After the Great Recession, people started investing more in their homes and permanent spaces instead of vacations, and expanded upon their backyard retreats. At spoga+gafa, it was evident that the product quality of furnishings for these outdoor living rooms have increased with demand and innovation, and UV- and water-resistant patio goods are starting to look more like indoor couches, rugs and chairs. One company, Peter Bosman Products, displayed outdoor wallpaper that is resistant to fading from sun damage. As more people move to urban areas, the demand for small outdoor furniture is also increasing.
Garden BBQ and outdoor kitchen World
Entire halls were dedicated to outdoor kitchens and BBQ, categories that have greatly expanded at spoga+gafa. The majority of companies exhibiting at spoga+gafa are European, but of the American companies that showcase products at the German trade show, many are in the garden kitchen and BBQ sections, such as Big Green Egg, Saffire Grill and Coyote Outdoor Living. Though Europe is often credited for being ahead in certain trends, outdoor cooking is not one of them, according to exhibitors. Just like furniture, outdoor grills, pizza ovens, and full kitchens are just as sophisticated as appliances made for indoors. There are some companies that rely on old, tried-and-true technologies, like those that sell the increasingly popular Kamado grills that provide efficient heating, making grilling easier for home chefs and giving them success.
spoga+gafa highlighted companies using technology to make gardening easier and more efficient. Oase, for example, has developed technology for ponds that allows people to control everything from lights to pumps from a smartphone, PC or tablet with cloud technology. Though the products can be used by anyone, it makes it increasingly easy for landscapers and garden designers to monitor clients’ homes from one central location. Gardena, which has been producing robotic lawn mowers for two decades, also produces smart sensors that measure temperature, humidity and more to automatically determine when lawns need watered.
These classic lawn and garden loungers were everywhere at spoga+gafa, in various materials and colors. A few stood out, including a hammock from Fatboy that is designed to be easier to get in and out of, a constant struggle for hammock lovers. There were other new, hammock-inspired products, like TiiPii Bed, a “portable floating bed” that comes in three sizes for kids, individuals or families. Kaemingk had several hanging chairs on the show floor, too, including an egg-shaped loveseat.
Mid-century modern has been experiencing a resurgence in indoor furniture and décor for a few years, and outdoor living manufacturers are creating pieces in the style that look too nice to leave outside.
A surge in products with multiple uses was a noted trend during a spoga+gafa group tour led by Frank A. Reinhardt, a trend researcher based in Cologne. Bama Pet’s pet bed/planter stand combo was a perfect example of this, as was Fab Habitat’s outdoor stool that functions as both a place to sit and store patio items.
Light up your yard
Reinhardt also noted the increasing interest in outdoor lighting, both ambient and decorative. We spotted several items on the trade show floor, like Monacis’ illuminated planters equipped with energy-saving bulbs, and Fatboy’s outdoor light fixtures and lamps.
Gray and green
Although there were still some bold-colored containers and furniture to find on the show floor, neutrals dominated, especially gray shades, from cloudy to charcoal. This is in line with color trend authorities, like paint brands, which have named colors like “Poised Taupe” and “Shadow” as top hues in recent years. Grassy colors were also spotted everywhere. Perhaps this inspiration comes from the plants that are the backbone of the lawn and garden industry or from Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, “Greenery.”
Strandkorbs or “hooded beach chairs” are everywhere in Germany, and thus ubiquitous on the spoga+gafa trade show floor. Though strandkorbs have been around since the late 1800s, their popularity has not dwindled, as many exhibitors offered them in various styles. Though much of the wicker-like furniture on the show floor is now faux and made of recycled plastic, deVries “Trendy Pure Classic” stradkorb collection is made of braided hardwood.
Using old, rustic items for new purposes is popular, but it was the first time we have seen furniture made of old canoes.
For the past five years, spoga+gafa has hosted its unique youngstar contest, inviting young designers to submit entries based on a theme. For 2017, 81 designers from 18 countries submitted creations based on the theme “outdoor living.” Taking home the first place prize and 3,000 euros was Jessica Bruni of Germany for her entry, “Pflanzen Talje” or “Plant Pulley.” Her design, best suited for indoor plants, is modern and simple but also functional. The pulley system includes sandbags, which provide the appropriate counterweight to plants, making it easy to pull plants down when they need watered. As plants dry out, they get lighter and move higher, indicating it’s time to water. The second-place prize went to Pieter Städler of the Netherlands for his “Städler Made Outdoor Oven,” and third place went to Amélie Ikas and Chris Walter of Germany for “Sitzend stehend Leute,” or “sitting standing people.”
Just like independent garden centers are focused on providing customers with great experiences when they shop in-store, exhibitors at spoga+gafa gave attendees reasons to spend time in their booths. There were many notable examples of this, but three that stand out are elho, Weber and Emsa. Elho’s more than 7,000-square-foot booth was inspired by its tagline, “Give room to nature,” and nearly ever container showcased by the Netherlands-based company was filled with a plant or tree, some nearly as tall as the ceiling. Notable new products include Pure Raindrop, a sleek rain barrel that includes a spout and a watering can, just one product elho collaborated with an outside designer to create, and Allure, a collection of containers that look like stone but are lightweight and made with synthetic, recycled products. A DJ played dance music, there were living-room like seating areas with couches and other comfy furniture, and there was a small café set up with refreshments and small bites. Over at Weber, which had more than 9,500 square feet of an entire hall to itself, the company set up walls so that attendees were encouraged to follow a specific path, which included a timeline of the company’s grill innovations. In the middle of the space, which was dimly lit like a theater and had red neon lights, there was an eating area surrounded by chefs cooking up food on the company’s grills and beverage stations. Every once in a while, a promotional video for the company’s new grill, Pulse, would play, with a light show to accompany it in the main space. Emsa created a beautiful dining area within its booth at spoga+gafa, complete with a wall of plants to help separate the space.
Ideas & inspiration
spoga+gafa showcased a variety of new products throughout the trade show hallways and even in a carousel as part of its highly anticipated Boulevard of Ideas. New this year were the POS Green Solution Islands, merchandising inspiration for retailers organized by categories like Indoor Gardening and From Desert to Design.