By Allison Zisko
Fashion trends continued at the recent Ambiente trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany; and while there were no must-see, much-discussed launches at the show, there were plenty of solid introductions.
The mood was more muted at the February show, compared to the energy and enthusiasm that marked American trade shows in the first two months of the year; the European debt crisis, punctuated by news reports of austerity-triggered riots in Greece, cast a slight shadow over international proceedings at the Fair. Some vendors felt that there were fewer American buyers as well, particularly from the specialty store channel. Three-quarters of the way into the show organizer Messe Frankfurt said that any drop in visitors this year would have been “extremely small,” not more than 5 percent.
Nonetheless, there was plenty to see; the show was marked by revived and refurbished brands, new partnerships and plenty of new collections. Most introductions showcased bright colors, particularly in glass and crystal, as well as floral decoration and other natural themes.
Villeroy & Boch introduced a Monet-inspired dinnerware pattern called Marie Fleur, a second floral themed dinnerware called Peonia, and seven new colors—as well as vibrant floral decorations—in its Ammut range. It also featured colored glass vases in several sizes.
Rosenthal launched Curve Dandelion and Butterfly dinnerware, both featuring the natural elements indicated by their names, a colored glass vase collection called Leaf, and two dragon-themed patterns in its Versace line, which celebrates its 20th anniversary with Rosenthal this year.
Waterford introduced new black and clear handmade stemware from designer John Rocha. Wedgwood launched Equestrian, a horse-themed collection based on the works of artist George Stubbs that takes the brand beyond the table and into desk accessories and ultimately further into home. Sister company Royal Doulton has been reinvented to appeal to young urban dwellers with contemporary tastes. Four new dinnerware collections and a bar accessories line have been created by London-based designers and mark a distinct departure from the more formal and traditional looks of the past.
Riedel introduced a red and black-accented, dragon-shaped decanter in this Year of the Dragon (it’s also available in a Union Jack coloration in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee this year – another notable theme at the show), as well as Cobra Verde, a snake-shaped, green-accented limited-edition decanter. Other crystal makers added colorful splashes to their lines: Rogaska added soft tints to the stems of some of its stemware collections; RCR Crystal did so as well, and Val Saint Lambert offered optically stunning vases and bowls with either cobalt or grass green accents.
The color trend also continues in housewares, where Bodum’s new line-up (a continuation of small electrics and a new Pour Over Coffee Machine, among other items) stood out in shades of red, black, white and lime green. Le Creuset introduced Marseilles, a new turquoise shade (as well as a powder blue that is exclusive to Bloomingdale’s). Kyocera added purple to its collection of ceramic knives with colored handles and WMF introduced sheathed paring knives in four colors, as well as a plastic-sided knife block in several hues.