imm cologne 2020 – Eight Design Trends and Contemporary Living Ideas

Koelnmesse Press / Danica Maricic, Editor-in-Chief

January 17, 2020


How we live is important to us. An ever-increasing number of people are considering how they can live and reside more sustainably and creatively, where they will live, with whom they will live, how their apartment or house should look so they can feel at home there and what the furnishings and interior decorations of their homes say about them. The international interiors show imm cologne, in Cologne, Germany, is a mirror image of current interior design trends and demonstrates the inventiveness of furniture brands.

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Stand: fischer möbel / Grüner Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Worldwide media and furniture trade fairs are where the discourse about the design and style of our aspects of life is taking place and acquires impulses. The international interiors show imm cologne presents contemporary directions in which living and housing are developing, for one in the presentations of the exhibitors, as well as in special exhibitions, competitions, discussions, and forums for the public and designers.

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Stand: burgbad / Grenzenloser Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Like nowhere else, it becomes clear here which needs and wishes are becoming linked with the design and décor of living space – indoor and outdoor. Interior styling is currently becoming increasingly cozy and colorful, and the theme of comfort appears to be dominated not only in private residences but also in commercial property and hospitality areas. Following the bathroom, the entrance area is now also being discovered as an object of design. The wish for a good interior design appears to become all the more important, the more one wishes to or needs to limit oneself to a few, high-quality furnishing elements in the home or office. This is because the conscious minimization of the number of furniture pieces is one of the trends characterizing contemporary interior design.

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Stand: KETTAL / Grüner Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Like in the fashion world, the pendulum seems to be moving from “more and more and cheaper and cheaper” toward a relative orientation to quality. In the creative process, there seem to be two stylistically and qualitatively differentiating main directions: while the culture of the interior, characterized by the design scene continues to prefer a reduced, simpler language of form with natural expression and materials, more glamour is called for in more traditional and in fashionable interior worlds: it should be refined, be originally expressive and possess classic charm.

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Stand: edra / Dekorativer Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx


Yes, the style of home and office are becoming more important. This is also an increasingly decisive factor for how life and work are organized, with concepts like co-working and co-living, the patchwork house or urban gardens. More innovative thought is also being given to the things we surround ourselves with, and we tend to look twice before making a decision in favor of a good piece of furniture or clothing. An orientation to quality does not necessarily exclude the search for bargains. While one person might research prices, the other researches the previous life of the item of furniture, including the origin of the materials, recycling capability and general harmlessness with regard to nature, climate and social standards. All agree that we want to live better: more comfortable, more stylishly, using space more effectively, more colorfully, smarter and more sustainably.

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Stand: Kath / Dekorativer Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Living in Harmony with Nature

An ever-increasing number of people are seriously attempting to change their consumer behavior in order to initiate a lifestyle trend turnaround toward a sustainable society. Consumer decisions with regard to mobility, mobile phone or nutrition, just as much as for furniture and housing, are being increasingly evaluated under the aspect of climate neutrality. The story behind the product, the storytelling, is thus becoming more and more important. This means that solid wood and other natural materials are preferred in the home furnishings, not only for reasons of coziness but also with an eye to ecological considerations. Supporting decorative items, such as flowers and plants, untreated fabrics, and indoor greenhouses are becoming important furnishing elements for home design and are also conceived of as statements. Furniture of high design quality also holds the promise of sustainability.

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Stand: Serip / Dekorativer Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Hanne Engwald


Wood and other natural materials, but also a lightweight design and recycling materials are being applied everywhere where they are functional, meaning also for products that are usually manufactured from other materials. Bamboo is being tried out as an alternative to wood, just as much as plastic-reinforced paper as a leather-like upholstery fabric. Wickerwork of rattan, willow or bamboo brings a winter garden feeling into the interior of the house. The longing for a natural living is keeping the trend toward Scandinavian design alive. It is, after all, associated with a near-natural, uncomplicated and original, rustic lifestyle, which is expressed in the traditionally simple design cultivated in the 20th century.

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Stand: Cane line / Grüner Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx


Green Home Ideas – “Indoor Meets Outdoor” Trend

We increasingly want to be close to nature: no new apartments are being built without balconies or terraces; apartments and houses with access to gardens or patios are in high demand, especially in urban areas. These touchpoints with nature are now also becoming an integral part of our homes, with patios taking on the role of a second living room. In the wake of the “Indoor Meets Outdoor” trend, weatherproof outdoor furniture now not only looks like it comes from the living room, but it is also placed there as well! Elegant materials and high-tech textiles also make it possible for them to be part of indoor furnishings. The aesthetic difference in the design is hardly recognizable in the upper price segment and, in the case of the new indoor/outdoor furniture, the comfort of seating and resting is also increasingly comparable. In the case of outdoor colors, white positioned itself as the base color for outdoor furniture at the spoga-gafa garden trade fair in Cologne.

