IMM Cologne 2018
Trend Check in Cologne

January blues? Far from it! As the first furnishings trade fair of this new year, IMM Cologne is back again for 2018, lighting up the many-faceted world of interiors. In the Rhine metropolis, more than 1,200 exhibitors from 50 different countries will be presenting their latest ideas for the home and room designs to create a more beautiful home, inspiring people to redesign their own four walls. Rolf Benz is back again as well, presenting visionary upholstered furniture creations that bring a smile to the faces of visitors trying out the seats, whilst also setting the bar for pioneering furniture design considerably higher.

Recently Selected Design Icons

Two leading-edge products are causing a stir in 2018: the Rolf Benz 562 club armchair and the Rolf Benz RONDO modular sofa. Both models were awarded the prestigious "Iconic Awards: Innovative Interior 2018" in the run up to "IMM Cologne" and the simultaneous "Interior Design Week" fairs. The award is regarded in the furniture industry as a barometer of trends in contemporary interior design.

 The elegant Rolf Benz RONDO lounge sofa with its narrow and high, rounded back was the "Winner" of the competition. The stylishly minimalistic, organic-looking and unpretentious Rolf Benz 562 club armchair achieved the highest award, "Best of Best".

 Both creations were from Swiss designer This Weber, resulting from his engagement with the existing Rolf Benz collection. "We wanted to design upholstered furniture that was as delicate and space-saving as possible, yet still comfortable and elegant," explains This Weber. "Since both pieces of furniture have stylistic similarities, they can be freely combined: the RONDO sofa’s design determines the basic melody, while the club armchairs set the tone."

This Weber was born with a flair for appealing design: "I come from a family of craftsmen and designers. My grandfather was a joiner and made furniture as unique pieces. My father worked as a graphic designer and typographer and designed fonts and logos," recalls Weber. Referring to the recently-won awards, the successful designer is refreshingly pragmatic: "Such awards are always nice and they create a certain amount of attention, but it's much more important that customers actually like the products and that they are successful on the market," says Weber.

This Weber, Designer

„I come from a family of craftsmen and designers. My grandfather was a joiner and made furniture as unique pieces. My father worked as a graphic designer and typographer and designed fonts and logos“

Out and About with the Winners

The fact that the harmoniously shaped Rolf Benz 562 club armchair feels perfectly at home in different (residential) landscapes is one of its greatest strengths. This is also confirmed by the images that were taken shortly before IMM Cologne, presenting the graceful chairs and their designer at distinctive locations throughout Cologne. Whether in front of the cathedral, in the Museum Ludwig, on the Hohenzollern Bridge, on the Rheinpromenade, in front of the Kranhäuser [crane houses] or down in the "Chlodwigplatz" underground station, the two protagonists are – quite literally – outstanding. "I want to create desirable objects. That’s my aim, day after day," explains This Weber. Mission accomplished!

Blog with style

Anika Pries has a penchant for good style: you could say she is irresistibly attracted to it. And she loves nothing better than sharing it with others. Anika is a 34 year old communications designer who over the last six years has used her interiors and lifestyle blog STILREICH to reach the hearts of her faithful readers, building up an impressive community of fans and followers, and transforming her passion into a profession.

Anika lives her (living) dream with her husband and her two sons aged eight and ten on an idyllic farmhouse in Rheinhessen. “Interior design and creative ways of working are my life’s greatest passions,” says the confident fashion-conscious blogger. “I use my own very personal style to inspire my readers. I tell them all about my home, new trends, in fact anything and everything that fascinates and inspires me.” This is how Anika describes the recipe for her success.

The atmospheric photos in her interiors and lifestyle blog illustrate the author’s affinity with unfussy Scandinavian feel-good design, a common thread which runs through all the rooms. The whole impression is characterised by lightness and clarity. Tones of white, black and grey predominate. To contrast with these colours, Anika cleverly introduces high-quality soft furnishings in warm beige tints which act as eye-catching accents. In all other respects, the premise “less is more” holds sway in the Pries household.

