Ambiente is becoming the go-to focus for international bloggers and writers for online interior design magazines. It’s where they find the best input about trends for their platforms, and multiple instagrammable brand experiences to boot. We met some of them to hear what they made of Ambiente. They all agreed that the industry is really getting behind the mega trend of sustainability – and you could see this in all the halls. Find out here why bloggers have a keen interest in this area, and much more besides.
Sustainability no longer just for niche products
It felt like meeting up with old friends, except they didn’t know one another in real life beforehand. When they met at Ambiente’s ‘Flowers in Scene’ design café, the online authors and bloggers soon started some lively discussions. Nicolette Naumann, Vice President of Ambiente, welcomed them, gave them an introduction to the fair and confirmed what they thought: “You’re right that the idea of sustainability is having an increasing impact on Ambiente. Companies which hadn’t previously prioritised this aspect are now offering 100 percent organic product lines and using plastics which can be recycled easily. Established companies which have always created products such as ceramics or glass in a sustainable way are now talking about this aspect – something they hadn’t done before.” Naturally, bloggers have a soft spot for niche products, and often sing the praises of items which are both handmade and sustainable. Nicolette Naumann had a surprise in store for them: “However much I love those niche products, they can’t solve the problem on their own. We need the industry to get involved.” This really set the tone for the major topic of responsible products, which the bloggers took with them on their voyages of discovery around the trade fair.
Upcycling’s on the up
Shelby Wax had travelled the furthest: all the way from New York, for her first visit to Ambiente. With a background in media studies, she now writes for the online lifestyle publication Lonny Magazine. She’s an enthusiastic visitor: “I find it absolutely fascinating how international it is, although Ambiente is also full of local designers, manufacturers and producers. It’s amazing to find such unique design in today’s globalised world. I can get up to date really easily here in Frankfurt.” This American visitor noticed something about the trends: “There are a lot of transparent surfaces, which I love. And a new neutrality: grey is clearly the new pink!” Shelby joins the others in seeing great growth potential in sustainability. She is sure that upcycling in particular will gain in popularity over the next ten years.
Bottles made from soap
Johannes Eich and Pierre Starkloff, bloggers at Schoenhaesslich, observed: “It strikes us that a lot of exhibitors are making their stands ever more instagrammable, more ‘insta-friendly’. They’re using colours to create a strong visual, so visitors will show and share their experience on social media. That’s seen as really important.” Last year the bloggers concentrated on original gift items, but this year there was no escaping the omnipresent trend: “The issue of sustainability strikes you straight away. For us, the highlight was a soap bottle made from soap. Even if you only replaced shampoo bottles, that would save so much plastic each year. And once again the ‘Talents’ area is brilliant, you see completely new things which the industry and big companies haven’t thought of. On the subject of ‘Talents’, our highlight was a circular acoustic insulation panel in a pastel colourway. It’s so neat! We started snapping it straight away with our smartphones.”
The Scandinavian perspective
Full-time blogger Niki Brantmark lives in Sweden, but is originally from London. She’s already written several books about the typical Swedish lifestyle. She notes that there’s currently an upturn in blogging, and personal perspectives are increasingly filtering through, past the commercialisation. “At Ambiente I’m on the lookout for things that make people happy. I saw natural materials, earth-coloured tones and handmade pieces.” Before travelling back to Malmö, she concluded happily: “Each time I visit Frankfurt I discover something new, I just love coming back here. This trade fair is a sort of annual pilgrimage for me.”
Marja Wickman comes from Finland and it was her first time here. To her surprise, she found a small, brand-new Finnish label “offering totally cool clothing for dogs”. So maybe you do need to travel to Frankfurt to discover hidden treasures from your own home? Marja’s main job is as an interior art director based in Helsinki, but her blog ‘Marjawickman’ has been online since 2012, has won many awards and is one of the 38-year-old’s favourite projects. Her philosophy is: Don’t get hung up on how many followers you’ve got. “It creates a dependency, and I want to stay relaxed about it.”
The idea of a strong visual really connects with interior architect Nicole Maalouf from Munich. The magazine ‘SoLebIch’ that she founded 13 years ago explores the wonderful world of interior lifestyles. The SoLebIch Apartments in Munich and Cologne are a new concept. They’re in interesting historic buildings, and act as temporary get-together locations for design lovers. Their creator says: “I really love the Trends area in the Ambiente Galleria. I wish it could be even bigger. Ambiente is always inspiring, partly because – unlike online – you can experience the look and feel of the products, which I think is particularly important for porcelain. I also think graphic representations of animals are lovely, and there are some great ones here. There was a study which said that looking at sleeping animals makes people happy.” Nicole noticed manufacturers who are applying clever designs and on-trend colours to food containers, so people can bring them to the supermarket, and also shop stylishly. “It’s an example of the industry adapting clearly to demand.” Nicole believes one benefit for her of visiting Ambiente is to communicate new products and discoveries quickly to followers through her own platforms. She concludes: “You need to be at Ambiente if you want to join in the conversation. I’d encourage everyone to come, it’s a really exciting trade fair. It’s good that it identifies themes to focus on, because there’s simply so much there.”
For the love of beauty
Jo Yana was one of France’s first design bloggers. His blog Joyana is a strikingly colourful mixture of design universe, art gallery and entertainment. Originally from Marseilles, the amiable Frenchman has his own idea of how to plan a trade fair. He visits almost all of them, regularly, worldwide. “I go through the rows of exhibitors’ stands very quickly and trust my trained eye, having been to many trade fairs before. You need a good eye and good images, I post them without a lot of text. Ambiente is great to photograph. The extensive area for tableware is worth mentioning, I found some beautifully shaped drinking glasses there.” Jo is very pleased that sustainability is so high-profile. His philosophy “For the love of beauty” is adapted from Oscar Wilde and speaks to us all. He enthusiastically describes a visit to the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art, which has only added to the kaleidoscope of visual experiences for him to reflect on. “The best thing about a blog is that it belongs to the blogger. It frees you up. I’m thinking about making podcasts too.”
Building a brand experience now involves social media as standard. That means companies need to be instagrammable if they want word of their latest products to go viral among the digital natives. Our bloggers and online writers could see that exhibitors at Ambiente increasingly emphasise this aspect. They commented in particular on the use of colour and elaborately designed stands, which invite visitors to make photographic statements. The overarching theme of sustainability was also discussed. Companies with a sustainability strategy are known to be stronger innovators than those without. The rule of thumb is to be sustainable – and show that you are, something even traditional manufacturers are now doing with new product lines. Our bloggers found it easy to talk to companies and designers, with some finding partners for collaborations. All the time, they were also clicking away, taking photos to fill their online platforms. When it was time to go, they all said: “We’ll be back!”