Furniture fair vocabulary
by Thomas Wagner | Jan 9, 2012

Please put the following words in the correct order: Pure, Pure Village, Prime, Comfort, Smart. Don't tell me it's too difficult! What, you have difficulty finding your way around on this planet? And please don't give me the excuse that everything is getting more and more complex, because we won't accept it! Instead, look for the exceptional in the ordinary and think of Rhenish dialectics, practiced on a daily basis when Bonn was still the federal capital. It goes like this: let's have a vote, and then we'll see. So, go ahead, I'm waiting. Don't forget, it is January, including in the Rhineland. Well? Still no clue?

Of course! In Cologne they are once again gearing up for "imm cologne", the International Furniture Fair, starting on January 16. That is good news. The bad news is: you will need to learn a few new buzzwords if you don't want to be left behind this year, with or without Kölsch. A lesson in practical design can't hurt anyone. No, Living Kitchen has nothing to do with animated appliances. The trade fair of the same name only takes place every other year, the next being in 2013.

The word "living" makes an appearance in another context too, namely Living Interiors. But we mustn't be overhasty in our judgment. This does not mean they are actually alive, singing, smoking or snoring as other fellow occupants might. Indeed, I would like someone to explain to me why all the dead things should suddenly come to life, at a furniture fair of all places. Imagine that were actually to happen and the sofa were to march into the kitchen to chat with the refrigerator, or the bookcase, tired of carrying its heavy load, suddenly wanted to take a lay down with the floor lamp? But I digress. In any case, "Living Interiors" will premiere this year in Hall 4.2 and present "a holistic and innovatively staged picture of the entire world of furnishings", whatever that means. It'll be something consisting of bathrooms, flooring, wall coverings and lighting.

Lesson learned? Okay. Nevertheless, you still need to concentrate. Indeed, the following will see your will to learn confronted with a shift in meaning as is only observed in highly developed societies, in which the differentiation of value systems has already led to a highly fragmented structure. The "trend installation on a human scale", dubbed Das Haus, is not a house, in actual fact, but a vision of one. And it wasn't the fair's creative director who conceived it, but the London design studio Doshi Levien, which he invited to Cologne for precisely this purpose. Thus "Das Haus", which is not a house, but could be one, will soon be "something like a turnkey vision of the possibilities of living" in the middle of "Pure Village". We will be looking closely to see whether "Das Haus" really combines "the best of very different worlds" and could "stand anywhere in the world", given that it is not in fact a house, only a "house".

For its part "Pure Village" in Hall 3.2 is, contrary to many an assumption, not a village where the music group "Pur" performs (which would mean it were spelled incorrectly). In the previous editions of the event, launched in 2010, "pure" in combination with "village" didn't necessarily mean "real" or "unadulterated". But it is still important to know, even if it might seem a mystery to you why even the unreal village should be a "living space", namely "for innovative brand and product presentations". But that's marketing jargon for you. Even Wittgenstein knew that it is the use of a word that determines its meaning.

While we are at it, please also note [D³] in relation to "Pure Village" (you don't need to pronounce the brackets). For now, after having been moved around from one hall to the next in recent years, the young "design talents" have also had to move into the village. Which brings us up against very serious questions regarding a metaphorology for creative professionals. Such as whether they were driven out of the city or went voluntarily, and whether "talent" is really a positive term, which says more than simply referring to gifted young people promised something they generally don't get. Be that as it may, we will in any case see how "alive" Pure Village is in its third year, this time featuring companies such as Thonet, Gandia Blasco, Mocoba, e15, Kaldewei, Bugbad, Grohe, Création Baumann, Parador, Carpet Concept and Loewe in its little houses, which, like "Das Haus", are also only pretending to be little houses. Kapish?

I see you are rather exhausted. I know, it's a lot to take in when you are out of practice. Okay, I'll spare you the rest, namely "Pure" (without the village), "Prime", "Comfort", "Smart" and all the other names of events that are all to be packed with premium quality, innovative design, first-class exhibitors, holistic living philosophies – and many more imaginative linguistic couplings.

All that remains is to note the word Passagen, a permanent fixture on any imm vocabulary sheet. Once again this year, the accompanying event will be spread out over the entire city and encompass around 190 stations. We will just have to wait and see whether, as some are so bold as to claim, the Cologne Bight will play host to "projects and presentations" attracting the "crème de la crème of the international design scene". And last but not least, you surely already know that the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln is now called makk and is presenting characteristic furniture designed by architects from the last 100 years, from "Aalto to Zumthor", as per the subheading of the show, and have heard of the exhibition "Vor dem Gesetz" (Before the law). Although the title refers to the words of Franz Kafka and not Kasper König, Director of Museum Ludwig in Cologne, it still denotes an exhibition worth seeing – full of art, but with no design, no "Pure" and no "Village".

So, I'll see you in Cologne. And please don't forget your vocab sheet!