Interview with Mrs Ulrike Wechsung

Kohan Textile Journal

Interview with Mrs Ulrike Wechsung Director of Heimtextil Exhibition

1. Please elaborate on the general aspects of the Heimtextil exhibition, concerning the location and different parts of it, are there any new things added to the exhibition?

Heimtextil in Frankfurt (Germany) is the biggest international trade fair for home and contract textiles and the world’s benchmark for quality textiles distinguished by design and innovative functionality. Held on four days in January, Heimtextil is the first trade fair of the year and the foremost platform for manufacturers, the trade and designers. From 9 to 12 January 2013, international exhibitors will present their products to an audience of trade visitors. As the leading international trade fair for the sector, Heimtextil shows the complete portfolio of home and household textiles – from bed, bathroom and table textiles to products from the window, upholstered furniture, floors, walls and sun protection segments – in 19 exhibition halls. This assortment is rounded off by a variety of special presentations, expert lectures, awards ceremonies and events for the sector.

At the coming Heimtextil, the organisers of the world’s leading trade fair for home and contract textiles will place greater emphasis on the presentation of textile design. In future, the design area in Hall 4.2 will be known as ‘Design live’ and have a new look. In addition to the multi-faceted range offered by the textile designers taking part, visitors can look forward to inspiring presentations by young designers.

By restructuring our design area, we aim to underscore the significance of Heimtextil as the biggest international platform for textile design. Visitors can look forward to a new, modern presentation of first-class design work. Around 150 international exhibitors, including some new studios taking part in the fair for the first time, will show their creative ideas for home and household textiles in a special newcomers’ area of Hall 4.2. The spectrum to be seen at ‘Design live’ includes not only the work of design studios but also CAD/CAM and ink-jet applications.

Creative young people present their projects: In the immediate vicinity of Design live, Heimtextil offers talented young designers a platform on which to present creative textile projects. And, for the first time, Heimtextil is holding a new competition – the ‘Young Creations Award: Upcycling’ – in which students of Aachen University of Applied Sciences and Coburg University present their works. Their task is to create products for interiors at the same time as adhering to the principle of sustainability. At the fair, visitors to Hall 4.2 will be called on to rate the projects shown. Another source of inspiration for visitors from the industry, interior design, architecture and textile design will be the Campus area. In cooperation with the Berlin-based ‘rooms for free’ association, Heimtextil is organising the seventh special exhibition of leading European design universities with their ideas for textile fabrics.

Exclusive Preview on the eve of the fair: The Heimtextil organisers give exhibitors the chance to see the product world of ‘Design live’ before the fair officially opens and to make contact with the design studios. On 8 January 2013, Hall 4.2 will be open exclusively for exhibitors and representatives of the press from 10.00 to 18.00 hrs.

2. Based on the daily growth of the home textile products in the different countries, how would you see the future of this industry?

Following a good 2011 in Germany with a sales increase of approx. 7 percent, 2012 began with companies reporting stable figures and an optimistic view of the situation and outlook. Now, in the middle of the year, the sales index for the textile sector has begun to decline. However, given the high level and the continued positive expectations, this is no reason for concern. According to the figures for the sector, an end to the upswing, let alone a recession, is not in sight at present. For Europe as a whole, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex) has also announced encouraging figures. Thus, total sales of EU textile manufacturers rose by 5 percent compared to the year before. Imports of textiles from non-EU countries rose by almost 14 percent. Textile exports also rose – by 8 percent. In view of the developments taking place in the financial markets, it is difficult to make a prognosis for 2012 and beyond.

3. What are your opinions concerning the promising market in the Middle East & North Africa and the importance of Heimtextil to the traders and the manufacturers in this region? How many exhibitors and visitors did you have from the Middle East this year? How do you evaluate the share of ME countries among your customers in future?

Both the Middle East and North Africa are important markets for production and sales in the future. We hope that their current share of eight percent of all visitors will increase. Our Sales Partners in Egypt, Morocco and the UAE are very active in their countries and the whole region, which is distinguished by a very long and admirable textile tradition.

4. What is your prediction concerning the number of exhibitors and visitors this year? Has the European economic crisis had any effects on the exhibition and the reception of the visitors?

On the basis of the increased number of exhibitors at the last Heimtextil and positive economic reports from the domestic market, it looks as if Heimtextil 2013 will be extremely well attended. With five months still to go before the doors open (9 to 12 January 2013), the international trade fair for home and contract textiles is already almost fully booked up. At the beginning of this year, around 70,000 visitors from 132 countries made their way to Frankfurt where around 2,600 exhibitors from 60 nations presented their latest products – 3 percent more than in 2011.

