Hi Friends! As most of you know I was recently lucky enough to travel to Frankfurt, Germany on the #BlogTourAmbiente trip. Some of you are wondering What the heck is Blog Tour? and What the heck is Ambiente? I have all the answers right here. But first, take a look at that skyline above. Old and new bathed in the blue of dusk. Not bad for an iPhone on a moving bus. You pretty Frankfurt.
photo: Chasen West
Blog Tour is the invention of the lovely and talented Veronika Miller (in the green scarf), principal of the web site Modenus. The site features design pros and suppliers and connects them via Blog Tours to key design trade destinations. Tour attendees are mostly design pros working big budget projects who are also bloggers and active on social media. Love of wine seems to be a qualifier too, but that’s another story (look closely at the pic above and you'll see most of us are clutching glasses of a spectacular German sparkling wine, and yes, that's the magnif Rhein river beyond). What’s my connection? Well, I love wine, but I guess my social media profile and blogging are factors. Oh yes, and thanks to my day job I’m usually reppin’ Old School print too :::insert gang signs::: (But this time I was not on official mag biz -- this was vacay for me!)
So one way or another I received an invitation to join this group. The invitation landed in my inbox right around when my world had turned upside down. My Dad had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery on Dec. 24. The next day (oh yes, that was Christmas) I was stricken with an intense bout of food poisoning that lasted a week. Once I recovered I went to stay with my Dad after he was sent home following surgery. It was crazy stressful times. Once things started to normalize it wasn’t too hard for me to say, “Yes please Veronika, take me away and please make sure there is wine…and beer!”. (Didn’t hurt that the trip was scheduled for my BDay - Happy BDay to me!)
The sole sponsor for this Blog Tour was the Ambiente Fair itself. Ambiente is a truly ginormous trade show for tabletop, home decor and giftware. Here are my two fave stats about the show: it features more than 4,800 exhibitors (more than double the size of the NYNOW Gift Show) and the city of Frankfurt has been hosting such trade events for, get this, 775 YEARS. That’s SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE!
OK, enough with the long preamble. On to some eye candy. I took more than 1,000 photos at the show, so needless to say I will be cooking up a few more posts. Since tabletop is one of the main aspects of the show, I thought I’d start with one of the clearest trend messages I spotted: blue-and-white dinnerware. Now, in the business of trendspotting I would say blue-and-white dishes are not the newsiest of news. They’ve been coming on strong for a number of seasons, but I offer this as evidence we may be at peak blue-and-white.
When you think blue-and-white ceramics do you think of Portugal? Sure you do! And do you think of century-old hand-painted tile? Maybe. These dishes are made by Costa Nova of Portugal. The pattern, called Lisboa, recalls the look of ages old hand-painted tile. I’ve seen some of this company’s products for sale at Anthropologie and Hudson’s Bay stores, so keep your eyes peeled.
Dutch manufacturer Wegter makes these sweet striped mugs under its Dutch Rose brand. They have a preppy vibe and make me think of lingering over late-morning coffee at the cottage.
Richard Ginori is an Italian luxury brand that was recently bought out by Gucci. The Oro Di Docchia Turchese porcelain pattern hints at tradition but is expressed with a lightness of hand that feels modern.
And if blue-and-white isn’t the official national colour scheme of Greece it should be. This pretty pattern from Ionia is inspired by mosaic tile, natch!
But the company had a whole wall of blue-and-white patterns on offer.
And in the category of Best winter/Holiday pattern that isn’t one bit cheesy, the winner is clearly the German company Kahla. I just love the modern shape and subtle silhouetted tree pattern. It's actually called "Blue Hour" and I think of it as the forest equivalent of my photo of the Frankfurt skyline - same hour, same palette. These are so brand new they are schedded for release for Advent season 2015.
Marbelization is another trend that is still going strong. These platters and bowls from LCHome are prime examples in the palette of the moment.
Paola Navone’s Taste Blue collection for Reichenbach is well known already (left), but I loved this new dipped collection with an interesting shape and overall more rustic casual mood.
And our old friends at Royal Doulton are shrugging off a rep for painted lady figurines thanks to several new collections and design collabs. This mix and match batch, called Pacific, includes a few designs in another of Ambiente’s main trend motifs: splatter and brushstroke.
And speaking of brushstrokes, check out this awesomeness from Spal of Portugal. It’s called Random and it’s so cool. I’ve got half a mind to go buy some porcelain paint and get DIYing up some of these asap. Would never be the same though, of course.
Tognana is another Italian company that brings some modern pretty in the form of these simple stripped down florals. Sweet.
You’ve likely seen Tokyo Design Studio dishes and bowls at Anthro. These allover patterns borrow from traditional Japanese design but have a million uses beyond the dinner table. Ok, maybe not a million, but you get the point.
And finally, I was charmed by this booth Wonkiware from South Africa. The concept here is to mix up several different designs to create a set. The picnic check plate is definitely a fave.
So that’s it for instalment No. 1 from Ambiente. Come back for more!