Comeback of the good old times

They have been there again for several years: the old furniture classics from the Bauhaus, from Eileen Gray or Ray Eames. And not only at antique markets or on vintage exchange portals, but - often with a new look and technically upgraded - at imm cologne in the trusted company of modern design and high-end innovations. A special emphasis was placed on the mid-century style in 2016 and on the furniture design of the 1920s. More and more companies are letting the spirit of the euphoric mood that prevailed after the two World Wars breeze through their design studios and are creating a new style retro look.

What is the source of this fascination with “modern” classics? Is it simply a growing desire for quality that has brought more and more enthusiasts to favour objects which unite a seemingly conservative love of detail with a design statement that was often revolutionary in its time? Is it the good feeling that quality stands the test of time and trends? Are there certain designs that lead us to believe in the existence of some timeless absolute?

Given how ubiquitous “throwaway” consumerism has become, furniture can be intriguing for its solidity and its historicity. Here, a longing for simplicity meets a fascination with the original. What counts is the original concept, not the original materialisation. The concept stands for a particular era as well as for timelessness. This furniture – the originals in their time and the re-editions in the present – is also an expression of individuality.

“The ongoing trend towards re-editions owes its intensity to the fact that both elements are present in these objects simultaneously: the expression of individuality and the commitment to a cultural tradition”, says Dick Spierenburg, Creative Director of imm cologne, “and these elements constitute the source of motivation for collectors of design and art.”

In fact, the first people to liberate design from a banal context and view it from a different perspective were the collectors of designer furniture, from nearly forgotten Bauhaus stools to cantilever chairs and from flea market finds to eBay purchases. Often “true” classics, not unlike art, are not about providing perfect functionality, but about reflecting an individual way of looking at life or some manner of experimentation. This is consistent with the growing desire, shared by many, for the improvised, for the imperfect, for authentic materials and individual designs. Perhaps one of the next imm cologne events will feature not only the classical re-editions, but also alternative editions of classics – as an assembly kit for DIY fans, for example. When it comes to the furniture of yesterday, who knows what the future will hold?