By Allison Zisko
Ambiente, Messe Frankfurt’s massive international trade show, takes place this month, offering the tabletop and housewares industries, among others, the chance to showcase their newest goods to a global audience. Many are seizing the opportunity to highlight new colors, shapes and partnerships; to showcase to the world their creative abilities; and to underscore their brand relevancy.
“In general, the latest design trends and innovative products for the table, kitchen and household sectors are to be seen at Ambiente,” said Thomas Kastl, director, Dining, at Ambiente. “Taking part in the leading fair is enormously important for manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers especially when they have to make the best possible use of their marketing budgets.”
Jennifer Morganelli, Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton’s vice president, trade marketing, Americas, said that as the company has focused on a global business model, “Ambiente is a great opportunity to share global success stories among regions and understand how our American customers can benefit from those successes,” she said. “An example from a few years ago stemmed from discussions about crystal stemware being sold in pairs in Europe which make a great gift but only sold as single stems here in the U.S. We adopted the idea of selling stemware pairs in the U.S. in addition to single stems and have created a great gift business.”
Gibson will focus on directional trends for fall 2013 and spring 2014, such as Nouveau Chic, a variation of updated traditional designs; Skandi Modern, featuring muted hues and sleek silhouettes; and whimsical, with its bright florals, neon and land and sea motifs. It will use this market to stress its style-with-value quotient, even though the products may come with a higher price tag, said President Sal Gabbay. “Last year, those who visited our showroom observed both style and value in each collection. They will see new opportunities with the very same equation,” he said. “It’s another chance to demonstrate to European and other overseas markets that our creativity and delivery capacities are outstanding in every aspect of the product life cycle.”
Portuguese manufacturer Vista Alegre, which is making a big push into the American market with a new U.S. division, is partnering with designer Christian LaCroix on a line of tabletop and giftware and introducing a line called Casa Alegre.
“Ambiente will also serve as the platform for introducing part of our USA Quick Ship program, which represents a significant benefit for new and existing retail partners,” said Daniel da Silva, Vista Alegre president. “Additionally, this will be the first year that we will have a U.S. price list, which is advantageous for American buyers. This market will also serve as a preview to the April Tabletop Show in the United States, during which Vista Alegre will make its official North American debut.”
The Dining segment at Ambiente, which incorporates both tabletop and housewares, will continue to emphasize areas like barbecue products and small appliances, Kastl said. “With suppliers such as Big Green Egg, and Weber–Stephen, trendsetters from the barbecue sector will be showcasing new products for the coming season. The number of manufacturers in the field of small electrical appliances is also on the rise. Premium brands like Braun, Gastroback, Kenwood and KitchenAid will be presenting their novelties to trade professionals.”
Housewares vendors, located primarily in Halls 1 and 3, are introducing a wide range of goods, many in advance of the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago next month. Gibson, for instance, will feature its new Benedicta cookware in its Gibson Home line; Swiss Diamond will introduce its non-stick Swiss Titan Fry Pan, a nonstick sauteuse and braiser, and its No More Mess! kitchen tools, which have raised heads that prevent the working end of the tool from touching the countertop; and Vacu Vin, its new line of Plus Tools.
Tabletop is housed in Halls 4 and 6, giving visitors access to global companies focused on high design as well as everyday living.
“Ambiente is a great way for Villeroy & Boch to showcase the latest collections and trends,” said Bernard Reuter, president of Villeroy & Boch USA, tableware division. “Our focus at this market is ‘Color Your Life,’ as color is a major trend in the tableware industry.” New colors will be added to Villeroy’s successful collections including Anmut My Colour, Caffe Club and its vase collection. Another trend that Villeroy & Boch embraces is the concept of mixing materials; its newest collection, Artesano, combines porcelain, glass and slate on a variety of serveware pieces. It is also introducing a series of varietal-specific wine glasses.
Vista Alegre’s Christian LaCroix collection consists of four patterns: Butterfly Parade, Sol y Sombra, Forum and Picassiette. Vista Alegre is also showcasing white porcelain giftware, bar accessories and a clear crystal giftware line in partnership with designer Karim Rashid.
Wedgwood will unveil a new white bone china dinnerware series, Ashlar, with a focus on shape in Frankfurt; sister company Waterford will offer three new contemporary collections that are lifestyle based, most notably a technology-oriented collection of pieces aimed at the executive desk category, such as crystal iPad and iPhone docking stations. Waterford is pursuing this business in a different way in its strategy to grow its business, according to Regan Iglesia, vice president, global range and marketing, for Waterford. “We’re looking at expanded distribution, luxury distribution, global distribution,” he said. The collections, designed by Jo Sampson—who collaborated on the company’s recent interiors introduction—also include “glamorous” barware and boudoir-influenced pieces, Iglesia said.
The international tabletop scene has undergone some change with recent overseas acquisitions, including Steelite International’s acquisition of Royal Crown Derby and Fiskars acquisition of Royal Copenhagen. Fiskars is also the relatively new owner of iittala, which will bring to the fair a new collection of stackable wine glasses called Lempi, designed by Matti Klenell of Sweden.