Contract business at Ambiente – interview with Yvonne Engelmann
Contract business has been gaining considerably in importance for quite a few years now. This makes Ambiente a vital hotspot for professional buyers in the Living and Giving segments. It will be held from 7 to 11 February 2020, offering architects, contract suppliers and planners a place for inspiration, trends and innovative solutions.
Interview partner Yvonne Engelmann, head of Living and Giving
1. Buyers will find plenty of inspiration in the contract business range and, more importantly, they will find suitable partners for their specific projects at the trade fair itself. Ms. Engelmann, what exactly will professional buyers find at Ambiente?
Contract business has always been an important part of Ambiente. We’ve been highlighting contract business for Ambiente buyers since 2012, targeting, in particular, designers, furnishers and contract suppliers. While the retail trade in Europe and the United States is rather stagnant at the moment, segments such as hotel furnishings and food services are heading for global growth. The biggest revenue drivers are therefore tourism, business trips and developments in the property market. The share of international travelling, for example, has doubled throughout the world since 2010. As a hotspot for contract business, Ambiente has seen a recent increase not only in hotel, restaurant and catering (HoReCa) suppliers over the last few years, but also in exhibitors focusing on international contract business. It provides buyers with a unique opportunity to order front-of-house products both from the HoReCa collections of Dining exhibitors as well as from the lifestyle collections of Living and Giving exhibitors – over 700 in all. Ambiente has suitable ranges of furnishing and high-quality design products for professionals and decision-makers from the hotel and catering industry as well as for professional buyers, furnishers, designers and interior designers of hotels, restaurants, clubs and co-working spaces.
2. Can you give any examples of what such specially tailored solutions can look like?
Exhibitors such as Normann Copenhagen, Serax and Scholtissek offer visitors exciting opportunities to present their contract business products in a new and innovative way. Together with CPH:DOX, for example, he designed the platform for the 16th Documentary Film Festival in Copenhagen. The festival was based in Kunsthal Charlottenborg, a magnificent baroque palace, where it was transformed into a dynamic international venue for meet’n’greets, conversations, parties, concerts, industry events and film showings. The visual universe of the 2019 festival was developed as a collaborative venture between Normann Copenhagen, on the one hand, and Maria Bruun and Anne Dorthe Vester from design studio MBADV, on the other. Together, they curated the entire visitor experience from the first step into the building to the many high-ceilinged halls, including a sofa cinema, a VR room and a vibrant lounge.
Vincent Van Duysen’s vision, which is the result of his unbridled inquisitiveness, always leads to an inclusive atmosphere in which he seamlessly combines architecture, interior design and designer items. He remained faithful to this vision even when he was commissioned by Serax to transform the cloisters of the former military hospital in Antwerp into a hotel – Hotel August Antwerpen. For the terrace he designed an outdoor collection, comprising a series of minimalist chairs which effortlessly combine the history of the building with a modern interpretation. The collection is made of aluminium with either black or greyish-green powder coating, so that it is equally suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The upright chairs, the lounge chair and the table are an expression of the simplicity of the monastic life which inspired them.
Scholtissek specialises in designer furniture with artisan quality, creating a special and indeed unusual atmosphere with a touch of luxury. One of its latest items is a small box-like piece of furniture, which is also extremely versatile. As a large amount of individualism is now in demand in the contract business, cupboards and wardrobes like these are extremely popular in offices, restaurants and the hotel industry. Their interiors can be customised to suit the intended purpose. As well as a standard interior – i.e. either two wooden or four glass surfaces – there are also two different interior divisions for bars and one for an office. Fronts and outsides are available in wood, glass, ceramics, natural stone or leather, giving each customer the freedom of designing them so that they ideally match the entire interior design of the room.
Serax: The outdoor collection for Hotel August in Antwerp
3. How international are the contract business providers?
Contract business buyers will find an attractive spectrum of international brands in Frankfurt, as around 60 per cent of contract business exhibitors at Ambiente are international. The forthcoming Ambiente will feature numerous prestigious companies, presenting a wide range of premium products and ideas for the interior design of commercial premises, including suitable accessories. They will include Giobagnara, Normann Copenhagen and Dôme Deco.
4. The Contract & HoReCa Guide and the Ambiente Navigator app will help visitors quickly find their way around Ambiente, so they can’t miss the exhibitors they need. Where can you find the guide and the app?
The Contract and HoReCa Guide will, as in previous years, be offered to buyers and decision-makers from the hospitality and contract business, enabling them to find their bearings. The stand of each exhibitor is clearly marked with a special sign indicating that they demonstrably have the required expertise and experience in furnishing commercial properties. The guide will be available free of charge throughout the exhibition grounds for the duration of Ambiente. There is also a free app, the Ambiente Navigator, for smartphones and tablets. It’s the perfect digital exhibition guide and can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store a few weeks before the trade fair. It has a wide range of practical features, and the exhibition grounds have free Wi-Fi, so that visitors can easily use all online services on site. It’s well worth downloading to your phone.
5. The purpose of the HoReCa hall (Hall 6.0) is to complement the existing product range of the trade fair from 2020 onwards. The idea is to add an even clearer focus to the trade fair by appealing specifically to the growing number of visitors interested in HoReCa. So will there be a connection between the two areas, HoReCa and Contract Business?
Ambiente visitors will have the unique opportunity to experience a combination of HoReCa and Living topics. It’s important for our buyers to order products not only in a purely functional HoReCa environment, but also in the environment of a lifestyle trade fair such as Ambiente. There is considerable demand in the market, and it’s growing. Each day a guided tour will be offered by the hospitality expert Pierre Nierhaus, who is well known for his international trend exhibitions. The trend tours, called HoReCa Meets Contract, will be free of charge, and are open to everyone, daily from 14:00 to 15:30 hrs. Participants are requested to register at the reception desk of the HoReCa Academy at Stand D40 in Hall 6.0. On his tours Pierre Nierhaus will be highlighting the new furnishing trends and concepts of selected front-of-house exhibitors in both Dining (Hall 6.0) and Living. He will show how professional buyers can find their entire contract supplies at Ambiente, not just for tableware, but also furniture, home accessories, lighting and textiles. This is what makes Ambiente such an important event and indeed the leading platform for front-of-house supplies.
The next >> Ambiente will be held from 7 to 11 February 2020.
Text: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH, Patricia Fritzsche
Photos: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH, Normann Copenhagen, Serax, Scholtissek