If the rules are made by cyber-consumers

There is a surprising leitmotif linking all three events set to inaugurate the international trade fair calendar. The commercial-hearted Imm Cologne, the vibrant Maison&Objet and extremely pure Stockholm Furniture Fair. Furnishing trends (colours, materials, styles) easily and positively transcend physical and geographical limits to contaminate different markets. Nonetheless it is still rare for such conceptual affinity to emerge between such different exhibition moods. As a central theme of all these stages, all strongly characterised by Made in Italy (as you will see in the next page), we find an immaterial connection, a reflection, tangible in an array of manifestations, all based on a single common theme: “the digitalisation of society”. How are online platforms, social networks, digital services and new technologies influencing consumer habits and purchasing behaviours? IMM Cologne’s response to the aforementioned is the Smart Home – Let’s be smart installation inside the new Pure Architects segment: a real home, open to visitors, and which focuses on the increasing importance of technologies applied to interior design and ‘smart’ living in terms of energy, safety, lifestyle, savings and entertainment. But there’s more. IMM intends to use digitalisation to offer visitors a renewed and more consistent brand experience. Gerald Böse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Koelnmesse explains: «Our touchpoints are the event’s homepage and micro-websites, business networks such as Ambista, matchmaking upon visitor registration, e-ticketing with the Fair Mate app or digital lead tracking. Above all, we’re relying on digital lead tracking to map indoor paths taken by visitors at the fair. Tracking and digital visitor information helps us to understand what is important to them».

Therefore consumers have become active, they are now consultants, influencers: this conclusion is palpable in Maison&Objet and its research project, carried out by the agency NellyRodi, culminating in the definition of this edition’s guiding theme: Show-room. In the new Cahier d’Ispirations, Marie-Jo Malait writes: «In the digital age, social networks are altering the concept of desirability. Hyper-stimulated cyber-consumers are transforming into artistic directors and scenographers of their own spaces». Therefore if on the one hand furnishing has embraced typical showroom exhibition elements and characteristics, stores must also transform themselves into more authentic places, for living. This concept is palpable in the Trend Exhibition by the studio Christian Halleröd Design, presented at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. This installation uses materials and the textures of monumental objects to emphasise the authenticity, or otherwise, the experiences in a continuous tension between the real and fake.