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Stand: Sicis / Grenzenloser Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx


The furniture that suits this trend in some cases resembles that from the trend of more natural living: bamboo and wickerwork furniture are popular, but wicker armchairs of high-tech materials and more fashionable accents are also opportune. Plants are found as functional and decorative accessories not only in pots but also on wallpaper. Green color can be found in all tints, shades, and tones.

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Stand: LABEL / Grüner Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Smart Applications for Smart Homes

Can mobile apps help us to grow herbs? Can computers nurture plants to improve the air quality of our living spaces? Does the climate have an impact on building services? Does a smart control system switch off the lights and the coffee machine when you go out of the house? Smart applications are becoming ever more diverse, reliable and helpful and can be tailored increasingly precisely to the specific needs of residents. As a result, smart technologies are increasingly playing a key role in architecture and interior design. Whether computer-controlled optimization of indoor air quality, the innovative control, and operation of shower toilets or the anticipatory and energy-optimized regulating of room temperature, smart technology is being increasingly integrated into the way we live and work.

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Stand: Team 7 / Natürlicher Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx


Lamps that serve as Bluetooth loudspeakers; night tables with cordless mobile phone charging stations; cabinets that provide mood lighting; mirror cabinets with multimedia function, tables that adjust to our ideal amount of movement and sofas that note the individual favorite seating position; lights that help us fall asleep and beds that nudge us gently into another position when we snore. Technology is becoming an integral, ideally inconspicuous element of furniture.

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Stand: antoniolupi / Grenzenloser Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


More Efficient Living as Home Furnishing Philosophy

Rising rents and smaller homes will continue to drive the demand for space-saving and multifunctional furniture. The first wave of the lifestyle trend toward tidiness and renunciation aesthetics has already reached us from the USA and Asia. Renouncing consumption and restricting ourselves to the essential things in life are strategies for creating order in the home and workplace. And more and more people worldwide are finding this approach extremely beneficial. Order is trendy, so anything else is once again “uncool”. Quality over quantity could, therefore, be the perfect home furnishing philosophy for many people, especially as it is also consistent with the desire for natural living.

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Stand: Müller / Effizienter Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


A design trend for some time now has been small and compact sofas and armchairs with a design often oriented to classic typologies. Even more, sought after in the future will be affordable system furniture and compact individual items, which are scalable (adaptable to different room dimensions), variable (pull-out technology, etc.) and versatile. Life on a second level is also becoming trendy; the high sleeper is making a comeback. In view of the wide range of applications for such furniture systems, from the mini-apartment to the loft, suppliers are, however, attaching great importance to modern aesthetics in an urban living style that goes far beyond any teenager’s bedroom atmosphere.

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Stand: Interior Design Moments / Grüner Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Comfort-Oriented Living Spaces

We are worth it! Comfort is written in capital letters in every home (no matter how small), especially in the bedroom. However, investments are also being made in the bathroom and seating furniture. Comfort also involves several standards of building services; keywords here include the heated car seat, heated or cooled rooms. Compact, design-oriented seating, such as two-seater sofas or armchairs, is the trend in the upper product segment. Here, special attention is paid to ergonomics. Console table, wall rest tables or small shelves not only assure a sense of order in everyday life but are instead an integral element of interior design.

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Stand: Treca / Komfortabler Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx


And the favorite place for a comfortable hammock is found not only in the garden or on the terrace. It began with stools, and now bench seats, with and without backrests, have also been given soft upholstery to add a comfortable highlight to the kitchen and dining room. For sofas, the trend is toward a platform raised off the floor, which lifts the cushions to a higher level, as well as toward individualization and adjustability. Integrated occasional tables are a theme.

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Stand: Gloster / Komfortabler Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Living without Limits – Open Spatial Structure as a Trend

The requirements for living and housing are currently changing quite rapidly. More sophisticated singles apartments with a scarce offering of space and a lifestyle that also seeks freedom from conventions when it comes to furnishings are reinforcing the trend toward generously dimensioned one-room apartments with a loft feeling. These are complemented by one or two workrooms or bedrooms as needed. The flowing into one another of the rooms leads to a need for multifunctional furniture that marks living areas or delimits them from one another. The kitchen and living merge, the bathroom remains separate, if also, at least in the high price range, “en suite” and a little bit bigger. Instead of separate rooms, modern apartments present an open spatial structure, and compartmentalized apartments in old buildings are “aired out” through the removal of wall elements. Winter gardens and converted attics open up bright spaces, and generously dimensioned window fronts, ideally opening without thresholds, also optically expand the space outwards.

