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Trendsetters: International Furniture Fairs To Look Out For

Consultations with interior designers and reading issues of Wallpaper are no doubt great ways to gain inspiration about home decor, but what if you're looking for something a little more current―not to mention avant-garde―and a chance to savour the buzz and excitement of new designs?

One way to do that is to visit furniture trade fairs and home decor shows, which are usually held annually to showcase the best and newest trends in the industry. These shows are typically large undertakings, with dozens of exhibitors and participants from around the country or the world, and can feature ground-breaking and prize-winning works. Some of the top shows around the world include IMM Cologne in Germany, the Paris Furniture Show (held with Salon de meuble de Paris), Stockholm International Furniture Fair and Interiors Birmingham. Although these are held for industry professionals, they are usually also open to the public.

Here are some of the most well-known shows.

IMM Cologne | Next show: 19th - 25th January 2009
IMM Cologne

The 2008 was a resounding success, establishing its position as the leading international fair: by the time the fair ended, more than 107,000 visitors from 130 countries had a chance to see for themselves the furniture and furnishings trends introduced. For seven days, 1,251 participating companies from 53 countries presented a comprehensive spectrum of top-class design furniture extending through to classic home furniture and furnishings worlds. With a foreign share of 66 per cent on the exhibitors' side, the event reflected the global markets.

The highlight of the show was "Art of kitchen", where premium kitchen manufacturers presented their best ideas and products, impressing visitors and buyers. Special presentations such as "Architecture Code Cologne", "Design Deutschland Case Study 08" and presentation of the "Compasso d'oro", 50 years of Italian furniture design, were also highlights.

Some of the trends brought up at the show include:
-replacement of the classic wall unit by light and flexible wall systems
-dominance of white in decor and furniture
-integration of technology in furniture, eg., flat-screens and speakers as part of furniture and furnishings
-use of LED lighting, even for bookcases, wardrobes and beside reading lamps.
-high-class kitchens
-'green' furniture, which is manufactured in an environmentally-friendly process and can be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.

IMM Cologne Furniture and Furnishings


Salon Internazional del Mobile and the International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition (Milan) | Next show: 22-27 April 2009 (Open to the public - April 26)

Salon Internazional del Mobile

As expected of a show in Milan, this showed the newest trends in home furnishings in various styles ranging from classic to modern and to designer. showcased the latest in domestic furnishing, declined in all the various styles, ranging from classic to modern to designer. The show hosted a record number of visitors (348,000), of whom nearly two-thirds came from abroad. Some of the future trends highlighted at the show included a house of the future that was designed with eco sustainability in mind

At the Saloni, 2,450 exhibiting companies ranged over a net area of 230,000 sqm. Here we were treated to a glimpse of the trends for the house of the future, designed with eco sustainability in mind, while kitchens were given a classical treatment and there were pieces and exhibits to show how technology was incorporated in furnishings.

Salone Internazionale del Mobile Furniture and Furnishings


Stockholm International Furniture Fair | Next show: 4-8 February 2009

Stockholm International Furniture Fair

Held in conjunction with the Northern Light Fair, which shows the newest designs in home lighting, using LEDs, halogen lamps, glass fibre lights, the 2008 Stockholm International Furniture Fair attracted 768 exhibitors (650 at SFF AND 118 at NLF) with the main exhibitors coming from Denmark, Norway and Finland, showcasing the best of Scandinavia design and giving the show a distinct Nordic flair. In fact, it is considered the most important meeting places for Nordic design. Altogether, 23 countries were represented on 37,330 sqm of exhibition space, attracting more than 38,000 visitors. New designers are profiled, and the design competitions often highlight delightful, quirky designs that nevertheless capture the clean, abstract lines of modern Scandinavian furniture.

Stockholm International Furniture Fair Furniture and Furnishings


Paris Furniture Show | Next show: 22-26 January 2009

Maison & Objet

This is a relatively new furniture show and held at the same time as Maison & Objet, the home trade fair exhibition, and the upcoming 2009 show will highlight 'The Store', a 400 sqm flagship store designed by architect Pierre-Julien Dentale that will be built within the Planete Meuble Paris exhibition centre. In all, more than 3,500 exhibitors are expected on over 300,000 sqm of space. As the name (and location) suggests, this exhibition will showcase the best of French country design, as well as abstract and highly conceptual pieces and objets d'art.

The China International Furniture Fair (Guangzhou) | Next show: 8-11 September 2008

The China International Furniture Fair

The show, also known as 'Asia's Furniture Sourcing Centre', is prominent for its extensive list of Chinese manufacturers who sought to sell to the rest of the world. At the same time, good-quality design and workmanship ensure that the pieces will be well-received by buyers in Asia, Europe and North America. Modern and classical furniture will still be the main attractions at CIFF, displaying exhibits such as living room, dining room, bedroom furniture, kitchen furniture, outdoor furniture, soft furniture etc, and providing a "one-stop" platform for international buyers.

The China International Furniture Fair Furniture and Furnishings


Interiors Birmingham | Next show: 18-21 Jan 2009

Interiors Birmingham Furniture and Furnishings

Among the top furniture and interior decor shows in Europe, especially for trade buyers, Interiors Birmingham places itself as a one-stop shop for sourcing needs, from high-end, bespoke furniture to volume pieces. It will have eight different halls: furniture; design interiors; furnishing accessories; soft furnishings; lighting (two halls); and outdoor pieces.

Hong Kong International Furniture Fair | Next show: 28-21 Oct 2008.

Hong Kong International Furniture Fair

Only in its third year, this show plays on its strengths by bringing together manufacturers and buyers from China and around the world. In 2007, the fair hosted 172 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions, and attracted over 8,100 buyers came from 112 countries. More than half the buyers were from Asia, with those from Europe and North American taking up second and third.

What is special about HKIFF is its special, premium section called IGLOO (Inspirational, Glamorous, Lively, Original and Outstanding), where high-end pieces, often showing amazing design and quality of craftsmanship, are presented.

In addition to IGLOO, there is also a Classic Furniture Zone, which displays antique or reproduction items in the classic styles of East and West. It's a great opportunity for buyers who seek to give interiors a vintage look.

Furniture shows and fairs are some of the best ways for professionals in the industry to come together, and for laymen, these shows are great opportunities to see unique displays and fashions in interior decor. If you ever needed a statement for your living room, it can be found.