While I can't say that I've been to more trade shows than I've had hot dinners I can say that I'm a fully paid-up trade show veteran. So far this year I've been to four and we haven't even hit March's shows yet. A couple of weeks ago I made my maiden voyage to Ambiente in Frankfurt a B2B consumer goods show with an emphasis on living, giving and dining.
I had three days scheduled for the show and honestly, I thought that would be plenty. In reality, I didn't see more than half. I have a game plan I follow for new shows - research the exhibitors before I go so I can see the ones I'm really interested in, target the contemporary interiors section first and then retreat to the press room - if available - and ask the press team what I shouldn't miss. While I followed my own advice the sheer volume of exhibitors and my own curiosity conspired to derail me.
Every single member of the Ambiente team was eminently helpful and incredibly personable. But it didn't stop there; the exhibitors were friendly and happily passed on details of products and contacts. It doesn't sound like a lot to ask but you'd be surprised how often this isn't the case. I did an awful lot of walking which is to be expected but plenty of stands were demonstrating cookware and coffee machines, which meant lots of nibbles and good coffee was on offer. I heard rumors of some great wine tastings too, but in true professional reporter mode I was head down and punched on.
As part of the press tour of Ambiente, I attended a product speed dating event - I tell you it was a close run thing and I nearly hooked up with a bin. It was a rather spectacular bin. Helpfully though during this session I found some of my favourite finds and then went to hunt them down in the halls.
Below are six of my favourite finds in concrete and metal from Ambiente, let me know which ones you like too. It seems metal and concrete are clearly rocking my world....
Tel Aviv-based 1of135 creates bold distinct limited-edition wall art. Combining the traits of graphic design, art and interior design their affordable art is a visual exploration of creativity and thought. Their Gold Ambience and Rose Gold mixed media pieces were a particular favourites of mine.
Danish brand Hübsch always has some crowd pleasers and at Ambiente what I really loved was their lamps. As an affordable line it delivers with some great design details plus I really like how each season there is a refresh and additions to the collection.
likeconcrete.com was probably my no.1 favourite find because I really like concrete - I blame those years living in a listed brutalist building. They showcased a range of concrete home accessories that were beautiful in their finish and very covetable particularly the coat hooks Freja. What’s more, they even have eco credentials, when the items reach the end of their life the organic concrete can be broken up and used in the garden!
Georg Jensen’s Manhattan bar collection was a winner in my eyes especially given the rise of bar carts seen at the trade shows in the last 6 months. Manhattan takes its influence from Art Deco, with references to George Jensen archive pieces. It’s clean lines and symmetry making it compellingly decorative even with all its simplicity.
I'm particularly fascinated when unexpected materials are used to create everyday items. So imagine my jaw dropping when I discovered a company that uses concrete to make pens, watches, wall clocks and even jewelry. Welcome to IntoConcrete a company that quite literally breaks the mold with premium concrete production.
Skultuna always produces appealing pieces that catch my magpie eye. With a 400-year pedigree making in the same brass factory, it's a brand that has kept up with the pace of change. They utilize design talents like GamFratesi, Paolo Dell’Elce and jeweler Maria Nilsdotter to create covetable collections.
All product lifestyle images supplied by brands listed.