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Bessie Nestoras

Market Report — Frankfurt, Germany

February 12, 2008 — Ambiente got off to a good start on Friday, February, 8, in Frankfurt, Germany, with plenty of buyers and vendors expressing their satisfaction with how the fair began. "It's too soon to tell, but things are looking good," one vendor told Gifts & Decorative Accessories.

The Ritzenhoff booth

 In fact, the fair was busy throughout the weekend, and by Monday there were still many buyers walking the show floors. So many, in fact, that it was sometimes difficult to get through certain halls. "This is better than any U.S. show I've been to this market season," said Joe Kim of Design Ideas.

Most of the vendors we spoke to were very pleased with business. Maria Buytaert, of Maria Buytaert Candles in Germany, said she was having a very good show. Another vendor pointed out that while traffic was steady, she felt the market was a little slow, but said the economy is slow and that could be a reson. Still, she had written 15 orders earlier in the day, so she “really couldn't complain.” Maurao Spigarelli of Spigarelli Ceramics said, "This is an important show. It's an order-writing show. It's an information show. And it's important to be here."

Gallery of Intros

Phillipe Deshoulieres
Phillipe Deshoulieres

There were plenty of new products on display this market. Phillipe Deshoulieres looked to pink when creating its new Margot dinnerware collection in two patterns so that the customer can mix and match. Also new is Key West, inspired by Miami, featuring a floral pattern in blue. In its gift collection, the company introduced Portraits, a set of four plates featuring the portraits of famous writers including Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Baudelaire. 

We also got a nice look at what's to come in April from Villeroy & Boch; the dinnnerware company has turned to the outdoors in its Urban Nature line. Influenced by a rustic concept, the dinner plates have organic shapes and feature a unique, bridged

Villeroy & Boch Rosemarie Benedikt

Rosemarie Benedikt 
for Villery & Boch

bowl that goes over a sitting plate to give table some height. Also new is Helioanthos, a dinnerware collection featuring sunflowers. Benedikt & Friends is a new giftware collection by German artist Rosemarie Benedikt. The line includes whimsical cats as figurines, on boxes, candlesticks and more.

The new Love Conquers All collection from Orrefors features pairs of champagne flutes, wine glasses and martini glasses, as well as a cake plate with a ring around the stems that reads Love Conquers All. Also from Orrefors, From Here to Eternity features a floating glass ring inside a glass block. The new pieces have a sentimental quality perfect for wedding gifts.

Rosenthal Donatella Versace
Donatella Versace for Rosenthal

Rosenthal introduced Flower Fantasy in its Versace collection. The pattern, by Donatella Versace, was taken from the archives from her ready to wear line. Also new are decorative pieces in the existing Dedalo collection.

Maria Buytaert Candles are made from paraffin and food grade wax, and are poured using a special technique that allows the wax to burn outward to create a scrolled shape. The designer was quick to point out that the candles are made in Germany; this is a selling point for buyers who want to avoid buying products that are made in China. In fact, this is a big issue in Frankfurt, and many vendors posted signs in their booths stating where the product is made. 

Trends: Glamour and Glitz
Black and white was a big color combination at this market, especially when paired with red. Many vendors also showcased a casual, shabby chic, almost French-flea-market look in their products. There were furniture pieces with a distressed look, and textiles featuring floral motifs in soft pink, blue and green, as well as brighter tones of red, blue, orange and green.



One company called Rice, out of Denmark, offered a wide selection of decorative accessories, kitchenware, clothing and textiles that would be right at home at American retailer Anthropolgie.

Meanwhile, glitz and glam continues strong in gifts. Many vendors offered wide selections of lighting with crystal and glass, as well as Baroque motifs. The look is a bit more kitschy than the sophisticated designs we have been seeing the last few markets. But its fun and youthful approach and is perfect for young, urban consumers.

Royal Crown Derby
Royal Crown Derby

Both silver and gold were used throughout as accent colors. Manufacturers are still inspired by the Far East, and Buddha figures could be found throughout the show. Some were sophisticated and others a bit more playful, like the sleeping baby Buddhas in silver and gold found at Present Time.

There were many American buyers walking the show floor. Crate & Barrell, The Container Store, Red Envelope, and other smaller retailers were also spotted. The big news for Messe Frankfurt is the Design Life show scheduled for July 4–8. There are 3,500 exhibitors already lined up for the new summer market, and since the show is taking place Over American Independence Day, Messe Frankfurt is hosting a party for its U.S. attendees.

Knock-offs are also a big issue here and three years ago, Messe Frankfurt began Messe Frankfurt Against Copying, and since its inception there are half the numbers of copies. Three years ago there were 1,000 copies, now less than 500 products are affected.

Next up, a look back at West Coast shows in Seattle and San Francisco.

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