IMM Cologne – 2020 Report

Hill Cross Furniture were one of the 128,000 visitors, from 145 different countries, at IMM Cologne, a week long international furnishing fair located in the heart of Germany. Compared to Salone del Mobile Milano, which has over 370,000 professional visitors, IMM was fairly quiet. The feel when visiting the fair is that it’s very business orientated and offers deal making opportunities as the products exhibited are ready available. To compare this to Milan stands are often full of prototypes that are not available for a readily.

Being right at the beginning of the year it gives the 1,233 exhibitors a chance to present new furniture and interior trends.

Sustainability – A strong focus…

Sustainability is at the forefront of everything that Hill Cross is trying to do, with our current customers knowing all about our piece of fixed seating that is 100% sustainable!

It was refreshing to see the desire from some exhibitors to make sustainability a key focus. Including a collection of coffee tables and shelves being made from recycled yoghurt pots and PET packaging.

Terra from Select by Lech is trying to help create a clean environment by giving a second life to plastic bottles to create their material. The fibres used to make the fabric incorporate post-consumer recycled polyester.

As with most exhibitions there were some amazing stand designs including a sustainable secret garden! A design based concept that was driven by minimising the use of materials in constructing the stand in order to avoid producing waste. Within the stand there was a regeneration counter that showed off Used Plastic, Shredding, Homogenising and moulding from regenerated plastic.

Being based in a rural part of North East England it is normal for us to be surrounded by farm animals. When we visited a supplier that was able to offer horse hair as an alternative to foam it fascinated us greatly. Another sustainable option on offer was a restoration service for chairs that can be brought back for care and repair, even ones produced 50 or more years ago. The second life cycle could give the chance of the chair to be upholstered in Vegetable tanned leather instead of the traditional method involving chrome.  


IMM Cologne offers an amazing opportunity to find new and exciting suppliers along with improving relationships with current ones. There was a real variety of outdoor furniture on offer ranging from Metal Frames, Wicker Details, Rattan Feature Pieces and even extensive Wooden Collections suitable for Outdoor Contract use.

Hill Cross met with a new supplier who works alongside 500 Colombian families that use recycled PVC to create a metal frame suitable for Outdoor use. With different frame and rope colours available and stocked in Europe all types of customers can be catered for. Different areas of Colombia is needed in the manufacturing process as Wood is produced in one area, metal in another, clay pots where the soil is good. The traditional methods of manufacturing has been passed down the generations with an intention of the methods being preserved in the future.  

Away from the normal Polypropylene and Metal Outdoor Furniture that Hill Cross are familiar supplying, to combat the wet weather within the UK, a growing trend of affordable Outdoor Wooden Furniture was evident. With numerous exhibitors showing wooden products that have a Dual purpose of indoor and outdoor use. The Wooden Framed outdoor furniture can provide your venue with both style and a point of differentiation.

Continuing with Sustainability theme, it was good to visit one of our current suppliers who were showing new models that we will soon be adding to our sustainable product offering.  

Colours – Pastel & Woodland colours

Looking back at the Hill Cross Milan trend report it was noted that bright hues of red, yellow, blue and green were prominent, and we have seen this colour pallet prove popular throughout the year. However this wasn’t the case during IMM Cologne. With a lot of autumnal colours evident the pastel colours of 2018 seemed to be making a strong return to fashion.

Upon arriving at Cologne it was expected that white would be the base colour for outdoor furniture following the Spoga-Gafa trade fair in Cologne a few months before. However this trend seemed to have disappeared and black frames have become more prominent. This could be to compliment the change back to pastel colours being used regularly.  

With Cologne being positioned in the first few weeks of the year the colours of the season seemed to have influenced the colours used. With Milan being in the summer month’s pastel colours will not show off products to their full capacity whereas in January the vibe and mood is much more suited to the colours on show.

Shapes – Geometric & Angular

One of the key elements we look at when identifying trends is shape or form. This year we saw a huge influx of Geometric and Angular shapes on show throughout the exhibition across both Indoor and Outdoor Furniture

As usual the popular Outdoor Dining Armchair was extremely prevalent throughout the stands that Hill Cross visited, however it was noted that there seems to be a movement towards feature arm detail such as Angular Shapes, Rattan, Strapping and Rope elements.

Another key design feature that seemed to be well presented was rounded seat pads again for both Indoor and Outdoor products. Although this has always been a feature that has been possible it seems that exhibitors were using it on their stands to highlight a difference in an otherwise standard product offering. These slight alterations to models could elevate your design to the next level.

In Summary – Closing thoughts…

When speaking to exhibitors they mentioned that the show was quiet and the number of traffic was low, which was a real shame. However for Hill Cross as a visitor this was an advantageous as it enabled the team to be able to reach out to suppliers that without IMM we would never have discovered. This will help to improve the Hill Cross supply chain which will make us stand out even more compared to our competitors. And finally of course it was brilliant to catch up with existing suppliers and develop our relations even further.  

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