Feria Habitat Valencia, together with the Milan Salone del Mobile, IMM Cologne and the Stockholm Furniture Fair, was considered part of the quadriga of the most relevant furniture fairs in Europe. But then came the crisis.
In a country like Germany, whose economy is currently thriving, it is at times not easy to imagine what living in times of crisis means. As with many economic and social waves of change, the process began slowly, before really picking up speed. The figures: In 2007 annual sales were just under 8.6 billion euros. In 2008, one year after the crisis took hold, sales had sunk to 7.2 billion euros, finally slumping five years later, and with the usual multiplier effects, to a low of 3.7 billion in 2012. In other words, the Spanish furniture market lost 57 percent of its sales in just six years. It’s not hard to imagine the consequences. For the trade fair Habitat Valencia it meant the end of the road for a time. It subsequently joined up with the ceramics fair “Cevisama”.
And now, at long last, Habitat Valencia is back, with four exhibition halls filled with manufacturers. Even some (if only a few) foreign companies such as Schönbuch and Brokis made it to Valencia and reported back that it had certainly been worthwhile. The one or other big Spanish name may well have been missing, but those manufacturers that did attend and presented their new products made a statement with their presence: for trust in the stabilizing Spanish market and the need for a presentation platform on the Iberian Peninsula. It is certainly worth taking a glance southward at Spanish design – particularly when all the world is looking northwards and getting into hygge. So here is an overview of novelties from the trade fair:
Devilish: Gandia-Blasco’s sister
Not just new products, but a whole new label too: At Feria Habitat Gandia Blasco launched its new label “Diabla” with a stand gleaming in a rich red. If that is meant to be the feminine form of Hell, it’s a wonderful place to take a seat and spend some time. Diabla had several new products to offer, such as “Valentina”, designed by Alejandra Gandia-Blasco. The collection, consisting of sofa, recliner, armchair and table, is extremely delicate and comfortable, and suits living rooms just as well as Diabla’s trade fair purgatory. “Lipstick” by José A. Gandia-Blasco in contrast is – as we might expect, given its name – a round chair, robust and not at all shy.
Multifaceted: Patricia Urquiola for Andreu World
Andreu World’s stand was caught in ‘Patricia Urquiola fever’ and showed how well working and living go together today. To this end, the successful “Nuez Chair” was upholstered, making it ideal both at the dinner table and at the conference table. And like all Andreu World products, this one too is produced sustainably.
Jubilee time: Capdell reaches the big 5-0
At fifty it is safe to say you have quite a few experiences under your belt. Including a crisis or two. And so it seems that a traditional company like Capdell has developed its own strategies for long-term survival. And they are, according to Capdell’s Export Manager Gauthier de Nutte, “good design, good quality and very personal customer service.” That might also mean, says Gauthier de Nutte, traveling to a client on the other side of the world to service products – with the result that you keep the client. You could also call it customer retention that goes the extra mile, when management also pitches in with the product itself. And the new products too not only stand for good design, but also for longevity. Such as Patrick Norguet’s seating furniture “Insula” for the commercial sector.
Even more new products and young designers
The label Ondarreta from San Sebastian displayed its new product ranges: the stackable chair “Contour” by Ben van Berkel/UN Studio, side table and lounge chair “Lana” by Yonoh and table-and-chair combi “Bai” by Ander Lizaso. At Carmenes, visitors were able to catch an early glance of a prototype by the young designer duo “We are Forms”, as well as view current novelties such as the armchair “Norman” by Savage. “Sunset” is the name of the lounge chair that demonstrates how striking form and a reduced design are not a contradiction in terms.
Talking of young Spanish design, the trade fair presented exciting young designers at the special exhibition “Nude”. They include the abovementioned “We are Forms” – Carlos Tur and Elena Martínez – who not only showed the lounge chair “Sunset”, but also their reduced luminaire “Eclipse” and “Volcano” bowls. Borja Sepulcre studied Industrial Design in Valencia and has worked for Viccarbe, Marset and Oscar Diaz Studio. In Valencia he presented his lightweight, flexible pendant luminaire “Luca”.
Diego Bernardeau and Alex Gomezslok take less well trodden paths when it comes to product and furniture design. Together they are Algostudio and develop furniture for digital nomads, surfers (as they themselves are) and other outdoor types. They designed, for instance, the inflatable mattress “La Cama”, which transforms any car trunk and backseat into a usable sleeping area and can be easily carried anywhere on your back. Not to mention “La Cocina”, a small outdoors kitchen. This sense of positive pragmatism combined with healthy self-confidence was in evidence all around the fair. And is reflected in the current figures: Things are looking up. In 2016 the annual sales of the Spanish furniture industry reached just under four billion euros. And from January to June 2017 furniture exports increased by 4.5 percent – so for now, the outlook is sunny.