I attach great importance to beautiful individual items and furniture, and make sure they have enough space to be noticed and to make the right impact,” explains Anika.

Stylish rediscoveries

Always on the lookout for new trends and styles, our STILREICH author recently rediscovered her love of a very special kind of fabric. “Velvet is quite simply magic. It’s the best way of quickly adding glamour and cosiness to a room,” enthuses Anika. And when the conversation turns to her new dining room furniture, Anika goes into raptures. “We had been looking for the ideal dining table for ages, and at last we found it: the oval Rolf Benz 965 in dark oak. In combination with the matching chairs from the Rolf Benz 650 range the table goes beautifully in front of our natural stone wall in the eating area. The rustic wall and stylish furniture together result in an inspired symbiosis.  The new furniture matches our existing style of furnishing perfectly and creates a perfect transition between dining and living areas. It’s stylish and practical – and from the start belonged to the whole family. This is where we all eat, chat, play and work,” smiles Anika.

Anika Pries, Stilreich

„Just have the courage to choose new shapes. A table doesn’t always have to have four corners. Beautiful pictures create a stylish atmosphere. A sideboard will free up more space on the table, and last but not least, a lovely carpet gives you flooring you won’t want to leave for a long, long time.“

Even where space is at more of a premium, the Rolf Benz 965 dining table, which is also available in a round version, looks absolutely fabulous. The light-looking solid wood table top and the filigree structure of the underframe allow the table to integrate harmoniously into all sorts of different living spaces. Combined with the elegant and equally flexible family of chairs Rolf Benz 650 (these won the German Design Award 2017), you can create a completely harmonious overall picture.

And if you too are looking to decorate your dining room, listen to what Anika says in her blog. “Just have the courage to choose new shapes. A table doesn’t always have to have four corners. Beautiful pictures create a stylish atmosphere. A sideboard will free up more space on the table, and last but not least, a lovely carpet gives you flooring you won’t want to leave for a long, long time.”
Are you looking for more inspiration about fashionable lifestyle and furnishings? Anika’s STILREICH blog is open 24/7. Take a look: you won’t regret it.

Adieu tristesse. Hello everybody!

Time to call a halt to those dreary hotel lobbies with their standardized interchangeable design – soulless, devoid of fun.  More and more hotels now welcome their guests with a mixture between the casual chic of a living room and the cosy atmosphere of a coffee house.  Both house guests and external visitors appreciate the warm welcome.

The waiting areas that were once so sterile and uninspiring for overnight guests as they checked in or out are increasingly being transformed into lively oases where anybody and everybody can spend time and meet others in a cool environment. Transit zone has morphed into meeting place: travellers encounter locals, business people encounter caffè macchiato nuts, engrossing coworking encounters relaxed savoir-vivre. In other words, this is life. And lounge music.

The best example of this new casual openness is the 25hours hotel group, which is now continually setting new standards in its nine design hotels in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Vienna and Zürich. Guests are offered not just bed and breakfast but a whole world of great entertainment. There’s always something different. Always exceptional. Always unique. For the Berlin designer Werner Aisslinger this is the concept of the future.

Werner Aisslinger

„Hotels are once again becoming what they were a hundred years ago: a meeting place used by residents and locals, an exciting place for a party, somewhere to enjoy the café culture or any other social gathering“

The most beautiful kind of lobbying

The latest hotel in the group, in line with today’s trend, again makes a stunning impression. The 25hours hotel langstrasse is the second 25hours hotel in Zürich. It forms the interface between the bustling red-light district with its young and arty nightlife and the commercial quarter of the Europaallee. A melting pot par excellence. The interior is just as unconventional and colourful as the exterior.  