5. Undoubtedly, Heimtextil accounts for the best and the most important event in the textile industry. The exhibitors are very pleased with the different aspects of the exhibition but some of the European exhibitors and famous brands believed that the presence of about 1000 companies from India, China and Turkey was not appropriate for a win-win business. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Yes, Heimtextil endeavours to present the entire home and contract textiles industry at the most important event of the year. And, yes, we see that some companies do not regard taking part in a highly international atmosphere as being advantageous. This is regrettable. However, a closer look at such cases reveals that not all companies are seeking export markets or international business. This is something that the market and we, too, as a major market place have to accept. Nevertheless, self-limitation in general and in business is contradictory in times where the world is becoming more and more global.

6. Can you explain more about the importance of Heimtextil for the home textile industry and future trends and designs?

We see that the worldwide megatrend – the search for identity – is having a great influence on the market for home textiles. “Individualisation and the New Identity Markets” is the title of a recent study commissioned by Heimtextil. The results of this ‘Management Report’ permit a view of possible future scenarios for the home and work environments and trends that could be helpful for production, communication and sales strategies in the home-textiles sector. For example, on the basis of trend research and a supplementary online survey of German consumers, the Management Report shows that attitudes towards health and well-being are changing. The trend is away from lifestyle to ‘health style’. Thus, these attitudes are impacting on consumer culture and increasing consumer willingness to accept higher prices for high quality and sustainable products.

In August, 4 months before their presentation at Heimtextil 2013, exhibitors and the trade press will be given a preview of the new Heimtextil Trend for 2013/14.  Called ‘Being’, the new Trend prepared by the international designers of the Heimtextil Trendtable shows the direction expected to be taken in the coming season. The ‘Being’ Trend Book for 2013/14 embraces four themes, each of which is illustrated by a striking character. Under the motto, ‘You are as you live’, the trend experts have created four personalities, each driven by their own unequivocal idea of life and existence. The result is characters that embody current social tendencies – the Historian, the Eccentric, the Inventor and the Geologist. The home is regarded as an important aspect of personality whereby account is also taken of the emotional effects of changes to interior design. The challenge is to find solutions that improve our homes and way of life.

By way of example, the Report presents current avant-garde projects from the fields of interior design, architecture, fashion, design and art. As the world’s biggest trade fair for home and contract textiles, Heimtextil plays a particularly important role as a trend barometer and benchmark for high-quality textiles characterised by top design and innovative functionality and it was against this background that Messe Frankfurt launched the Heimtextil Trend back in 1991. Every year since then, a Trendtable of international experts has prepared the most important general tendencies to provide product developers, creative teams, furnishing experts and designers with a valuable orientation aid and reliable trend predictions.

At the fair in January 2013, the new trend themes will be visualised in an elaborate special show in Forum 0. Anne Marie Commandeur, designer and CEO of Stijlinstituut Amsterdam, will present the new Heimtextil Trend Book, ‘Being’, in the ‘Portalhaus’ of Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre on 24 August 2012, during the Tendence trade fair. Heimtextil exhibitors, designers, furnishing specialists and interior decorators take advantage of this opportunity to find out about the latest design developments around four and a half months before Heimtextil begins (9 to 12 January 2013).

7. Heimtextil Germany has made itself known as the greatest event in home textile industry. Do you think this popularity will undermine other Heimtextil branches, such as Russia?


8. Please explain Messe Frankfurt’s exhibition strategies, general policies and views on the organization of textile exhibitions in different parts of the world? What is your policy and plan for fair performance with most quality and quantity?

No, we do not have any reason to assume such an effect. On the contrary, our experience is that our trade shows outside Germany perfectly transport the Heimtextil Frankfurt level of quality and, thus, help to strengthen our worldwide network of textile expertise. We owe many thanks to the industries abroad and to our local subsidiaries for maintaining and expanding this huge network of textile events!

9. Do you think Asia is becoming an increasing challenge for the trade fair industry?

We are very glad to see our Asian subsidiaries grow year by year in terms of event numbers and results. Indeed, Asia is a big and growing market, and has been for some decades now. Thus, Messe Frankfurt was the first German trade fair company to organise branded shows in China when we launched a renowned apparel fabrics show in the late 1980s. Naturally, it is interesting to observe the way in which India, Vietnam or other upcoming textile markets will develop.

10. Could you possibly add any further points or comments to this interview, which you believe were not included in the questions?

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions. We are looking forward very much to welcoming the representatives of the Iranian textile industry, design and trade to Heimtextil in Frankfurt in January 2013!


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