Tough cookies. Newcomers with a special something.

They’re already successful in their own countries, and at Ambiente 2015, a total of 37 microenterprises from 16 countries ventured onto the international stage. Their fresh, creative ideas were presented at the ‘Next’ promotional areas. For us it was a great opportunity to have a look at some quite special collections.

‘The fortune you seek is in another cookie’ – Anja Schober discovered this nugget of wisdom in a fortune cookie. “I found this amusing piece of advice in a children’s restaurant and it focused my attention on the cookie itself”, says the Vienna-based jewellery designer. In her workshop she then reproduced the crisp cookie in acrylic glass into which she then inserts a paper strip and hangs the original handmade creation on a chain. The Austrian designer sells her fortune cookie jewellery in two sizes and a wide range of colours under the ‘heartware’ label. “With a pair of tweezers you can easily insert your own saying”, she adds.

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Right next door an indoor boomerang for the children’s bedroom or office flies past our ears. ‘My First Boomerang’ is the name of the educational toy from ‘TicToys’. Learning to throw safely is the idea behind the product. These lightweight toys can also be individually painted. “The boomerang comes originally from Europe. The oldest examples made from bone come from the Carpathian Mountains in Poland and are 35,000 years old”, according to Leipzig-based inventor Tony Ramenda. His ball-catching game ‘Ticayo’ also develops coordination and is based on a game originally played by the native inhabitants of Latin America.

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The manufacture of linen also has a very long history. Its timeless natural beauty lends a superior feel and look to diverse material mixes. The makers of ‘leingrau’ are well aware of the unique qualities of linen. The gems they showcased at the Ambiente ‘Next’ show – from bed linen to classic kitchen towels –demonstrated highly precise handworking skills. The young German company works with hand-weaving companies in Latvia and Lithuania where weaving with linen has a long tradition.

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Aren’t they Bollenhut pompom hats – part of the traditional costume worn by women from the Black Forest region? Not quite. They aren’t hats, they’re cushions. ‘Next’ exhibitor Sabine Keuneke-Grötz creates ‘Schwarzwald Art’, as she calls her quirky homeland collection. “I live in a 400-year-old Black Forest farmhouse. My cushions – and knitted hats – are completely new interpretations of a traditional headwear that is known far beyond the borders of Germany.” There’s a (voluntary) colour code here. Red pompoms for single women and black for those who are happily married. We then ask about the green and pink pompoms. “They’re for divorcees and women looking for partners”, she laughs. Frankfurt would certainly be more colourful if this fashion took off here.

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From head to foot. ‘Sanni Shoo’ has the answer for what to do with wet and muddy shoes and boots. The Swiss company has come up the idea for ‘shoo.pads’ that stop our footwear creating dirty, grey puddles on the floor once we take them off. They’re available in three different sizes – ideal for dad, mum and the kids. These revolutionary and stylish drip mats are now making a name for themselves outside Switzerland. “The machine-washable mats are made from elastic TPE and come with hangers. This is very important for the UK market we’ve discovered. The Brits love to hang things on the wall”, explains company founder Susanne ‘Sanni’ Richter.

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