The sofas look both inviting and elegant – the foundation on which the fully relaxed feel-good atmosphere is based.  Together with Rolf Benz, the designer Werner Aisslinger has created “Bench”, a range of furniture specially for transitional spaces like the lobby, café and bar. This is somewhere you can sit and work, but it’s also a wonderful place to relax completely.

Aisslinger took his inspiration from the leather gym mats of the 1970s. Just like the attractively worn gym mats from all those years ago, the seat and back sections of the bench are covered with robust brown leather. They stand on a light metal frame, and are equally at home in the lobby and in the dining area – in two sizes.

“Hotels are once again becoming what they were a hundred years ago: a meeting place used by both residents and locals, an exciting place for a party, somewhere to enjoy the café culture or any other social gathering,” says Werner Aisslinger. He’s right. No doubt about that.

DESIGN-NEWS FROM NEW YORK

A place of longing, a source of inspiration, a setter of trends and a hotspot of creativity - New York City is anything but boring. Its 18,000 restaurants, 1,100 parks, spaces and public facilities, 100 museums, 400 galleries and just as many theatres offer plenty of variety and all kinds of opportunities for new synaptic connections. Life is busy in this bustling metropolis of 8 million people on the Hudson River. The most heavily populated city in the USA is an inexhaustible biotope of forward-thinking ideas. Ideas which change the world. And living. The powerful creative force which makes the Big Apple such a big player in design yet again filled visitors to WantedDesign with enthusiasm this year.

The trade fair was launched in 2011 by Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat to bring the international design scene together in the cosmopolitan mega-metropolis. Mission accomplished: each year, the event grows in popularity and forms an attractive platform for designers, manufacturers, dealers, craftworkers, students and design fans from all over the world. The historic walls of the ‘Terminal Stores’ in Manhattan form the showground for this illustrious get-together along with ‘Industry City’ in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park since 2015.

Rolf Benz was in attendance this year for the first time and demonstrated that world-class design is also at home across the pond.

TAKE A SEAT AND FEEL THE BEAT OF THE STREET

A stroll through the streets of New York is a real show to behold with every metre. There are remarkable discoveries on every corner. And anyone who thinks they know the city will probably be proven wrong at the very next corner. Someone who knows how to capture the multi-facetted street life like no other is Wataru ‘Bob’ Shimasato. The photographer from Nagano in Japan has worked as a model for renowned fashion labels like Diesel and Uniqlo and has been living in the States since 2009. In 2010, he discovered a passion for street style photography and this still occupies him today.

We asked the style icon with the striking long hair to take our Rolf Benz 650 chair out into the city’s streets and squares and to do exactly what Wataru likes to do best: take photos. It quickly became clear that the photographer and subject of the photos were in perfect harmony. And almost symbolic of this is the fact that the design of the chair is inspired by two interlocking hands. The beautiful wooden seat offers top quality seating comfort even in the hustle and bustle of the big city.

New York is a unique location for a photo shoot – and the ideal starting point for presenting this chair, which was awarded the ‘German Design Award 2017’. Of course, our photo trip started out on Broadway with its numerous yellow cabs. This was followed by some more spectacular backdrops. These include the High Line Park, an area of greenery with heavenly views of the city situated on the former elevated railroad. Our star photographer also snapped away in Manhattan’s legendary and trendy SoHo area. And likewise in the trendy Meatpacking district with its old industrial buildings made from clinker bricks. Brooklyn Bridge Park, which passes beneath the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, offers fantastic views of Manhattan’s skyline. And last but not least: Dumbo –Brooklyn’s residential quarter which extends down under Manhattan Bridge overpass and is characterised by its striking bridges and access ramps.

The result of our exceptional photo trip through the Big Apple: snaps of casual elegance and timeless beauty. New York, New York, we will be back! And our four-legged protagonist? It stayed behind and can be viewed live and up-close at the ‘BY STUDIOANIS’ Rolf Benz Flagship Store on Greene Street. So when are you visiting New York?

