Bettina Bär

In exchange

In September 2022 Bettina Bär took over as head of the Heimtextilien segment of Heimtextil. In this interview she tell us what appeals to her about her new task and what we can expect from the upcoming international trade fair for home and contract textiles in Frankfurt/Main.

Anna Moldenhauer: You have worked for Messe Frankfurt since 2012, among other things for the consumer goods fairs and more recently you were Show Director for Neonyt. What appeals to you about managing the Heimtextilien segment of Heimtextil?

Bettina Bär: I know exactly why I’m doing this job, because communication is something I really enjoy. It’s a matter of being aware of the situation facing people in the industry, recognizing their needs and also reflecting the markets. I’m really fascinated by the combination of organization and the different business sectors. Heimtextil is one of our most international fairs in Frankfurt, because this is where the world of the global textile and furnishing fabrics industry come together. It is one of the leading trade fairs and so I feel honored that I can be at the helm alongside Meike Kern.

In a previous position you were jointly responsible for the “Ethical Style Guide” – and in doing so provided a platform for sustainable exhibitors. Are you planning something similar for Heimtextil to complement the “Green Village”?

Bettina Bär: Sustainability and the need for a circular economy – these are society’s big challenges. The circular economy has an important part to play and, in this context, there is great potential for development, many exciting aspects to discover, bring together, and highlight – and our mandate for the industry is to reflect all of these things in the presentation at Heimtextil. That’s why at Heimtextil 2023 we will be providing a range of offerings on the subject of sustainability and the circular economy. Naturally a major focus will be on our Trends 23/24 – where the emphasis is on returning textiles to the cycle and the large number of raw materials currently being used in the textile industry. The processes involved and the variety of products will be showcased in Hall 9. A second important element is the “Green Directory” in which we have listed for our visitors which exhibitors at the fair are presenting sustainable products. This is intended by way of orientation. In the “Green Village” visitors can familiarize themselves with both the certification bodies as well as the firms whose production is one hundred percent sustainable – from sourcing, via development and processing through to recycling.

Will there be new things on offer and if so, what exactly?

Bettina Bär: We’ve created a new format called LIBRARY in the Interior.Architecture.Hospitality segment. First, various specifications for functional textiles were defined in advance – from sound-absorbing, light-resistant, anti-bacterial, flame retardant and water-repellent. We then asked our exhibitors to submit products with the respective functions along with the corresponding certificates. A panel of experts curated the entries and a selection of textiles will be prominently showcased on the boulevard in Hall 4.0. You know I was totally fascinated by the diversity of this topic and the many possibilities these functional textiles offer: For example, the flame-retardant textiles included a really delicate, transparent fabric that could be used to make a wedding dress. Moreover, Hall 4.0 has a strong focus on Contract textiles and we are providing extra booths for firms that offer fabrics for contract furnishing as an additional product range.

And there will also be tours, right?

Bettina Bär: Absolutely. For example, in connection with Interior.Architecture.Hospitality LIBRARY there’ll be an opening tour hosted by the panel of experts. The experts will act as guides for the curated exhibition of functional textiles. Then we have the TALKS & TOURS – in other words, an expert will give a short talk after which he or she will lead a group on a guided tour of the fair and present their own personal highlights. This arrangement provides an opportunity for exchange, it is integrative and attendees will get a credit point by the Hessen Chamber of Architects and Urban Planners which has recognized it as a training/further training measure. TALKS & TOURS will be offered by the AIT but also by the bdia, the AHGZ and by world architects.

What challenges does Heimtextil currently face – and that includes with regard to sustainability?

Bettina Bär: Naturally we at Messe Frankfurt also have to concern ourselves with sustainability. It’s no different for us than it is for our clients. There are now various legal requirements that also apply to the manufacturing industry. One thing we, do for example, is to purchase solar power and we work with a company that recycles the floor covering we use for the halls and feeds it back into the cycle as granulate pellets. This goes to show how important partnerships are when it comes to sustainability. In the textile sector we cooperate with the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network and the UN Office for Partnerships so as to put the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at our textile events in the spotlight worldwide. It is our task at Heimtextil to make sustainable development in the textile industry visible with a high-quality supporting program to encourage an inspiring exchange of views. So, our Heimtextil Trends 23/24 highlights approaches to the circular economy that provide the market with ideas for a more sustainable development. The circular economy also underpins the presentation of Heimtextil Trends 23/24 itself: With the “Material Manifesto” FranklinTill the trend agency in charge, is committed to ensuring the design of the area is as sustainable as possible featuring largely recycled materials and elements and follows a strict zero-waste strategy.

Are you saying you want to encourage firms to accept greater responsibility?

Bettina Bär: Well, we can’t demand sustainable development from the exhibitors but we can present it, furnish new ideas, and promote both interaction and networking on current themes – something we pursue very intensively with our accompanying program. However, a stronger focus on sustainability amongst firms has been evident in recent years. Naturally we highlight these sustainable solutions at Heimtextil and provide visitors with valuable ideas for becoming greener.

During my research I read that you get a buzz out of being able to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Which puzzle would you like to solve for Heimtextil?

Bettina Bär: Everyone comes together at the fair – people from industry, exhibitors, visitors, interest groups and stakeholders; it’s like a “melting pot” of know-how and inspiration. And this is quintessentially what makes me want to improve a product like Heimtextil still further. In addition, we know that the industry currently faces very substantial challenges. Our customers are being bombarded by an incredibly large number of issues from Russia’s war of aggression that has disrupted supply chains, via the energy crisis through to the aftermath of the pandemic. Our program at the fair aims to provide ways of dealing with these challenges. And going forward there is to be an even stronger concentration on delivering such information, on helping clients to find tailored answers to their questions.

Is there a development, whether in material research or in the field of new technologies that you find especially interesting for the textile industry?

Bettina Bär: What I find extremely interesting and here we have many similarities with our sister trade fair, the Techtextil, is the functional design requirements for a textile. Functional textiles can also play an essential role in addressing the climate crisis. I would like to pursue these approaches further in the near future.

How would you like to improve on the Heimtextil program?

Bettina Bär: Heimtextil is a hugely successful trade fair and has set itself high quality standards. Together with our clients we have to continue to present and develop the topic of sustainability. I would like to push for better quality of our international offerings. With this in mind we are looking very closely at where we stand for every product segment, where there are exciting markets, and where we can still grow. In this context the global network with our subsidiaries and sales partners is very useful for this exchange. After the sluggish years of the pandemic, we are once again the focal point for the international industry and will also maintain this position going forward. We now all realize that digitization alone is not enough. There is simply no substitute for physical trade fairs because of the personal encounters, the interaction, and the momentum. And we will definitely continue to rely on them.

10 – 13 January 2023

Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1
60327 Frankfurt am Main

Heimtextil 2023: WOW Your Senses!