Ambiente in Frankfurt is arguably the largest professional trade show devoted to the home trade–i.e. just about anything that is not paint or a major appliance–within the home. Some seven miles of aisles criss-cross eleven buildings in the sprawling grounds and thousands of visitors (official count about 133,000) crowd around over a five day period.
It’s an Euro-centric show. In other words the looks, colors, styles, and assortments are distinctively European. It appears European offerings get the best booth locations as well with firms that have no presence in the U.S. having gigantic stands and some of the best-known U.S. firms with smaller, more rationally sized booths from which they work.
Almost every European firm is offering something “environmentally” friendly in their line. White interiors, whether of ceramic or traditionally non-stick were everywhere. Whether these will translate to the U.S. and whether they can resist staining over time are key questions. Then there are the typical oddball sorts of things that seem never to exit style in European just as surely as they have never leaped the Atlantic. Here’ s few examples:
- Cookware with detachable handles which also may nest. Europeans live in small places with little storage. They think Americans mad for having 25 cubic foot ‘fridges, and they likely shop almost everyday in Europe for food (which incidently is maddeningly expensive compared to the U.S. prices). This may be why you don’t see many obese Europeans and why a soft drink there is usually ten ounces.
- Almost no “gadgets”. Europeans cook with knives. Really good knives and most are made in France and Germany. With the exception of a whisk and a can opener, most European kitchens are bothered by the array of gadgets many U.S. kitchens have. Besides, where would they store them?
- Trollies to go shopping with. Europe typically shops on foot. Canvas bags mounted on wheels are a hot seller perennially. The only market in the U.S. for such items is South Florida.
- Outdoor laundry driers. Most U.S. subdivision have covenants against hanging out laundry to dry in the sun. Europeans are amazed to find this to be the case. So long as the sun shines, they hang out to dry.
- Decorative home items that were…well let’s just say pornographic and let it go at that. Sculpture that would probably get you arrested in the U.S. if you exhibited it in public was on display while oblivious children (yes they let kids into the show and dogs too) waltzed by.