The innovation: Fabric experience architecture
The space: Heimtextil Trend Forum
The instigator: The Future Laboratory
Textile trends could be experienced as well as seen at this year’s Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt. This was thanks to the innovative way in which the show presented its annual Trend Forum, using architecture rather than stands to display products.
It all started last year, when a panel of trend experts from around the world identified the trends. These were then published in a book in April. This year LS:N Global’s parent company, The Future Laboratory, was chosen to produce the book. It was called Re-Connect, and featured four key trends about how consumers have adopted a more considered approach to spending. The trends were Mix Mash, Wilderness, Utility and Sobriety.
The next challenge was to take these trends and turn them into a display at the Heimtextil show. The Future Laboratory first had to pick key fabrics produced by exhibitors in response to the trend brief. These would then form the basis of the Trend Forum space in the show hall. But The Future Laboratory wanted to do things differently this year.
‘Previous shows had been much more arts and craftsy,’ says Caroline Till, who worked on the project for The Future Laboratory, and is co-founder of design research agency FranklinTill. ‘But we wanted it to be more of an architectural space where people could be immersed and could interact with the fabrics.’
To do this, The Future Laboratory built four large architectural structures. It commissioned retail design agency Campaign – previously featured in Innovate – to create each of these. For the Wilderness trend, burnt wood was used to build a cavernous structure. For Utility, scaffolding created a large cage-like construction. To illustrate Sobriety an installation featuring lights covered in a translucent fabric created a subtle, warm glow. And for Mix Mash a series of geometric structures were covered with bright elastic cords.
All four structures were surrounded by a series of ropes that hung tightly together from the ceiling. Visitors had to break them apart to get through. ‘It created a sense of discovery to find the structure and fabrics on the other side,’ says Till.
Being natural, the ropes also had a slight musky smell, which filled the air around the structures. Some visitors enjoyed it. Others found it more challenging. But this was the idea. The smell added an extra sensory dimension to the Re-Connect experience. Not only could people see the new fabric trends, they could feel, experience and sense them.
Top five take-outs
1: Immerse your visitor. Demonstrate your products in an emotional context.
2: Be provocative. Why use a perfumed scent when a natural one can be more challenging?
3: Use architecture. Build a structure that uses your products to surround your customer or visitor.
4: Be unpredictable. The Re-Connect show was significantly removed from the typical Trend Forum format.
5: Create a journey. Use architecture to build a path for customers to walk into in order to create a greater sense of discovery when they see your products.