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“The importance of haptics is growing”: interview with Katrin de Louw

13 Feb 2017

Piazza Materials & Nature

© Trendfilter

Katrin de Louw’s consultancy Trendfilter® examines social developments that are influencing our lives, amongst other trends. The acclaimed trend expert is designing two special event areas on the theme of Materials & Nature at the forthcoming interzum 2017. We spoke to her about the increasing importance of materiality and the influence mega trends have on our furnishings.

Katrin de Louw, what influence do social developments have on furniture design and our interior design?

The overall social framework influences our need for furnishings, our desires, how we behave and hence what we consume. The mega trends predicted by futurologists vary in terms of the fresh impetus that they could give our industry. We analyse these trends in workshops and examine what could ultimately be relevant for our industry. Sometimes this is very complex and involves diverse factors, but there also very clear and simple examples that I can use as explanations: for instance, globalisation is inspiring furnishings with culturally diverse influences. Demographic changes are leading consumers to focus more on health, amongst many other issues.

What role does materiality play in current interior design trends?

Materiality is becoming more and more important in very different aspects. Materials sourcing and production, high quality standards, long life cycles and recycling are crucial issues because consumer awareness is constantly increasing, and they want to know what’s inside. The weight of materials is playing a growing role in online shipping, as well as handling and easy-to-fit furniture components. Store design on the other hand requires emotional materials and surfaces that “fit” their story and entice shoppers to linger inside.


“Individuality” is the slogan you’ve chosen to design two special areas at interzum 2017 based on the theme Materials & Nature. Which groundbreaking innovations are you seeing in materials and surfaces?

The importance of haptics is growing because it’s one of the senses that cannot yet be activated by the internet. Then there are a number of additional functions extending all the way to smart surfaces, which materials could provide in the future. Our slogan, “Individuality”, can, of course, be achieved through order-based production, such as digital printing. But we also believe that the individual materials mix alone can make a considerable difference. In the Materials & Nature Piazza at interzum from 16 to 19 May 2017, we will present many new product ideas from material manufacturers on all these issues.

How do you rate trade fairs like interzum as business platforms and sources of inspiration?

They’re very important. We research our trends online as well, and in collaboration with other agencies, in workshops or other media. But trade fairs offer incredible potential: they’re an opportunity to gather a lot of inspiration in a very short time, to experience many products “for real” and touch them. And every offline meeting and conversation, like those you can have at trade fairs, are useful for collaborations and new ideas.

Katrin de Louw

Katrin de Louw