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From Frankfurt: Heimtextil

January in Frankfurt is pretty darn cold, so it feels fitting to be here at Heimtextil browsing all the lush materials that are changing the way we make ourselves at home. It’s the 40th year of the fair, and the Messe Frankfurt fairground is beyond expansive. 2,500 booths spanning nearly 340,000 square meters of exhibition space feature bed, bath, and table linens and accessories, wall, floor, and window coverings, an entire hall is devoted to suppliers from Asia, and a dedicated trends section exploring the look and feel of the forecasted fashions for 2010 and 2011.

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 It’s a little tough to take it all in, a reality that isn’t lost on Olaf Schimdt, Vice President of Textile Fairs at Messe Frankfurt. I had a chance for a quick chat with Mr. Schmidt, whose hope for Heimtextil is that it is, simply, “a show where you’ll find everything.” In addition to providing the contract buyers and brands with the platform to share their wares, there is a strong focus on setting trends and giving a global forum to young designers and students.

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One of the coolest things I came across on day one was "Dare to Dream," a super-hybrid of craft tradition, modern design, and even a bit of performance art. Dutch pals and recent graduates from the Design Academy Eindhoven, Anna Smolders and Sophie Duran (above), were commissioned by the Stijlinstituut Amsterdam to do an installation at the fair. As far as directives for the project, Anna said, “We were told ‘You have a bed this big. Work it.’”
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So they based their idea on the 500 year-old Dutch custom of Merklappen, where girls are taught to embroider, and then embark on a seven-year, 12-meter-long project. The finished tapestries illustrate both the evolution of the young ladies and according to Sophie, “ideas of their future,” and are treasured as true heritage pieces.
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For Heimtextil, the duo gathered antique textiles—crisp white sheets and coverlets, knits and laces—from “sales, grandmas, online…. Everywhere,” and plan to adorn all 12m by the end of the fair on Saturday. When I caught up with them Thursday afternoon they were working on a pillow each, both featuring their bosses’ stitched likenesses. “People seem nervous to come over and sit down, so they’re going to be saying, ‘Relax,’ and ‘Have a seat,’” Anna said. By the end of the show the bed will be nearly covered in patterns. They’re not sure where it will end up after they’re finished, but they’ll no doubt be busy with their other latest venture, Lola Confetti, an art/design collective they started a few months ago.

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