Luxury and Practicality Offered at Ambiente
By Allison Zisko
Last month's Ambiente fair in Frankfurt, Germany, marked a return to more luxurious and opulent products, conveyed through more elaborate and ornate finishes and a push for bespoke product. At the same time it presented many practical products, such as items that stack or nest; lots of food storage options; and technological innovations that have resulted in more durable, functional products.
After yearly predictions of its return, gold embellishment in tabletop may in fact be back. It was evident in Royal Crown Derby's new patterns Windsor and Dapple; in Prouna's black, white and gold Castillo dinnerware and in a rose gold-trimmed bridal pattern; in Vista Alegre's gold-trimmed Transatlantica dinnerware (a blue and white design, another prominent motif at the fair); and in Wedgwood's Palladian dinnerware, a luxe combination of burnt orange stripes and architectural motifs, edged in gold.
Opulence was also evident in Waterford's new luxury line, offering a more upscale lifestyle approach to the executive desk, vanity and barware categories. Elsewhere there was more decorated crystal stemware, such as items from Rogaska featuring a more detailed design on the foot, in addition to its extensions of its Diamonds are Forever collection. Weimar Porcelain introduced a design-your-own dinnerware program, to be offered to only 10 to 15 retailers worldwide, that enables consumers to pick the shape and design of their dinnerware, down to the colorway, decoration and trim. Royal Crown Derby spoke likewise of an increase in bespoke orders, in terms of monogramming, an approach that is "important" to business and relatively easy to achieve since the company owns its factories, said Simon Willis, sales and marketing director.
Perhaps the ultimate in luxury goods shown at the Fair were the extensions to the licensed Aston Martin collection produced by Grant Macdonald Silversmiths in London. Additions include handcut crystal stemware with sterling silver stems decorated with a carbon fiber design. There is also a new sterling silver flatware pattern called Nexus, with a handle that is twisted and carved and oxidized white. All pieces in the collection are inspired by details on the luxury cars. The collection is not yet available in the U.S., but the company hopes to expand distribution.
Color continues to be an important element in new products; it brightened nearly every company's stand in Frankfurt and was most particularly evident in glassware. Bormioli Rocco, for instance, is bringing more saturated color to more items, including water bottles and tumblers, according to Patrick Accorsi, vice president of sales and marketing for the company's North American division.
The glassware business has also focused on the more practical aspects of home use. There were many new glass food storage containers with locking plastic lids, a fast-growing business, according to several manufacturers. Glassware, stemware and glass food preparation items such as mixing bowls and baking dishes have also been designed to stack and/or nest for more convenient storage.
Manufacturers continue to look for ways to improve and enhance materials that have been around for centuries. Scott Zwiesel, for instance, has developed a means of strengthening the stems of its stemware and has added an effervescence point at the base of an existing beer glass to maintain bubbles. Arc International introduced a line of organic sprayed glass, a colorful collection called Soleil. It has created new shapes in its tempered glass dinnerware and introduced vitro ceramic cookware that can be used directly on a gas burner, in the microwave or in the oven. It is freezer-to-oven safe. Fellow French company Pillivuyt, after years of product development, has come out with a line of flame-proof porcelain that can also be used on induction cooktops, as well as in the microwave. WMF, meanwhile, introduced a steam cooker with a digital cooking system. It comes with a glass lid, a sensor and a smart phone application that directs the cooking, step by step, from a remote location.
In both tabletop and housewares, barbeque-related items--and barbecues themselves--were popular. Baking and cake decorating items were big. So were tea-related products. Geometric shapes or multi-sided products were prominent in tabletop.