I recently returned from visiting Frankfurt as part of Modenus Blog Tour. Here’s my recap of our visit and whirl wind tour of Frankfurt and the surrounding areas, plus the Ambiente show. I’ll be posting my favorite products from the show and talking trends next week.
I’m a biased New Yorker at heart, no hiding that. I really liked Frankfurt and I’ve visited more than a few European cities I’m comparing it to. There are different types of cities that have an appeal to different types of travelers. Frankfurt is perfect for a city traveler with moderate experience. For instance, if Paris and New York are not your cup of tea because it’s just too big and too much going on, start with Frankfurt. I found the city easy to get around with the subway and well priced cabs, not to mention very walkable. All the streets were clearly signed and if you get lost, most everyone speaks English. This is a big deal if you’re lost in a foreign country! I’ve been lost in the country side in Canada and couldn’t find a soul that spoke english! It’s pretty amazing to visit Europe and see how truly international the cities are, Frankfurt included. Another bonus, the flight from NYC was direct and went by really fast. You ever have a 4 hour flight and it seems like it lasts for-ever? This was a seven or eight hour flight and it zipped by.
The food? Don’t worry, how could I leave out the food? German food is amazing, and boy do they ever know how to do a kraut without it tasting too vinegary. Some local favorites were the apple wine. This is similar to American hard cider, but a little more bitter and ‘watered down’ tasting. I don’t say watered down in a negative way, just that it has a much higher water to apple ratio than a very dense hard cider might. It’s very apparent when you taste it. At first, I wasn’t crazy about it, but then it started to grow on me and I realized I did like it! The cabbage mastery and pork pounding skill of the Germans will have me in awe for years to come. There is this really interesting cheese dish that you can only share with people you love cause it has raw onions. 🙂 It’s cheese, and a vinegar type flavor and raw onions chopped on top. I have no idea how it’s made but I couldn’t stop eating it and have never had anything like it. If you’re not the most adventurous eater, or traveling with a picky eater, Frankfurt is really approachable. If you are the culinary elite, don’t worry, you’ll find mastery in the simplest of dishes and you’ll have a deep appreciation for German cuisine.
While we were in Frankfurt for the Ambiente show, I was curious what else there was to do in Frankfurt. The draw of trade shows are patricianly the city they are held in. After you have trade show burn out, what can you entertain yourself with and make a mini vacation out of your travels? I tagged along with Robin when she visited the Stadel Museum and was really impressed. We always hear about these amazing destination museums in Europe, add this to your list. First, the building was an attraction in itself, and the collection was well curated and very fluid. We also visited Museum of Applied Arts designed by Richard Meier and saw a beautifully curated collection of decorative arts, and some very interesting German design as well. They had all sorts of items from the Bauhaus (!!!) and even contemporary German design. The building is really beautiful and fun to photograph because of its clean lines.
If it had not been for my shopping buddy Margot, I would have missed the amazingness of Manufactum. HOLY COW. Get on a plane now and go to this store! I was in total la-la land with the well curated everyday items. I mean who doesn’t need the perfect enamel ware bread pan? Exactly. They sold everything a traditional general story would sell, from gardening supplies and furniture to kitchen supplies, and clothing and shoes. The lighting was pretty amazing too. If you do nothing in Frankfurt but attend Ambiente and visit Manufactum, you won Frankfurt.
Ambiente is a global trade show that covers many different lifestyle categories, including but not limited to furniture, table top, cook wear and small appliances and home accessories ranging from linens to gadgets. The show breaks these products that we use everyday, in three categories: dining, giving and living for a total of 4,749 exhibitors and 143,789 visitors. The scale is out of this world and the facility hall the show is held in, is like a city itself.
I kept hearing everyone describe how ‘big’ the trade show was. Mean while, I’ve attended all the trade shows in NYC that span over multiple buildings, and I’m thinking, ok, how big is ‘big’. When Germans say big, they really mean it. This was by far, the largest, most mind-blowing trade show I’ve ever seen. Most of the trade shows I’ve been to in the past either section it up into different shows or the show only focuses on luxury, small company design, and not larger manufacturing. This show did it all and divided it up expertly, so you only look at what you really want to see. Another aspect of the show I really liked, is they had created a culture and brand that you become familiar with. You could take different tours, with topics like upcoming trends, or see the gallery where new talent was displayed, plus the iPhone app to find your way around was really helpful.
I was also impressed with the global scale. At U.S. trade shows, I became accustom to seeing the same companies, and at Ambiente, I saw a whole new world of eye candy I’ve not seen before. Wonderful, established brands that were just not everywhere in America. It honestly makes me want to drop what I’m doing and design a retail store. I really enjoyed seeing new designers and innovation, along side classic items that stand the test of time. If you are a buyer, this is ‘the’ show to attend.
Overall my trip to Frankfurt renewed by love and excitement about design. I had been shopping for our house and seeing a lot of the same-old-same-old. So I was a bit disenfranchised with what I was seeing, but after attending Ambiente, I realize I have to dig deeper. Cause there is too much great design out there to look at. For my next post I’ll share some awesome eye candy where I’ll talk trends and share some of my favorite products.
I had the pleasure of spending time with these fabulous bloggers. Stop by their sites to see what they had to say about Ambiente. And a big shout out to Veronika and team from Modenus for herding us bloggers all over Frankfurt. It takes a patient person to move a big group through a city – and just think – we didn’t loose anyone!
Carmen from The Decorating Diva
Ronique from Stagetecture
Denise from Denise McGaha
Courtney from Courtney Price
Tamara from Nest, Nest, Nest
Julia from Material Girls
Jennifer from Jennifer Mehditash
Lisa from Lisa Mende Design
Kerrie from Kerrie Kelly
Robin from Urban Gardens
Jeffrey from Jeffrey Design
Paola from Mirror Mirror