If it's true that in times of difficulty people look back and forward - back to understand how predecessors coped in similar circumstances and forward to see how solutions might be provided by future generations - then the design world is doing well. IMM Cologne, the first fair of the year, was notable principally for the number of reissues and the strength of the new talent on show.
The big brands don’t necessarily use Cologne as a platform to launch new products and hence it has a reputation as more of a business fair. Unlike Maison or Milan there’s time and space to meet and talk and you’re more likely to see a new finish on an existing design than stand after stand of new launches.
The more interesting things tend to happen away from the main stands and this year was no exception. The young designers or ‘talents’ put on a good display of design in response to current problems and needs. The ‘Passagen’ or fringe events that take place around the city, though chaotically curated in parts, included some charming exhibitions and interesting launches, many focusing on solution-based design.
Mike Meire, at the launch of his Global Street Food exhibition, summed up the feel of the fair as a whole: ‘It’s time to return to reality’, he said and, after a glut of extreme, sometimes overindulgent design in the past two years, the reality looks refreshingly good. If you couldn’t make it there, we’ve broken the event down into our favourite highlights (below and right).

global food

Global Street Food

The fairgrounds

The main halls

Hotel Chelsea

Hotel Chelsea

d3 competition

d3 competition

Ligne Roset

Ligne Roset

Origins by Satyendra Pakhale

Origins by Satyendra Pakhale

Designers' Fair

Designers' Fair

Reissues

Reissues

New designers

New designers