 

SALONE DEL MOBILE MILANO
A CITY TOUR IN MINIATURE

Once again this year, the Milan Furniture Fair became a magnet for hundreds of thousands of furniture enthusiasts and lovers of superb design from all over the world – and so it was the ideal platform for our latest creation, Rolf Benz ALMA. The ALMA range of lounge furniture, designed by Beck Design, provides an almost weightless sitting sensation, and its puristic design and filigree legs give it the illusion of airy lightness.

We wanted Rolf Benz ALMA to attract the attention it deserves outside the exhibition area of the legendary Salone del Mobile as well as inside, so we came up with a neat idea: we devised a meticulously accurate scale model of Rolf Benz ALMA on a scale of 1:10, and set about finding the most beautiful photo locations in this huge city in Lombardy with its millions of inhabitants.  We found just what we were looking for.

First photo stop: Fontana di Piazza Castello. This picturesque fountain in the north-western part of the old city lies directly in front of the main entrance to the impressive Castello Sforzesco – it’s a perfect place for both old and young to relax. Our practical pocket-sized ALMA seating furniture was set up in a flash, and within minutes it had become a popular subject for photos, stealing the show from the lovely fountain. The mighty castle, constructed from 1450 on the ruins of the Visconti family fortress, became almost insignificant in comparison!

Next stop: Largo Maria Callas – an idyllic small square with attractive shops not far from the castle, a great tribute to the famous soprano after whom the square is named. Here again, our charming mini model attracted the attention of passers-by, capturing their hearts.

On we went to the Casa Feltrinelli Porta Volta. This multi-functional building belonging to the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation houses a library, a bookshop, a café, and space for exhibitions, events and offices. It has spectacular eye-catching glass windows. This impressive building was designed by the Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron, whose Elbphilharmonie cultural centre recently grabbed the headlines all over the world.

And talking of sensations: people were so thrilled to see our “mini ALMA” against the majestic backdrop of Milan Cathedral – the third-largest church building in the world – that some image-hunters were kneeling down on the ground to get the perfect shot. We’re convinced that it’s sometimes the small things that spark the greatest excitement. Even on the fringes of the most significant furniture fair in the world.

Sitting in Cologne
Sit down. Take a deep breath. Recharge the batteries.

Greetings 2017! Have we met? No sooner has the new year begun than the to-do list bubbles up again, threatening to swamp our brains with stress hormones. New jobs, resolutions and projects get mixed up with all the things we put off or didn’t finish last year. And before we know it, we are back in the hamster-wheel of our fast-paced daily life.

Stop! It’s high time you put a halt to this daily stress. Take a city break for instance – that will widen your horizon, open up new perspectives and bring us closer to ourselves again.  Let’s give ourselves a little time to relax, expose ourselves to new impressions. In Cologne for instance. This cathedral city on the River Rhine is second to none when it comes to large German towns with chilled cheerfulness. As it says in Article 2 of the “Constitutional Law of the Rhineland“,”Et kütt wie et kütt.“ (What will be, will be.)

We visited the metropolis on the Rhine during the IMM Cologne 2017 International Interiors Show 2017 and took the opportunity to look round for the best public hotspots where you can come down to earth. We can reveal places in the Cheerfulness Capital – apart from the Exhibition Hall where you can try out the latest Rolf Benz seating – where you can sit and relax, or switch off. Sit down, slow down, listen to your inner voice and enjoy the very special laid-back atmosphere of this city of a million people. Try the statue of Albertus Magnus in front of the main building of the University of Cologne.

Seating for the soul

What would Cologne be without its landmark, the cathedral of Cologne? It’s purely and simply unimaginable. It’s not surprising that the steps in front of this magnificent building are such a popular place for tourists and locals to sit. As you sit at the feet of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, you get the best view of the colourful crowds milling around the station.  If you want to get away from the hubbub, you’ll find the interior of the cathedral the perfect place for inner reflection – or you could go to the Domforum, the Visitor Centre of Cologne Cathedral, where you’ll find space for contemplation and meditation as well as a wide range of information, including details of talks and events.

