Heimtextil, the largest trade fair for interior textiles in the world, takes place each January in Frankfurt, Germany. This is where interior designers, architects and retail buyers go to source new fabrics and spot emerging design trends.
Each year, a group of prominent visionaries are chosen to identify the key themes for the upcoming season, and are given the freedom to design museum-quality, visually stimulating exhibits to show products that can be found at the trade fair that support their findings. Their deliverables also include a 45 minute presentation and a book. This year’s exhibit was spectacular, as usual!
Kate Franklin and Caroline Till from the FranklinTill Design Consultancy were responsible for developing the vision for the Trend Forum 2014. Their research often goes beyond textiles and includes influences to design in all disciplines.
Progress!/Revive! describes how there are many opposites in design direction today. “Progress” embraces new technology, and is broken down into the following sub-themes:
Generate Collision: Harness Technology to Produce New and Unexpected Results
This theme celebrates new designs created with emerging technologies that allow experimentation that has not been seen before. Examples include:
- Matthew Plummer Fernandez’ Digital Native Project where he created 3D printed objects that originated as images that he then distorted using algorithms to deform the shape mathematically.
- The Absolute Unique project, where a limited edition of four million uniquely designed and numbered bottles, were created.
- Philip Stearns’ Year of the Glitch project, where the designer explores glitches in electronic systems, both accidental and staged, that produce pleasing results in design and other mediums.
The fabrics on display tended to be bright and playful, and included many patterns created using digital printing technology, a process only now becoming feasible for mass production, that allows much greater freedom to experiment with pattern and color than traditional textile printing methods.
Engineer Nature: Searching for a Sustainable Future in the Adaptation of Nature
This theme explores the potential of the partnership between science and nature with design. Examples of work that reflects this idea include:
- Suzanne Lee’s Bio Couture project focuses on researching ways to convert natural plant and animal products into new materials.
- Carole Collet’s Biolace investigates the intersection of synthetic biology and fabric design to propose future fabrication processes for textiles.
- Natsai Chieza’s textile dyes made from bacteria.
The fabrics on display were all composed of man-made materials and often used technologies such as laser cutting, fiber entanglement, embellishment and photorealistic printing.
“Revive” describes the impulse to look back, and also has two sub-themes:
Exalt Purity: Reductionist design, which lets materials in their purest form speak for themselves.
This theme celebrates natural materials, connecting with the land we inhabit, resulting in a primitive, yet modern aesthetic that connects the man-made and natural worlds. Examples include:
- Alex Cochrane’s Silence Room at Selfridge’s Department Store in London.
- Forma Fantastica, a project where Fendi designers explored using leather made from normally disposed of fish skins to make luxury products.
- The Iceland Whale Bone Project, where, under the supervision of, under the supervision of Brynjar Sigurðarson, students create products from the bones of beached whales.
In this section of the exhibit, the fabrics were made from all natural materials, and showcased many constructions and color application techniques for a variety of end uses.
Rejuvenate Craft: The techniques of traditional manual skills of arts and crafts that lead to authenticity.
This theme reflects the desire for crafted objects which indicates a need for physical connections and community in an increasingly virtual world. Examples included:
- Allbriton Robbins and Hema Patel’s Drift Relief Project, where the two artists painted bright colors and patterns on driftwood and debris collected from the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy, and are now selling the colorful artifacts online to benefit those who lost so much.
- Pernille Hanson’s Marbellous Wood Project, where the artist has repurposed an old marbling technique, giving nordic wood a supernatural, organic, colorful and vibrant pattern.
- Small Weavings, by Kelly Rakowski and Alex Segreti, which explores small handwoven designs.
The fabrics on display in this labyrinth included some hand-made and many machine-made products that provide the crafted aesthetic. The colors ranged from neutrals to colors that had the quality of having been dyed with organic colorants.
See More Of What’s Trending in Fabric:
Check out 40 of Heimtextil’s most innovative fabrics up close and personal in 40 Fabulous Fabrics.