Birdie Paper Knife
Winner of a Design Plus 2012 Award: ‘Birdie Paper Knife’ letter opener by Yohei Oki
(Image credit: Yohei Oki)

Europe may have been in the grips of a cold snap last week, but we resisted the urge to hibernate and made the annual journey to the Ambiente trade fair in Frankfurt. Held in the sprawling Messe Frankfurt grounds, Ambiente once again served up a vast selection of new tabletop products, living accessories and gift items from across the globe.

This year the fair had noticeably extended its reach, with exhibitors and designers coming from as far a field as Benin and Ecuador. Japan, now home to several Messe Frankfurt fairs itself, also had a strong presence.

Meanwhile, the fair's partnership with Denmark proved a hit - even securing a visit from Danish royalty (Princess Benedikte). Brands like Normann Copenhagen, Stelton and Georg Jensen all had strong stands, and there was plenty of inspiring ecologically-minded products to be found in Denmark's exhibition on sustainability.

Also a highlight was an exhibition curated by product designer Sebastian Bergne - the man of the moment when it comes to tableware (glimpse of his forthcoming show in London here). Titled 'Solutions', the show focused on innovation and functionality in product design.

The fair halls were also noticeably brought to a life by a refreshing smattering of neon hues, courtesy of German brands like e15 and Koziol, with the latter exhibiting a fetching collection of rainbow insulated cups by Wallpaper* Handmade contributor Matteo Thun.

Another Wallpaper* Handmade collaborator attracting attention was JIA, who won no less than three Design Plus awards at the fair for items such as its chopstick and spoon set.  

Cling Clock

Cling Clock' by Michael Remerich

(Image credit: Michael Remerich)

Food storage boxes

Food storage boxes by Takumi Shimamura for Qurz Inc

(Image credit: Takumi Shimamura)

Geo Thermos

Geo Thermos from Normann Copenhagen, shown as part of Ambiente's partnership with Denmark

(Image credit: press)

Eco-friendly glass bottle

Eco-friendly glass bottle by 'Retap', shown in the Danish exhibition focusing on sustainability

(Image credit: press)

Luminous clocks

Luminous' clocks by Italian design company Diamantini & Domeniconi

(Image credit: Diamantini & Domeniconi)

Koziol insulated cups

Koziol insulated cups by Matteo Thun

(Image credit: Matteo Thun)

Stool for Materia

Stool by Fernando Brizio for Materia

(Image credit: Fernando Brizio)

Salt and pepper shakers

Salt and pepper shakers by Nendo for Materia

(Image credit: Nendo)

A selection of tableware

A selection of tableware from the Korko 'Soul Mate' collection

(Image credit: Korko)

Sofa trays

Sofa' trays from the Korko 'Soul Mate' collection

(Image credit: Korko)

Electric blender stick

The Bodum electric blender stick

(Image credit: Bodum)

Inflatable table

Inflatable table by Philipp Beisheim

(Image credit: Philipp Beisheim)

A series of objects

Young designer Margaux Keller created a series of objects called 'Shameless', inspired by the social taboo about taking the last piece of cake or drinking the last drop of wine. Pictured is an aperitif tray, titled 'To Hide the Last Piece.

(Image credit: Margaux Keller)

Finish the Last Drop

Finish the Last Drop' by Margaux Keller, from her 'Shameless' collection

(Image credit: Margaux Keller)

Plate to Lick with your Finger

Plate to Lick with your Finger' by Margaux Keller, from her 'Shameless' collection

(Image credit: Margaux Keller)

Wrappie lamp

Wrappie' lamp by Tomasz Pydo of PYDO Design

(Image credit: Tomasz Pydo)

Chopsticks and spoon

Winner of a Design Plus 2012 Award: chopsticks and spoon set by JIA

(Image credit: JIA)

Winner of a Design Plus

Winner of a Design Plus 2012 Award: wok by JIA

(Image credit: JIA)

Kate Chung Design

Winner of a Design Plus 2012 Award: 'Abundance' airtight canisters by Kate Chung Design for JIA

(Image credit: JIA)

Japanese paper masking tapes

Winner of a Design Plus 2012 Award: 'Japanese paper masking tapes' by Koji Iyama for MT

(Image credit: Koji Iyama)

Crumpled City

Crumpled City'  map by Emanuele Pizzolorusso for MeterMorphosen

(Image credit: Emanuele Pizzolorusso)

Functional household products

Solutions', an installation curated by London-based product designer Sebastian Bergne, focusing on innovative and functional household products. Pictured is the 'Junior Kitchen Knife' by Tim Mälzer and collapsible produce keepers by Progressive

(Image credit: Sebastian Bergne)

A pan from over-boiling and splattering

Kochblume pot lids, designed to prevent a pan from over-boiling and splattering, shown as part of the 'Solutions' installation, curated by Sebastian Bergne

(Image credit: Sebastian Bergne)

Ergonomic handheld mixer

Winner of a Design Plus 2012 Award: Ergonomic handheld mixer by Oxo Good Grips, shown as part of the 'Solutions' installation, curated by Sebastian Bergne

(Image credit: Sebastian Bergne)

The German Design Award

CH04 Houdini', designed by Stegan Diez for e15. It won the German Design Award 2012 at Ambiente

(Image credit: Stegan Diez)

Ecologically cultivated cereals

Ecologically cultivated cereals by traditional Nordic company Skaertoft Mølle

(Image credit: Skaertoft Mølle)

Chopping board and placemat

Chopping board and placemat by Flip

(Image credit: Flip)

Finnish company IndoorGarden

Herb:ie' by Finnish company IndoorGarden, designed to grow herbs indoors

(Image credit: IndoorGarden)


Herb:ie' by Finnish company IndoorGarden

(Image credit: IndoorGarden)


Super-light by Fehlign & Peiz for Kraud

(Image credit: Fehlign & Peiz)

Teac cup

 Tea cup by Laura Bougdanos and Vesa Jääskö for Finnish company Magisso

(Image credit: Magisso)

Lemon squeezer

OMA' lemon squeezer by Jenni Ojala and Susanna Hoikkala for Tonfisk

(Image credit: Jenni Ojala and Susanna Hoikkala)

Tea canisters

Winner of a silver German Design Award: 'Karumi' tea canisters by Dr. Satishi Yasushima and Dr. Tomoko Honda for Roji Associates

(Image credit: press)

Part of the classic collection

Part of the classic collection from Rosenthal's studio-line, designed by Tapio Wirkkala, re-issued in limited edition for 2012

(Image credit: Tapio Wirkkala)

The new collection

Nendoo', the new collection by Rosenthal

(Image credit: Rosenthal)

Refillable hot and cold liquids bottle

Refillable hot and cold liquids bottle by Spanish lunchbox Omami

(Image credit: Omami)

Lunch box

Lunch box by Omami

(Image credit: Omami)

Porcelain cup

Fika' tray and porcelain cup by Kinto

(Image credit: Kinto)

Steam Pot

Steam Pot Cocoon' by Kinto

(Image credit: Kinto)

Lauren Ho is the former travel editor at Wallpaper*. Now a contributing editor, she roams the globe, writing extensively about luxury travel, architecture and design for both the magazine and the website, alongside various other titles. She is also the European Academy Chair for the World's 50 Best Hotels.