Between Paris and Stockholm, our yearly pilgrimage of European design fairs got off to a promising start. The next stop was Germany, where the latest edition of the Ambiente trade fair saw a plethora of design excellences across the globe gathered under the roof of the Messe Frankfurt grounds.

This year, Japan joined as the fair's international guest of honour, following in the footsteps of former partner countries Denmark and France. Design ambassador Yukio Hashimoto curated the Super Ennichi exhibition, a vibrant display of products and an opportunity for visitors to see examples of Japanese craft in action.

The country was also represented in full force with a strong outing at the Japan Creative Show; brands like Yamaha and Sanyo PVC collaborated with designers such as Ron Gilad and Jasper Morrison. Embodying a fine-tuned synergy between Japanese finesse and Western aesthetics, the small but perfectly formed exhibition was a delightful insight into the country’s finest.
Highlights from the halls included the annual roster of awards, which included an enticing 'best of' display. Among these was the German Design Award, held for the third year by the German Design Council to 'honour outstanding products and projects from product and communication design, as well as design personalities and newcomers'.

The Personality of the Year accolade went to designer and one-time Wallpaper* Design Awards judge Gerd Bulthaup for his exceptional life achievements, while Munich-based Italian designer Christian Zanzotti scooped Newcomer of the Year. Also on display in the exhibition halls was the Design Plus Award, recognising projects that seamlessly combine aesthetics and function.

A roll call of young talent stepped up to make their mark alongside established brands, including a selection of 13 designers and makers focusing on pottery. Hailing from the Czech Republic, Israel, Germany and the UK, the craftsmen showcased a superb blend of artisanal skills and creativity.

Another highlight was Sebastian Bergne’s 'Solutions' exhibition (now in its third year at the fair), celebrating intelligent household designs with clever solutions to everyday problems, this time with a special focus on portability and 'on the move' products.