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Stand: Scholtissek / Grenzenloser Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne /Thomas Klerx


With the exception of built-in cabinets, single items of furniture are called for. Consistent collections and walls of cabinets in the living room encumber the feeling of freedom too much; mix & match is better suited. However, the single items of furniture must be combinable to this purpose. Finding the right balance in the design, autonomous, but not extroverted, pleasing but not boring, is the art of this furniture with classic qualities. Multifunctional furniture like tables that function convincingly as a workplace and dining area, freestanding sofas, cabinets that function as storage space and wall elements, room partitions that enable functions on both sides (like integrating the pivoting monitor that can be placed on both sides, according to current needs), mobile furniture for indoors and outdoors; these are the heroes of living without limits.

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Stand: Vitra / Komfortabler Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Colorful Living Ideas

Among the color trends in interior design, brown color is surely the one with the strongest impact, because it can be applied both neutrally and in an avant-garde fashion. On the whole, tints, shades, and tones of brown are responsible for the coziness and are therefore currently very popular. While things are very harmonious in the range from greige through taupe to moor oak, the combination of, for example, nougat brown with other, mostly reserved colors (meaning not applied in neon or pastel) ranging from orange to turquoise is also quite bold. However, whether with green, pink, purple or brown, color brings glamour into the apartment. Dark wood tones, reminiscent of Art Deco or Danish modernity, with gold, brass or other metallic accents on sumptuous rugs stand for pure luxury. While the overall interior design trend is toward dark colors, from dark greens and blues to black, the style of the minimalist interior remains loyal to the lighter and more natural tints. Avant-gardists pledge themselves to the Bauhaus tradition with primary colors colorfully combined with a white base color. However, the interior decorating scene as a whole is becoming more colorful through the intensive use of color schemes and patterns.

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Stand: MAGIS / Farbiger Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Decorative Living as a Statement

After clothing, living is today the number one way of expression. We are not only what we wear, but how we live. This makes every decorative element a statement. The basis for any eyecatcher is an indoor or outdoor space to make an impact. Tidy optics and decorative accessories thus don’t need to contradict one another. Lifestyle and the décor are staged, on the wall elements, in the textiles, on the floor … or also behind (illuminated) glass.

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Stand: Made in Italy 1920 R / Natürlicher Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx


Each element and each item of furniture is simultaneously a decorative element. Which is why single products are preferred over homogeneous interior design with the furniture of a collection. Lights adjust to any furnishing style and have the role of an optical highlight of the space. Designer lights are now what the folding table on rollers was in the 1970-s.

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Stand: Petite Friture / Dekorativer Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Both mirrors and pictures are always popular design elements: the classic here is the circular mirror in all versions; here the mirrors are often used graphically (thus pronouncedly two-dimensionally) and bring depth to the interior space. As cement or Metro tiles, tiles transform from tepid floor coverings to the cool highlight at the kitchen bar, in special sections of the wall or in the entrance area. On the walls, it is wallpaper with small and large-format patterns that turn a bedroom or living room into a veritable work of art. On the floor, rugs with geometrical patterns, floral elements or graphic fancies provide accents, here too as a single product again. Oval shapes are especially pronounced, and, among furniture items, the sideboard is by far the most decorative: not only as a presentation surface but also as a type.

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Stand: Knoll / Dekorativer Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner


Koelnmesse – Global Competence in Furniture, Interiors, and Design

Koelnmesse is the world’s top trade fair organizer for the areas of furnishing, living, and lifestyle. At the trade fair hub of Cologne, Germany, the leading international fair imm cologne as well as the trade fair formats of LivingKitchen, ORGATEC, spoga+gafa, interzum and Kind + Jugend rank among the internationally renowned and established industry meeting places. These fairs comprehensively represent the upholstered and case furniture segment, the kitchen industry, the office furniture sector, and outdoor design as well as the innovations of the furniture supply industry.

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Stand: UMAGE / Dekorativer Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Harald Fleissner

Cover Photo – Stand: Bretz / Farbiger Wohnen / Photo: Koelnmesse / imm cologne / Thomas Klerx



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