Top Design Trends-Ambiente 2016
Today I’m presenting the top design trends that I gathered from my recent whirlwind 4-day trip to Frankfurt, Germany to attend Ambiente, the world’s largest international trade fair for consumer goods. There, I powered through the endless aisles to absorb everything I saw and to form my thoughts on the top design trends. With 4400 exhibitors representing 90 countries from around the world, Ambiente is one of the largest and diverse shows that I have ever attended. The show was divided into 3 main consumer categories: Living, Dining, and Giving, with each category broken down into more targeted categories catering to different styles and price points.
Embrace yourselves – this a long post but it is chock full of information on the top design trends at Ambiente seen not only from my lens, but from two other perspectives: the style bureau of bora.herke.palmisan and the Ambiente Trend Scouts who are students of International Lifestyle Studies in The Netherlands. Trends were presented in the form of a walk-through display while the other presented their findings in the form of group tours to the booths with explanations on the relevance of the trends and products cited. When attending a trade show, I always like to go in with intentionally NOT reading up on trends that others may report ahead of time. My policy is that I go in with an unbiased view and report on things as I see it. Because Ambiente is show with a global influence and reach, it does not cater to one part of the world or aesthetic, but the product and trends seen are a true representation of what is is trending in design globally.
The big question is, “What caught my eye as the top trends at Ambiente?” Well, here we go…
My Perspective of Top Design Trends seen at Ambiente 2016
• Spectrum of Color
• Flat-packed DIY Goods
• Matte Black and White Porcelain and Ceramics
• Dip-Dye Effects
• Ethical Style
Spectrum of Color
While in the United States we see color presented as color palettes or color stories, I found that the entire spectrum of saturated color was the choice color palette or story at Ambiente. Every color on the spectrum was displayed at booths across all three categories at Ambiente, and each display made a powerful statement.
Cork was another material that I saw used across all categories. I’m not sure if this is because I was in Europe, which is in closer proximity to Portugal and Spain, and where the majority of cork harvested worldwide annually, originates. One thing for sure is back in the United States I have never seen so much cork represented, and in so many unique ways. Another reason for its increased presence may be the fact that cork is a renewable resource and an emphasis has been placed on eco-friendly design over the last few years. Cork is a sustainable material that is obtained from the bark of the Cork Oak. It is impermeable, hydrophobic, buoyant and fire retardant and is normally used for wine stoppers, bulletin boards, or shoes. In recent years I have seen it used in thin sheets as wall covering but never as interesting as I saw it used at Ambiente. Lighting is one way I never expected cork to be used, but considering the fact that it is fire retardant makes perfect sense. Perhaps in the future, here in the States we can take full advantage of cork’s inherent qualities such as was seen at Ambiente.
Muratto showcased cork as wall covering – both sculpted and three dimensional as well as painted and laser cut.
Flat-packed DIY Design
Flat-packed design has seen an increased presence in the marketplace for a number of possible reasons. I see it as more eco-friendly, as it utilizes less packaging materials and does not cost as much to ship. As you will read in the last presentation of trends on this post, the Ambiente Trend Scouts believe that the interactivity that occurs with flat-packed design allows for an exchange of dialogue between the designer and consumer, and with the consumer being an integral part of the design process, they form a sense of pride and bond with the product they are creating.
Pliable tin allows this metal grid to be formed into a variety of pieces. It can be displayed flat as a trivet, it can be shaped into a fruit bowl, it can be displayed as an elevated stand — the possibilities are endless.
Matte Black and White Ceramic and Porcelain
One trend I have been seeing is a return to minimalistic shapes, forms and color. Designers are employing the use of matte black or white glaze, and in the absence of color, the focus is instead on shape, exceptional design, function, and impeccable craftsmanship.
You’ve all seen the dipped chair legs and the glaze-dipped pottery over the last few years, but that trend is now evolving and branching out in other directions – some that work but others that are not necessarily as successful.
Fringed fabric which is then dip-dyed to form a subtle two-tone effect is used as a shade to filter light from a hanging pendant.
Taking the glaze dipped trend one step further, Royal Copenhagen offers a similar look but instead uses bright, saturated colors and instead of glaze uses a rubber grip.
Until I viewed this pair of vases (in this year’s two Pantone colors of the year – Serenity and Rose Quartz), I had only seen dip glazes used on simple, minimalist shapes, which is why this pair caught my eye. A traditional vase shape with a relief pattern which is dipped into glaze is certainly unexpected and not my favorite – we’ll see how far this actually goes. However, the other more minimalist pieces from the same collection were quite stunning.
This year Ambiente focused on sustainability, which is why it is no surprise that there was quite a presence of product sourced from companies that not only utilize renewable materials, but are also conscious of their social manufacturing practices and preserving the local culture of where they source and manufacture. The “Ethical Style Guide”, distributed by Ambiente, puts the spotlight on the companies that utilize these responsible practices.
