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Promoting the Circular Economy and Rounded Elements at IMM

Promoting the Circular Economy and Rounded Elements at IMM
Versatile COMEET chair. Courtesy of Klöber.

Trending at IMM Cologne 2024, exhibitors are embracing the circular economy and integrating rounded elements to redefine furniture forms.

January 14-18, 2024; Cologne—A recurring theme at IMM Cologne 2024 revolved around the circle, serving as a dual focal point that defined both the essence of design innovations and architectural language. This year’s emphasis on the circular economy, sustainable production, and disposal underscored a commitment to environmentally conscious practices. Meanwhile, the prevalence of rounded corners in sideboards, shelves, dining tables, and even the transformation of sofas away from angular structures showcased the pervasive influence of the circular motif in shaping contemporary aesthetics. In essence, IMM Cologne 2024 became a celebration of form and function, where the circle took center stage, influencing both design philosophy and spatial dynamics. 

“We need soft, curvy shapes in tough times” 

As stated by a tour guide during the fair, referencing the words of Swedish blogger Stefan Nilsson and Italian architect Elisabetta Rizzato, “We need soft, curvy shapes in tough times”. Many German brands showcased novelties dedicated to round, curvy shapes. Team 7 exemplifies this concept by introducing its new Elliot lounge chair, designed by Czech designer Lucia Koldova. Elliot reveals an exclusive Italian wool bouclé and solid wood components assembled without formaldehyde using pure natural oil. The seat and backrest prioritize sustainability with a layered structure of renewable coconut latex and natural latex, adorned with an Ökotex Standard 100 certified Bouclé fabric cover.

Round design novelties across Europe

Beyond Germany, other brands displayed their new designs with a similar tendency to favor circular shapes. Belgian brand Ethnicraft f.i. with its novel solid oak or teak wood collection designed by Alain van Havre consisting of a dining table, a dining chair, and a sideboard with a splash of the 60s design language. Danish label House Nordic presented its Artenara dining chair made of oak, while the Swedish company Venture Design showcased its new three-seat sofa Luna and matching beige sofa table Narvik.

“For 2024, we see mainly soft, organic shapes,” stated a spokesperson at the Venture Design fair booth about the brand’s furniture. “When it comes to tableware and accessories, we are particularly interested in dots this spring. That playful design is currently very popular in Sweden.”

Narvik sofa table. Courtesy of Venture Design.
Artenara dining chair. Courtesy of House Nordic.

Positioning Sustainability for Personalized and Modular Production

As part of the overall economic and social trend towards sustainability, the combination of old and new, past and modern could be found in almost all new design furniture. The strong focus is laid on the fact that objects can be assembled in a modular way according to separate materials and thus also be disposed of in the same way as seen, for example, in the sustainable sofa range ECHT by German designer Rolf Benz found at the booth for his company freistil. All components can be sorted separately while all covers are washable and made from recycled materials.

The same approach to personalization could be found in various exhibitors’ new items such as the versatile COMEET chair and stool by Klöber which is customizable in terms of color and material. Even more, the furniture can be used both indoors and outdoors. In fact, they’ve created a new recycled version of the COMEET chair. The material for the seat and backrest shell is certified according to the European Certification of Plastics Recyclers (EuCertPlast) and meets strict requirements under close scrutiny and evaluation Post-consumer PP has a high sustainable value, represents an important element of the circular economy and ensures a significant reduction in CO2 emissions

ECHT sofa. Courtesy of freistil by Rolf Benz.
Versatile COMEET chair. Courtesy of Klöber.

Rounded Designs in the Workspace 

In the realm of home office comfort, German label Balolo has been a pioneer since 2012, offering smart design solutions that boast a purist, high-quality, and simple aesthetic. For the past four years, the brand has showcased its flagship product, the “Setup Cockpit,” a modular monitor riser distinguished by softly rounded edges. This versatile piece can be personalized with practical elements such as compartments, laptop risers, tablets, and headphone holders. This year, Balolo introduced the innovative “Wall Cockpit,” a shelf counterpart to the desk version, featuring the same soft-shaped design and available in walnut, oak, or classic black wood to complement their entire office product range.

On a different design note, Martin Versus Wienecke unveiled Table T01, a conference table with a distinctive two-part look. Departing from the conventional seating arrangement with its rounded, split shape, the meeting table serves as a symbolic representation of alignment and partnership.

Table 101. Courtesy of Martin Versus Wienecke.
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