The trend forum at Heimtextil: mother nature shows in the lab, where the journey goes on. All photos © Martina Metzner, Stylepark
Vive la Raffinesse!
by Martina Metzner
Jan 12, 2014

You could be forgiven thinking Christmas is not over if you spend a little time at the current Heimtextil trade fair in Frankfurt, as there’s so much glitz and glitter. Silver-coated fabrics with that crinkled look, linen with decorative copper embroidery, wallpaper boasting strass. These are but a few of the many zeitgeisty trends to be seen at the Heimtextil, and the prospects are metaphorically golden. As there’s an ongoing thirst to fashionably decorate apartments as a haven from the hectic over-techy world. In the trade fair halls, there’s much hustle and bustle, the dealers are all upbeat as regards the coming season. And they’ve definitely got new products to show, at this year’s Heimtextil, with its 2,718 exhibitors from 61 countries.

So what are the trends, the new colors, materials and textures that we will soon be greeting in our own four walls? The answer is to be found, hardly surprisingly, at the Trendforum, which has garnered so much praise in recent years. Although this year it doesn’t really know where it’s going with all its concept zones. One zone relies on all manner of youth cultures, with garish neon colors where a “real” hipster uses an Airbrush printer to “customize” bags, while by way of background decorative animation for the entire setting, human movements are simulated as worlds of color and projected onto a wall.
In another part of the Forum we encounter Mother Nature’s lab. Loose hanging textiles in greens and silvers, test tubes and all manner of apparatuses whisk us back to Biology 101. Not that issues relating to sustainability are discussed here, as the focus is on nature as a great source of new materials and techniques: For example bacteria cultures for new dying techniques or the “Mycelium Chair”, a 3D-printed chair made of regenerative materials.

The next part of the Forum doffs its cap to the growing interest in the primordial with a kind of campsite. Over a tea in the midst of a collection of wools, cottons and linen with light or coarse weaves you can learn that “eco” can definitely be “chic”. Then there’s the fourth area, an Oriental labyrinth of lavishly patterned strips of fabric dipped in the colors of spices. If one thing’s clear it’s that the Heimtextil intends in these two zones to dispatch us into the desert, back to our ancestors, as they knew how things went! To summarize: Nothing that hasn’t somehow been seen somewhere before.

The caravan moves on, with no great surprises, into Hall 3.1, the Heimtextil’s heart. Here, the big wallpaper makers have their stands, Erfurt, A.S. Creation, Omexco, Arte. As well as high-end makers such as Élitis and Sahco. Marburger Tapetenfabrik has chosen this time to set up camp in Palmengarten and transports the visitor there in its own personal shuttle service. There must be a lot of people wanting to turn their homes into castles judging by the curtains with glitter effects and neo-Baroque wallpaper with floral décor at just about every second booth. Needless to say, Harald Glööckler (Germany’s star home-shopping salesman) is up to his mischief here – presenting his new collection at Marburger Tapeten, alongside other celebs such as Dieter Bohlen, Barbara Becker and Jette Joop. It becomes clear at the latest at this point that you’ll be sorely tried at this fair if you have a progressive view of design. You’ll need to scratch away at the surface for a while to find something interesting.

At the booth of French wallpaper specialist Élitis you can sense what an innovative masterpiece can be: an eye-catching relief-like, foam-padded wall covering in a full cardinal mauve. Élitis’ Patrice Marraud des Grottes explained the ingenious technique devised to make the wallpaper – two years’ lead time was required; it was derived from the world of lingerie, and one needs think only of push-ups! Marraud des Grottes Raves about the Italian shoemakers whose techniques are now also being used, about tobacco leaves that are used on the wall, and about digitally printed fabrics that don’t seem flat but pleated. The results are indeed products of astonishing craftsmanship.

Opposite, at the Arte booth, there are also foam-padded 3D wallpapers, albeit with strictly geometrical small checks that now and again blur. It’s the new “Le Corbusier” collection, intended to remind us of the great architect’s oeuvre and developed in close consultation with the “Fondation Le Corbusier” in Paris – only genuine Le Corbusier colors are used. The six wallpaper types (“Squares”, “Tints”, “Dots”, “Stone”, “Unity” and “Pavilion”) form a balanced, minimalist composition and will no doubt find the right buyers. Architects Paper by A.S. Creation takes a completely different approach. Here, the novelty is called “Pigment”: textured non-woven wallpapers that can be coated with a customized color. The world at such an international trade fair is small, as you will suddenly notice not just because of all the different languages that form the babble backdrop, but also from the remark of the distribution expert, who says an especially strong and rip-proof non-woven wallpaper is especially suited for earthquake regions. And he’s dead serious.

The industry is on a cusp, among other things thanks to a new technique that Hewlett Packard presents in Hall 4.1. with real-life machines, namely digital printing not only for paper but for non-wovens and for fabrics. This creates new possibilities, better repeating patterns, sharper and more realistic prints, at a low cost and a high speed.

Textile designer Iris Maschek who has her booth in the same hall praises the new technology, displaying graphic-somber prints that bid farewell to the customary stereotypes of water-color blossoms or checks, with a morbid, highly poetic and stylistically striking take on them. Maschek works with manufacturers like Christian Fischbacher or Arte and is a bit of a welcome ray of light at the fair, despite her dark colors. She knows how to create a unique look in the midst of all the commercial designs in the main market.

A similarly melancholic sensuality and dark tones is to be found at the new wallpaper joint venture of Omexco and Belgian design team Maison Martin Margiela. Strongly rastered, outsized rose bloom prints or intimated stone marble veining with crystalline finishes are an extraordinary notion for wallpaper. Industries often win out if the designers dare glance beyond the edges of their own little world. As the collaboration between Austro-architects Coop Himmelb(l)au and the traditional Viennese weavers at Backhausen shows. The fabrics the architects created have a graphic pattern that makes them resemble some amorphous-technoid shrouds for their buildings.

To wrap things up after a day at the Heimtextil: It’s worth scratching the surface. Between all the fabrics and patterns a few manufacturers offer surprisingly refined products. The industry’s on an up, if only because it is again daring to go beyond its established borders and try out new concepts. A visit to the Heimtextil is thus a good beginning, albeit one bereft of that many highlights, to the 2014 interior design fairs that we will attend over the next few days – hoping to witness something special.

Greetings from the neon-pop-punk – trend no. 1.
How I can dance green?
Fabric with integrated feathers by ATT Rotex, Taiwan.
Technology + nature: 3D printed „Mycelium Chair“ by Eric Klarenbeek.
Wood? No, fabric! By Punikim Textiles.
Just one flowerplay of many, in hall 4.1.
„Barn the Boon“ is a london based wood carver.
Pleated digitally printed fabric becomes „Opulence“-wall covering by Élitis.
Grandmas flower style, in the trend forum.
Bling bling everywhere, especially in the trend forum.
Lingerie for the wall – at Élitis.
Linen with Lurex embroidery by Casadeco.
„Squares“ of the new „Le Corbusier“ collection by Arte.
Hewlett Packard presents its digital printers in hall 4.1.
Unusual wall covering: Maison Martin Margiela for Omexco.
„Pigment“ by Architects Paper A.S. Creation - wallpapers coated with a customized color.
Home fabric which is perfumed at Spanisch company Pyton.
„Circles“ fabric collection designed by architects of Coop Himmelb(l)au for Backhausen.
„Early Bird“ by Christian Fischbacher.