealth of products designed to make barbecuing a success and a pleasure. One example is the generously-sized, robust BBQ implements from GEFU. Preparing food for the BBQ is made simple with tools like hamburger presses and practical kebab skewers. And anyone who wants a more elegant version is sure to find the ideal equipment at Eva Solo. Products include exquisitely designed gas and charcoal barbecue sets made of stainless steel and a range of BBQ accessories.

The emphatic international flair of the Ambiente in terms of both exhibitors and visitors indicates the growing interest of the entire consumer goods segment. Future-oriented brands and manufacturers are fully aware of the direction of travel. Embedded in this year’s designs is huge potential for further development and market-changing ideas. Watch this space!

See you next year at the Ambiente 2015!

Text and photos: Lisa-Marie Köster