Ariane Prin’s Rust Collection is inspired by the desire to create new form out of commonly disregarded waste materials. Prin uses scrap metal dust from key and metal factories, which she then mixes with cornstarch and gypsum based materials before pouring the mixture into a plastic mold. To create the unique rust color, the objects are left outside to battle the elements and until the metal dust oxidizes to the desired intensity. The longer it is left to nature’s elements, the more prominent the rust becomes.
Wait!! I’m not done yet. As I mentioned earlier, this is a long post but is full of useful trend information, so continue on to hear what the experts have to say about what they see as the top design trends at Ambiente.
Trends are not always easy to identify, especially if one is focused on finding new product and is not accustomed to multi-tasking while at market. Most buyers cannot always identify trends and oftentimes rely on others to supply information, which will then dictate their buying patterns. The folks at Ambiente recognize how important trends are and engage not one, but two separate parties to present their top design trend findings – the style bureau bora.herke.palmisano and the International Lifestyle students from The Netherlands.
Top Design Trends—Ambiente Trends 2016
bora.herke.palmisano, led by Cem Bora, Clauda Herke, and Anetta Palmisano uses its international research and analyzes the latest directions in design, fashion, and architecture. This information is then used to present the styles that they believe to be the most important and influential at Ambiente. A detailed, walk through display of products indicative of the four most important styles and top design trends put out for all to see, and these were their findings:
• Artisanal Gardening
• Futuristic Couture
• Functional Simplicity
• Composing Freedom
Artisanal Gardening celebrates the marriage of natural materials such as wood, ceramics, and linen with the traditional craft of weaving, quilting, glazing and other techniques practiced by today’s artisans.
Futuristic Couture elevates materials such as lucite, neoprene and metal by utilizing technology to create unique shapes and texture that are the height of futuristic fashion.
Functional Simplicity strips design to its purest form, all while concentrating on high-quality function and exceptional workmanship. Everything is monochromatic and no frills.
Composing Freedom is an explosion of color that is influenced by street fashion from around the world. A contrast of color, textures, and an unconventional mix of materials.
Last but certainly not least, are the trend findings presented by the Ambiente Trend Scouts.
Top Design Trends According to the Ambiente Trend Scouts
More top design trends – this time from the students from International Lifestyle Studies at Fontys Academy for Creative Industries in the Netherlands led 45-minute trend tours to present their top design trend findings. One tour focused on trends in living and another on trends in dining. Even though the students leading each tour were relatively young, they had a firm understanding of the relevant trends – where they originated and what to expect for the future. What did the Trend Scouts see as the top design trends at Ambiente?
• Daily Fling
• Raw by Nature
• Tangible Tech
A lighthearted approach to design in response to the constant pressures of daily life. Unpredictable interpretations of traditional objects bring a dose of joy and humor to everyday life. The color palette contains brilliant hues of cyan, magenta, yellow and orange.
The traditional citrus squeezer is given a whimsical overhaul by Koziol and shaped to resemble the paper boats and hats that we all remember from our childhood —all while not losing its primary function as a citrus squeezer.
In recent years, technology has become a part of our everyday life to the point that oftentimes we are not even aware of its presence, which leads us to take these creature comforts for granted. Tangible tech creates an experience between the product and the user and this interactivity creates an awareness of not only the effect that technology has but also of the power consumption of the product used.
Made of a stretchy printed lycra, the picture frame below turns into bedside lighting when the cord is pulled. The prints are fully customizable which is an added bonus.
The Transcreation theme integrates user interaction as a part of the experience, and this creates an exchange between the designer and consumer where the consumer creates a product that is unique to them. Because of mass production, the consumer is unable to find products that are tailored specifically to them. Because these products require interaction by the consumer, they can be tailored to the exact aesthetic or needs of the individual. This is one of the trends that I also identified but rather than seeing it as a dialogue between designer and consumer, I saw it more as a function of heightened awareness of the environment and cutting down on the amount of packaging generated, as the products are flat packed when shipped. This is a part of the DIY Ikea movement, but with a dose of creativity. Eco-conscious design or user integration— both make a valid point!
Flat-packed plastic lanterns can be colored as desired before being assembled and illuminated.
Raw by Nature
It seems as though every aspect of our lives is created and controlled. Technology has taken over our lives and we have the constant need to strive for perfection. Raw by Nature is anything but controlled and perfect, as we are at the mercy of nature to dictate what the final outcome will be. Organic and asymmetrical shapes, crystals in their original form, unfinished wood are materials that embrace the Raw by Nature trend.
The Synergetic trend embraces individualism but the same time togetherness. Two or more objects that work in tandem with one another to create a larger, more important object or being.
Well that wraps up this post — the top design trends at Ambiente 2016 seen from 3 unique perspectives. I hope you enjoyed it and found the information useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the design trends discussed!