Trend Watch: Study Up on the Best Design from imm Cologne 2018

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By Iain Aitch
Check out highlights from the German design fair.

Friedrike was the name on the lips of most exhibitors and attendees at January’s annual imm Cologne design show.

The name didn’t belong to the hottest new designer in town, but to a storm that generated hurricane-strength winds in northwest Germany and shut down most of the country’s transport network for 24 hours during the show. 

Fortunately, the storm didn’t impact visitor numbers much and the halls were buzzing with design fans, buyers, and designers. The exhibition offered plenty of twists on classic design and pieces inspired by the simple, clean lines of modernism. These were our favorites.

Journey lamp by Signe Hytte 

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A great example of how a simple product can draw admiring glances. The Danish designer’s black model screams 1920s modern home, with a chrome version offering you the chance to inhabit the 1930s office of the future almost 90 years on. 

Molly bench by Marcel Pasternak

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When it comes to fun design, Berlin-based Marcel Pasternak’s Molly bench was a real standout, with the seat modelled from what appears to be a trio of giant plastic drinking straws. Humor or environmental comment? You decide. 

String System by Nisse Strinning

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Nisse Strinning’s String shelving system had a large presence at imm, a welcome departure from the wonderful yet slightly overused Dieter Rams Vitsoe system. String came first, having been invented in 1949, some 11 years before Rams’ design. 

The Papaï sofa by LucidiPevere

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The Papaï sofa from LucidiPevere (Italians Paolo Lucidi and Luca Pevere) echoes Saarinen’s Womb Chair, but looks far more practical for everyday use. The folded foam looks invitingly comfy and the colors are stunning. 

Cellastic chair by Hiroyuki Morita

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Hiroyuki Morita’s lightweight Cellastic chair highlighted the theme of fabrics and weaving that was prevalent in the show, with its latex and nylon threads creating a wave pattern that is both functional and beautiful. 

Modulo by Ercol

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Ercol’s new Modulo storage system in solid oak bridges the gap between utilitarian and classic design. This is not the storage unit of your college days, although those Penguin paperbacks should fit in nicely. 

Varya by Simon Pengelly for InClass 

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Brit Simon Pengelly’s Varya seating collection for Spain’s InClass combined ice-cream colors with practical office-seating design. The mix and match of seats and materials recalls the chair design of Robin Day. 

Loafer armchair by Space Copenhagen 

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Danish duo Space Copenhagen have come up with the beautifully compact Loafer armchair for the Arne Jacobsen-designed SAS Royal Hotel (now Radisson Blu Royal Hotel) in Copenhagen. The color palette is refined-yet-original and would add grace to any lobby, lounge or bedroom. 

Meta side table by New Tendency 

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Berlin’s New Tendency studio used the show to launch new colors of its Meta side table, which introduces pastels and natural shades to industrial design.

Zenzo chair by Formstrelle 

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Formstrelle’s Zenso wood chair could have been designed and built anytime in the last 50 years, and fit perfectly in any dining room during any period in that time. The walnut frame and unfussy upholstery make this feel like that dream vintage store find that you will never uncover.