Digitalisation is directly influencing our home environments: heavy, voluminous furniture is disappearing, and a trend for light, airy furnishings is emerging in the interiors industry. Many consumers prefer minimalist furniture and clearly structured design as a beacon of calm in the digital age – something that a visit to imm cologne 2019 confirmed.
On a tour of the halls of imm cologne 2019, a trend for minimalist design could be clearly seen at large numbers of stands: small upholstered furniture perched on delicate metal legs, monochrome design in clear colours, open living room walls units that replace bookshelves, and pared-down lighting or storage systems. “Less is more” seems to be the rule everywhere.
But where does this development come from? Digitalisation is extending into all spheres of life, and it is also playing an increasingly important role in furniture and interior decor. Now that thousands of books can be stored on a smartphone and MP3 players are replacing classic stereo systems, large-scale storage units or bookshelves are disappearing from the living room and the home office. In their place, manufacturers like Team 7 are launching wall units. These units consist of high wooden wall modules with small integrated surfaces where selected souvenirs, a beautifully designed favourite book or a handful of decorative pieces can be positioned.
As an antidote to the non-stop sensory overload of the Internet and digital media, many people are looking for a clearly structured environment. Storage space is being replaced with display surfaces, or it is presented with a very minimalist look. A prime example of this is the DHS10 shelving system in Richard Lampert’s collection. It consists of slender tubular steel ladders into which shelves, back panels or cabinet units are inserted. Lighting that ties in with this pared-down look can be stunning when minimum materials are used for maximum effect, such as in the Méditerranéa series by young French furniture brand Petite Friture. A dynamic yet decorative light radiates from the intricate geometric metal cut-outs in the luminaire head.
Greater lightness also defines the furnishing of rooms with seating furniture and tables: upholstered furniture rests on narrow tubular steel legs, or it adds accents as compact, sculptural-looking seating with its clear colours and high-quality materials. By contrast, giant corner sofas with coordinating armchairs are becoming rarities. But there’s no shortage of comfort in the new models. Take Astair by Ligne Roset for instance. The chair is a contemporary take on the traditional wingback armchair. At e15’s stand, linear upholstered furniture in solid blue and orange contrasted with rugs in natural tones that stood alongside long tables with a stripped-down design.
Ultra-pared-down seating furniture like the Paper chair by Desalto, made from thin glass-fibre-reinforced polypropylene, is visually and literally light, but still provides a wonderfully comfortable seat. The trend for lightness continues outdoors with furniture such as the Maraca lounger by ames, covered in textiles in a bold blocked-stripe pattern. In tables, a trend is emerging for small mobile designs such as the MR 515 series by Thonet with transparent round glass tabletops or podia by horgenglarus, made from solid wood on a subdued metal frame. Simple yet beautiful individual standout pieces such as Lola by Schönbuch make a statement while doubling as a hallway wardrobe or room divider.
The pattern in the wool rug Slope, designed by trendsetter Hella Jongerius for Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat, achieves its effect through innovative simplicity. The colour gradation of the stripes fades as it moves from one edge to the other as if a brushstroke had not been enough to fill the whole line with colour. In bathroom furniture, designer Stefan Diez takes the minimalist trend to extremes with his new system rgb for burgbad: transparent glass elements mounted on vertical profiles are combined to form containers with no rear panels as their sides are completely flush with the wall. This ingenious trade fair innovation is the result of intense development work and close collaboration between the manufacturer and the designer.
As this selection shows, the trend for reduced furnishings does not restrict manufacturers, interior architects and designers by any means. Far from it. A love of details and good planning pay off in minimalist design, and they are opening up new fields of activity, including new opportunities for retailers.