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Shaping the future of the Cologne furniture fair

16-21 Jan 2023 • imm cologne

“We will expand imm cologne into a business, dialogue and content platform,” says Matthias Pollmann, Vice President Trade Fair Management at Koelnmesse, about the future of imm cologne as the leading business platform and think tank for the furnishings industry.“

Mr Pollmann, you will usher in a paradigm shift with imm cologne 2023. What are the cornerstones of this initiative?

We used the respite to revise the existing concept and lay the foundation for a completely new trade fair experience. What a trade fair like imm cologne is offering will be changing in the future. It not only has to generate business and provide inspiration through products and presentations, but also increasingly develop an independent approach in order to create fresh business opportunities in line with our new guiding principle of “up next business”. We want to actively reimagine the business success of the furnishings industry beyond exhibitor product presentations with a new setup for the hall layout as well as our thought leadership and business enablement offerings.

What do you mean?

We give the world something new. From our perspective, leading trade fairs need to build their own momentum in the future. We can and need to bring up issues for discussion that are important to people. Issues such as sustainability and climate protection are social challenges that have a direct impact on our lives and living. It is a necessary discussion that we will promote even more strongly in the years to come. In our view, it will become imperative for companies to balance business success with social responsibility. Climate protection and sustainable action in the manufacture of innovative products not only play a vital role in the positioning of a company but especially from the perspective of consumers. For us as a trade fair company, that means transforming ourselves from a content mover to thought leader – in other words, as a conduit for content that stimulates forward thinking.

Thought leaders, that is opinion leaders, have a great deal of expertise in their field and also embody innovation and vision. How do you want to shape this process at imm cologne?

We see our future role as offering a platform for innovative companies, interior design brands and the public – a platform to generate business and that also serves as a forum to discuss socially relevant issues and find solutions through new products and ways of doing things. By moderating these topics, we put global developments, issues and problems in an industry context and create new business opportunities

How will this new style of moderation be reflected at the trade fair?

The trade fair will not only take place during the event in January, but also be present throughout the year. The trade fair’s new content hub, a new event format with matchmaking features and digital forums, has the function of identifying, organising and making topics accessible. The trade fair will promote awareness of these topics within the community and prepare participants for the event by providing in-depth information. In addition to a permanent digital presence, as moderator of the interactive platform, the trade fair will also assume the role of opinion leader for our industry. This will be reflected at the trade fair in the form of thematically diverse forums, meeting formats, multimedia features and trend presentations in all the exhibition halls. We will begin this transformation at imm cologne 2023 and gradually expand it into a dialogue and knowledge platform. Business, networking and inspiration – these three keywords define the new role of a trade fair like imm cologne and underscore its claim to play an active role in shaping the future.

Does that mean that the trade fair determines the topics?

“Determine” is perhaps not the right word – in terms of business enablement, we are the platform and partner for the industry. We see our role as a mediator for topics that are relevant to the industry because only in this way can we create sustainable success for our exhibitors.

So how can we imagine the imm cologne past 2023?

In order to create a new sustainable trade fair experience, it was absolutely necessary to renew the trade fair structure. The first step towards a realignment of imm cologne will be reflected in a new hall layout both structurally and in terms of content. In order to meet the increased demand for inspiration and content-related exchange, the range of new theme-driven presentation elements will be expanded both with regard to the spots as well as business enabling formats like the Business Plazza. In general, we are facing a lengthy reorganisation process. However, it will be based on the familiar structure. At the same time, we plan to focus more on diversity in the future and less on uniformity. Imm cologne will gradually open up to an interdisciplinary field of exhibitors and offer more scope to accommodate the customer wishes of its highly diverse exhibitors. The broader brand spectrum and group of exhibitors will also significantly contribute to imm cologne’s attractiveness for the community, city and public.

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