Behind The Scenes

Cologne Furniture Fair: A Buyers Perspective

Happy New Year everyone! (My first post this year.) One thing that really gets me past the post-holiday blues is my annual trip to the IMM furniture fair in Cologne Germany each January.  It’s a long way to go for a four day trip for sure but as a friend recently noted, Europe has a certain panache you just don’t find anywhere else, and I get over the travel pretty quick! Even if it is in the middle of January.

People are always surprised that I go to a furniture fair in Germany. What does Urban Barn buy from Germany they ask me? The reality though is that a lot of the products we buy are from European suppliers and designers. Mostly they produce in Asia, but the first place new designs are unveiled is in Europe. One big reason we go to this fair is to see what we can expect to be trendy in the next couple of years; they tend to be a couple years ahead of North America over there when it comes to style, and furniture is certainly no exception. In fact, this is one of the things that I like the most about this fair; it isn’t just a place that buyers go. In fact it seems that the whole city knows about it and many attend the fair themselves. Everywhere we go people ask where I am from and why I am in Germany—they really are very friendly once you get past those German accents! When I tell them it is for furniture they always get excited and say, “Oh yeah the IMM! “ 

The fair itself is open to the public and there are always groups of students there. One hall is devoted to new designs, many that will likely never see production as they really push the boundaries of where art meets practicality, but this is also where we see the most interesting things. It really opens your mind as to what home furnishing is all about; I think it is an expression of your own unique and personal taste.

Here are some creative designs I really liked, and ones that could easily make the cut:

1. First is a little table lamp that looks like it is almost walking. Simply tilt it on its other foot to direct the light.

Walking Lamp

2. Flat door mats that look 3D; very cute!

3D floor mats

3. A very smart shelving system that is sturdy, expandable and uses no bolts or hardware of any kind. Take that IKEA with your little Allen wrenches!

Modular Shelving

4. A cool set of ottomans you just might see at Urban Barn later this year.


The trip was capped off with a late night snowball fight with one of our good suppliers. That’s the boss winding up to hit our rep. There may have been a little German wine and beer involved. Definitely a highlight of the trip! See you next year in Cologne! Tickets online or at the door! The panache is free.

What new designs do you see being the next hot item?


*Required fields