The cemetery of St. Bartholomew in the Ehrenfeld area of Cologne is a perfect place to snatch a few moments’ peace in the manic hustle and bustle of your day.

The new Rhine Boulevard is an especially relaxing place. It is a 500 metre flight of steps that gives you a magnificent view of the Cathedral and the historic Old Town of Cologne – on warm days you can happily und sit here and relax late into the evening.

You get wonderful views from the Cologne Triangle: at more than 103 metres high, it is the second highest skyscraper on the right-hand bank of the Rhine in Cologne. Its wide viewing platform gives you a spectacular all-round view of the Cathedral, the town and the surrounding area. Talking of views, as your gaze wanders over the sights, your thoughts can wander too – try this in the historic panoramic restaurant “Bastei” right on the bank of the Rhine. It can be hired for special festive occasions.

If drinking a good cup of coffee is the thing that makes you relax, you should make for the Van Dyck Rösterei and Espressobar which was awarded the international prize for architecture, the “AIT Award” in 2012. But before our city break morphs into just another to-do list, we’d better stop, and enjoy our aromatic espresso. In peace.

DESIGNERS’ SATURDAY
Creative Summit Meeting

Welcome to the design metropolis of Langenthal! Every two years, this community of 15,000 inhabitants in the Swiss canton of Bern is transformed into a creative hotspot for forward-thinking product design and a meeting place for the international design industry over a weekend in November. The time finally came on 5 and 6 November 2016. The 16th Designers’ Saturday summoned designers to a meeting and over 15,000 design-savvy visitors came, saw and experienced some exceptional presentations by 70 renowned exhibitors.

The Designers’ Saturday was launched in 1987 by leading Swiss design companies and is different from other exhibitions, as reflected by its exhibition concept. The showground is not the sterile setting of a multi-functional exhibition centre but rather the authentic production environment of the local design industry. The exhibition is held at locations where well-made everyday designs are created, day by day. Such as the production hall of wood manufacturer Hector Egger, one of the six exhibition locations in Langenthal. Rolf Benz celebrated its premiere at the 16th Designers’ Saturday here with a notable brand presence.

The labyrinth of Langenthal

The focal point of the presentation of this premium manufacturer from the Black Forest was the theme of the ‘labyrinth’. Visitors to the exhibition were offered a varied voyage of discovery through a 50m2 large wooden box. The labyrinth-like route (cul-de-sacs included!) led through various different colour zones, drawings, reflections, lettering and discovery corners featuring visionary items of furniture from Rolf Benz. The exhibits were masterful reinterpretations of solid wood pieces and connected with the exhibition site. These included the 580 armchair and 944 bench, both inspired by origami as well as the 965 solid wood dining table which surprises with its unexpectedly light design. At the centre of the labyrinth, the so-called ‘Green Zone’, visitors could take a breather on the bench, soak up their surroundings and take a souvenir selfie with the photo box.

The products from the Rolf Benz collection presented at the Designers’ Saturday came from the Munich design studio ‘formstelle’ which is characterised by its established carpentry expertise and which never ceases to create a stir in the industry when paired with the craftsmanship and upholstery expertise of the Rolf Benz brand. “As an exhibitor at the Designers’ Saturday, we were able to show visitors that we do not ‘just’ create top quality sofas but also produce furnishing designs of the highest calibre. In Langenthal we deliberately presented designs which extend far beyond the present with their forward-thinking look,” says Jürgen Mauß, Chairman of the Board at Rolf Benz AG.

Peace has now returned to Langenthal. This charming small town has returned to being a normal community in the Swiss Mittelland until the next Designers’ Saturday takes place in November 2018.

