Function, Form And Flexibility: Lighting Trends At IMM Cologne

Lighting Trends

From a house made of light, to walls of hanging LEDs and flexible lighting systems in myriad forms — in collaboration with Samsung The Frame TV, we visited exhibitors at this year’s IMM Cologne seeking the most luminous in trends.

Lighting design requires not only technical skills, but a sensitive design-mind; a lighting system being an aesthetic object that creates a wider ambience. This idea was central to this year’s IMM Cologne; with many exhibitors and formats focusing on how lighting can be used as an aesthetically sophisticated design element. The Creative Director of the fair, Dick Spierenburg, explained that such poetic uses of light should be a point of inspiration to interior designers seeking design solutions. “We are featuring light very prominently at IMM Cologne this year,” he explains. “With a focus on both decorative and technical lighting that is especially interesting for architectural solutions.” This they have achieved through multiple sections dedicated to light — Light Labs, Pure Editions and Das Haus.

This year, the design fair is hosting a nine Light Labs as a part of Featured Editions, in which premier design houses have created conceptual installations that take lighting out of the interior-realm. Housed within pyramidal structures draped in gauze, these light installations were developed as collaborations between designers and artists — the outcome; playful, colorful and distinctly of the now. ‘Luce’s Tower’ by Giulio Cappellini and Antonio Facco stacks colored glass cubes and luminous LEDs atop one another; whilst Christoph de la Fontaine’s three ‘Nightingales’ seem reminiscent of new-age lighthouses, casting a rotating glow from their spherical heads. In their installation for Pedrali, design-duo Calvi Brambilla have created a comic face off between between the wireless ‘Giravolta’ and a Hydra-headed collection of cables — a battle between good and evil, the duo explain. Lucie Smyslová’s installation for Brokis hangs dancingly above a jungle, whilst Vitra pays homage to the past in their piece — ‘Light Sculpture’ standing as an ode to Isamu Noguchi, whose lanterns made from traditional shoji paper have been multiplied, filing the pyramid with translucent, familiar shapes. While the lighting at this year’s fair is conceptual and forward thinking, it is not without its foot firmly in the past.


01 ‘Luce’s Tower’ by Giulio Cappellini and Antonio Facco, 02 ‘Nightingales’ by Christoph de la Fontaine, 03 ‘Giravolta’ by Calvi Brambilla for Pedrali, 04 ‘Light as a Metaphor for Life’ by Lucie Smyslová for Brokis, 05 ‘Light Sculpture’ by Vitra


Louis Poulsen

In Pure Editions lighting becomes both a design element, and a decoration. “Pure Editions stands for young, visionary and innovative design,” explains Dick Spierenburg. “So, it was a logical step for us to put greater focus on decorative lighting design here… The addition of the subject of light to the focus of Pure Editions fits in very well with…this holistic approach to interiors.” Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen is exemplary of the design that IMM Cologne is promoting — and at the time of writing, was releasing the PH 5 pendant in a vibrant range of colors, bringing one of history’s favorite lighting pieces into the contemporary-colored realm six decades after it was first pioneered by Poul Henningsen.


‘PH 5’ by Louis Poulsen


Muller Van Severen

Designer-couple Fien Muller and Hannes van Severen — Muller Van Severen — are being exhibited at IMM by the inimitable Valerie Objects from Antwerp. Their restrained but playful aesthetic, so characteristic of their work, is evident in their collection of hanging lamps. Whilst known best for their furniture, the couple’s design history actually began with the conceptualization of these light fittings. Hannes explains; “We were working in our new home, which is an old house. Above the table there wasn’t a socket in the ceiling to stick a lightbulb in, so we designed a lamp that could hang from the wall.” The resulting brass pieces elegantly inhabit the room with a presence that doesn’t cost you floorspace.


‘Hanging Lamps’ by Muller Van Severen for Valerie Objects



At the center of Pure Editions is the luminous Das Haus, designed by Lucie Koldova — the artistic director of Czech lighting studio Brokis. You can read our interview with Lucie her design and Das Haus here. Ever the innovators, Brokis has reinvigorated the Bohemian glass blowing tradition through innovative practice and contemporary forms. Lucie Koldova’s ‘Macaron’ table lamp is a crystalline orb that seems to glisten with sweetness. Chiaramonte Marin’s ‘Knot’ pendant lightings throw contrasting materials — blown glass and natural fibres — against one another in a considered and deliberate way. All of Brokis’ lighting is united by a desire to be more than just a functional object.

ignant-BIG ONE-01-Lucie Koldova
ignant-PURO SPARKLER-02-Lucie Koldova
ignant-JACK O LANTERN-01-Lucie Koldova

‘Big One’, ‘Sparkle’ & ‘Jack O Lantern’ by Lucie Koldova for Brokis



The conceptual Rotterdam design studio Truly Truly have teamed up with Melbourne luminaires Rakumba to create a decorative, but functional lighting system. ‘Typography’ is inspired by the way that characters form words, and how these words then create stories in and of themselves. The pair explain this as being a “graphic lighting system,” one in which a series of both horizontal and vertical rails are home to as many, or as few, lights as you desire — enabling almost limitless design possibilities from a single object.


‘Typography’ by Truly Truly for Rakumba



Such flexibility was also key to the design work of AKTTEM, a German design brand that was launched at this year’s IMM Cologne. Designer Verena Hennig’s ‘Rope Light’ is as innovative as it is ethereal —  from the ceiling three filigrane pendants of LED bars housed in acrylic and mesh hang. Dependent on the configuration you choose to place ‘Rope Light’ in, it behaves as much as a sculpture, or a room divider, or a chandelier, as you would desire it to.


‘Rope Light’ by Verena Henning for AKTTEM



At Copenhagen’s PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED, this openness of form continued in the lighting design of Mette Schelde. The multi-colored discs of ‘Planet Lamp’ are magnetized — allowing movement and a multitude of possible shadows to be cast via the indirect halogen light that glows from the main steel bar. With a similar playful bend, and utilizing the color-scheme of all PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED products, the LED bulb in Mette’s ‘Blooper’ Lamp is controlled by rotating the colored disc at its front.

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‘Planet Lamp’ by PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED


In collaboration with:samsung the frame logo


SCENT by AOIRO x Ignant

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