Planning events during a global pandemic is not an easy exercise and it seems like the dates for when things may fully return to normal is continually getting pushed back.

Cologne-based Interzum (May 4-7), held in the spring every two years, is the world’s leading trade fair for furniture production and interior design, attracting 74,000 visitors at the 2019 event, over 55,000 of which came from outside Germany.

It is massively popular event, with 1,805 exhibitors taking part last time around as they sought to attract designers and manufacturers looking for innovative solutions for tomorrow’s homes.

Wood, veneers, parquet flooring, interior works, decorative surfaces, décor papers, laminates, wood-based panels, laminated plastic, mineral materials, edges, surface treatments, embossing cylinders and press plates can all be seen at the event.

Interzum organiser Koelnmesse has been tracking pandemic developments and exhibitor sentiment to assess how it can best re-create its unique show offering safely and effectively.

The answer is a hybrid event, which allows for physical and digital participation, allowing visitors to interact with exhibitors regardless of what Covid-19 regulations and guidance may be place in May.

The digital side of the event is called interzum@home and, says Koelnmesse, will allow for flexibility and a greater audience reach than normal for the event.

Hybrid Event

“With interzum 2021, we’ll again be offering suppliers to the furniture industry and interior design sector their global stage for new products and trends, with an even more extensive digital offering,” said Matthias Pollmann, vice-president trade fair management at Koelnmesse.

“We know that many companies are in favour of a purely digital event because of the uncertainty surrounding the development of the pandemic right now.

“That’s why we’ve decided on a concept with participation options that offer the greatest possible degree of flexibility, with a clear focus on the digital presence and therefore on interzum@home.”

To that end Interzum has decided it will offer every exhibitor the option of purely digital participation. Previously, inclusion on interzum@home was already included with a classic, physical presence at the trade fair for all exhibitors.

“Various digital-only packages will be available for the purpose, allowing companies to participate solely in the form of a digital presence on interzum@home 2021 – a presence that’s a perfect fit with their needs,” said Interzum director Maik Fischer.

“In addition, there is another new alternative for participation that serves as a kind of intermediary between the two possibilities outlined above: the option of taking part in the “interzum@home hall”, where Koelnmesse will provide interested exhibitors with a physical trade fair presence that includes the construction of an attractive booth in three different sizes and can be used as a springboard and connecting element between the trade fair in Cologne and the exhibitor’s interzum@ home presence.

“With this additional exhibition format, we’re offering companies the right framework for a safe and upmarket presentation in a compact space.”

That way, exhibitors get the best of both worlds, according to Mr Fischer.

The addition of digital showrooms, stages, workshops and cafés is designed for the reach of the event to go far wider than normal.

2021 Focus

Of course, with so many people home working now, the impact of Covid-19 on furniture and interior design is a big area of focus for Interzum this year.

In its blog, Interzum has been looking at trends beyond the pandemic.

“Looking into the future is not easy – and even more so when a pandemic is turning life upside down,” it says.

“It therefore remains to be seen whether the coronavirus crisis will have a lasting influence on home living. But it is already clear that existing developments in interior design have been strengthened and new issues have moved into focus.

“They are enhancing trends that have been transforming how we live for some time, such as increasing urbanisation, demographic change and digitalisation.

One thing is clear – interiors and furniture change with social developments and there is a new perspective on interior design.

“Due to the current situation, many people are currently spending more time than usual in their own homes. They are starting to see their homes differently as a result.

Working from a home office is also changing many people’s perspective on their personal environment, prompting them to rethink their interior décor or add new functions.

“Manufacturers of furniture and furniture accessories were already addressing these kinds of changes in our living environments before the coronavirus outbreak.

“They have developed new solutions for the general reduction in living space and the increasing connection between home life and work life. With the pandemic, these themes have assumed a new and growing significance.

Fittings manufacturer Hettich is promoting a home office concept to give families flexibility where there is home schooling going on, and the home office. This means many houses and apartments are taking on new functions, with interior designs adapting to the available space and different situations needed.

If living and working areas cannot be separated due to space shortages, multifunctional or modular furniture and furniture systems offer intelligent solutions.

These space-saving, practical concepts meet both functional needs and the desire for a place that feels like home.

Digital Printing

Digital printing will have an expanded focus this year at Interzum. By digital printing, printed images can be created dynamically and surfaces custom-designed to be individual.

That makes digital printing perfectly suited for industrial make-to-order production and one-off items.

A special Digital Printing trend showcase event will take place in the Materials & Nature segment, focusing on the various potential applications and the diversity of modern digital printing: on demand or customised, for use in direct printing or via image carriers.

It will seek to respond to every unanswered question from furniture manufacturers, designers, interiors experts and architects – whether on the subject of advantages and risks, technological and design challenges, printable materials or technical implementations.

The trend case will demonstrate the possibilities offered by digital printing to trade visitors and enable them to make direct business contacts with the appropriate suppliers.

Meanwhile, in the flooring segment, Interzum 2021 is dedicating its own special show to the topic of flooring.

Investments in interior construction with the areas of floors, walls and ceilings have not only increased since the coronavirus pandemic. Development of modern floor coverings is particularly exciting, due to numerous new materials and décors offering a growing variety in design and function.

In addition to product characteristics, the buying decisions are being more and more influenced by soft criteria such as sustainability, socially responsible production and recycling capability as well as low transport and energy costs.

A pavilion will offer German and international companies from this segment a presentation platform.

“Regarding the visitors, we are addressing floor layers, craftsmen, building owners and architects because almost a third of our trade fair visitors belong to these professions,” added Interzum director Maik Fischer. “Furthermore, our exhibitors are confirming the rapidly growing appeal of precisely this clientele.”

Customers are increasingly demanding higher-quality line-ups that cut a “clean figure” for many years after the initial installation or renovation – both in the commercial section as well as for implementation by property owners and private customers.

A new Glossy Line from Interzum exhibitor HOMAPAL will offer décors in mirror-gloss finish with “Cascade” structure.