Sitting in Milan

Welcome to Milan! The world-famous and important “Salone del Mobile” show, at which we presented our latest products in Hall 5 alongside the most illustrious Italian furniture companies, brought us to this wonderful city and stole our heart. During the time we spent in the Italian metropolis, in keeping with our theme, we went looking for the most beautiful places to sit – and we weren’t disappointed.

It is not only the city’s famous monuments – such as the sculpture of the influential journalist Indro Montanelli in the Giardini Pubblici park, or the staircase monument by artist Aldo Rossi on the Via Croce Rossa – that invite passers-by to sit. The breathtaking architecture of the “Fondazione Prada” museum is also a seductive invitation to withdraw to the courtyard with an after-lunch cappuccino. Inside the museum, in contrast, we were completely captivated by the sitting and speaking android who, as part of the current Goshka Macuga exhibition “To the Son of Man who Ate the Scroll”, gives a monologue constructed from numerous excerpts of seminal speeches.                       

The well-known steps down to the washrooms of the Café-Bar Luce at the Fondazione Prada were designed by director Wes Anderson and lead one to a place where each of us sits at some time during the day. We also felt invited to sit at the San Sepolcro church which was built in 1030. Sitting there in silence, we listened to what the historical building had to tell us.

There is plenty of sitting to be done above the city’s roofs as well. The restaurant Ceresio 7 impresses not only with its fabulous view but, in addition to culinary highlights from the kitchen, it also boasts two rooftop pools that create a magnificent ambience.

On our way home, we made a short stop in rainy Lugano where we set off our new Rolf Benz 650 chair to best effect in a picturesquely idyllic setting.

A partnership that covers all bases

 

Tradition, style and 100% "Made in Germany" – you don't have to look too hard to spot the common ground shared by Rolf Benz and rohi. The two companies have been working together for four decades. Why they complement each other so well is easily explained: good upholstery needs covers that are equally durable and elegant.The artisan textile manufacturer rohi was established over 80 years ago and is today managed by the third generation of the founding family. Based in northern Bavaria, the company designs and produces high-quality woollen fabrics for premium furniture manufacturers such as Rolf Benz. But not exclusively so: airlines, opera houses and theatres also rely on the know-how of these fabric experts. To continually re-invent oneself and yet still remain true to one's principles and also be successful – only a few companies manage to achieve this. rohi and Rolf Benz are among them.

Katrin Hielle-Dahm

„In the new creations we reach through a plastic , relief-like appearance , which appears bulky and soft at the same time.“

INTERVIEW WITH KATRIN HIELLE-DAHM, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND HEAD OF THE ROHI DESIGN TEAM

You design and produce high-quality fabrics for Rolf Benz, most recently including the Rolf Benz TIRA sofa and the Rolf Benz 580 armchair, which were presented at the Milan Furniture Fair. What is so special about your current fabrics?

With all our fabrics, it's important to us that they are full of character and personality. In our latest creations, we achieve this with a sculpted, relief-like effect which looks both voluminous and soft. Its appearance changes between matt and glossy depending on the lighting – this makes the fabrics vibrant. The new range of colours is broad and extends from soft natural shades and warm, homely colours through to exciting contrasts. All our fabrics are subject to a fundamental prerequisite: they have to be low-maintenance and durable.

What do you draw inspiration from when developing new fabrics?

Exchanging ideas is very important when it comes to inspiration and creativity. Our team of designers travel around the world a lot, visit international trade fairs, talk with colleagues across the globe, and always try to keep their finger on the pulse. At the same time, our designers works closely with our sales team, with both departments passing on externally sourced ideas internally.

Which colours will be popular in 2016?

Muted, finely gradated natural shades convey calm and a sense of having arrived – this continues to be popular for domestic interiors. Deep, rich shades such as night blue give interiors style and elegance. Luminously intense, almost brash colours inspired by nature are also proving popular, however. rohi likes to incorporate these contrasts within a single fabric. For example, we will combine a muted shade with a luminous coral, pink and orange.