Image courtesy of Interzum
Dr. Sasha Peters, Haute Innovation, with students in his material innovations exhibit at Orgatec.

Cologne’s Interzum Materials Fair to Explore “Neo-ecology” in May

March 28, 2023
This year’s show will feature a curated space by Dr. Sasha Peters, owner of Haute Innovation in Berlin.
Every other May, furniture and interior designers and architects looking for the latest in design and functionality gather at the industy’s largest global materials fair: Interzum, held at the Koelnmesse fairgrounds in Cologne, Germany.
Interzum offers a look at the latest in the following furniture materials categories:
Materials and Nature: woods, stones, metals, laminates, acoustic treatments and decorative panels
Function and Components: lighting, decorative and functional hardware
Textile and Machinery: mattresses and textiles
The show organizers anticipate that this year’s event will host 1,400 exhibitors from 60 countries, down a bit from the last full event in 2019.
“Covid supply chain challenges, an energy crisis and the war in Ukraine have impacted some of our exhibitors,” said Interzum director Maik Fischer.
“On the visitor side, we’re expecting about 60,000 visitors from 150 countries, and if the trend from other recent Cologne fairs holds, even though the numbers are a bit down, they are higher quality visitors, the decision makers.”
The show will feature a new hall, allowing organizers to better group segment exhibitors closer together for a more efficient visit for attendees. Educational opportunities will also be expanding with more presentations, exhibits and discussions in each of the three segments (see above).
Materials and Nature will feature a curated space by one of the world’s best-known materials experts, Dr. Sasha Peters, owner of Haute Innovation in Berlin. The theme is “Sustainability Matters: Trendforum Materials & Nature – Innovations for the age of Neo-ecology,” focusing on the transformation of our economy towards a more circular one. “New Aspects in Mattress Recycling” will be the trend focus in Textiles and Machinery, and “Furniture in Change - Shifting Boundaries” is the topic in the Function and Components segment.
Neo-ecology focuses on efforts to reformulate the old solutions to environmental challenges beyond a rhetoric of sacrifice and “doom and gloom.” This should allow us to arrive at a cultural evolution of making sustainability a lifestyle driver and part of our societal DNA (rather than an optional and inconvenient accessory). One of the main boulevards at Interzum will have installations exploring neo-ecological solutions.
According to Haute Innovation, neo-ecology is the most important megatrend of the next decade, representing a shift in values throughout society towards a circular consumption logic in harmony with the mechanisms of nature. Some examples lie in materials based on natural resins, fibreboards made from fast-growing plants and algae or leather alternatives from fruit residues. Above all, the realization of the use of CO2 as a resource in panel and textile production will lead to the development of new production methods.
“A global race is on to find the best ideas for developing recyclable materials. Manufacturers who want to remain competitive in the future must show how their products fit into the concept of the circular economy,” said Peters.
“We’re not afraid to look at every detail when it comes to transitioning from a linear to a circular economy,” Fischer said. “We want to challenge people to go home after Interzum and rethink what they are doing right now, armed with new ideas on how to think about sustainability.”
Interzum will be held May 9-12, 2023. Attendance can also be virtual and “on demand” with “interzum@home,” starting May 17.
About the Author

Kenn Busch | Contributing Editor

Kenn Busch is a longtime journalist, educator and public speaker dedicated to bridging the knowledge gap between materials, sustainability, and furniture and interior architecture. He is the founder of and, two major resources for design and manufacturer specifiers. 

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