When panels are the new fitting!

Flexibility and functionality defined the exhibits, and workshops focussed on new concepts in living spaces at Interzum (Cologne, Germany) this year, reports Dhananjay Sardeshpande

A German start-up, Ambigence, presented a completely new product category at this year’s Interzum. It starts from a simple principle – instead of seeing the furniture panel and fittings as two separate components, they are conceived as a single unit.

With its motto, ‘The panel is the new fitting’, the company offered a novel system of furniture elements in which the door fittings (manufactured by Hettich) completely disappear into the side walls of the modules.

“We no longer consider furniture side elements and fittings as two separate components, but rather as one unit,” said Mr Norbert Poppenborg, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Ambigence.

He explained how the company sees this as “the perfect fusion of design and technology, which makes it possible to rethink furniture while also opening up new fields of innovation and business.” The innovative integration technique allows for the creation of purist furniture with flawless surfaces.

Mini components

Many exhibitors at Interzum 2019 presented systems, fittings and lighting solutions that serve as flexible design elements for a holistic home architecture. ‘Intentek’, the wireless charging surface from the Formica Group also does away with visible technology: all that can be seen is a beautiful, unbroken surface finish. Intentek is a laminate with integrated charging technology, which is incorporated into the coating surface.

This allows mobile phones, tablets and other mobile devices to be charged as safely and reliably as with standard cables. The 5x5-cm charging zone can be accommodated within any of Formica’s single-colour laminates. The arrangement and number of zones are custom-designed for each project.

Increasing flexibility and multi-functionality in furniture is going hand in hand with rising standards for technical solutions. Austrian manufacturer Grass presented a world first at the event – the thinnest and most efficient flap fitting that the company has ever developed.

Kessebohmer also presented a new flap fitting that is significantly different from the previous standard solutions on the market in its dimensions, design and functions. A profile in a minimalist design and various heights is the key feature of the multifunctional drawer concept by Italian exhibitor Salice, which won the Interzum award.

Another example was Schuco’s ‘Open Style’ system which allows spaces to be flexibly joined or subdivided in line with requirements and the current living situation. Vauth-Sagel, the storage specialist, premiered solutions for all areas of the home. Hettich presented multi-functional new products for different living situations.

Pure surfaces

The material ‘Fenix NTM’, from the Italian company Arpa, produces extremely tough surfaces with a velvety soft feel in a matt colour palette. The application of a nano-coating containing acrylic resin protects them from fingerprints or scratches; superficial micro scratches can even be repaired with the application of heat!

Shimmering reflections of light are the distinguishing features of ‘Kristall Metallic’, a hard-wearing, high-gloss surface containing acrylic glass from the furniture parts supplier, Niemann. The material’s glossy properties are provided by evenly distributed metallic pigments. The composite material consists of a wood-based substrate with a coating of acrylic glass, making it break-proof and abrasion-resistant.

In order to create metallic 3D effects on furniture, Manetti Design from Italy has developed hot-stamping foils for panels, boards and profiles made from PVC, wood or MDF. The surfaces are resistant to chemical and mechanical influences and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

The range from Alpi Wood includes real wood veneer collections, which have been crafted by internationally renowned designers to emphasise the beauty of the material and its surfaces. Numerous stands at Interzum also presented laminates whose wood-based finishes have an incredibly realistic look and feel, such as those exhibited by Schattdecor.

German manufacturer Homapal showcased the deceptively realistic-looking marble finishes on its ‘Aquaris SpaSystem’, which is very quick to install. The panels are 100% waterproof as they are made of closed-cell polyurethane foam with HPL coating on both sides.

Apart from visitors from Germany, the most strongly represented European nations were Italy, France, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Significant increases were seen in visitors from Asia (+22%), with particularly strong growth from China. The next Interzum will take place from 4 to 7 May, 2021, in Cologne.

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