materials.cologne: Interview with Martin Beeh
3 May 2021
Designer and materials expert Martin Beeh initiated materials.cologne and acts as its project manager. The conference is a forum for a creative exchange between architects, designers and other pioneering creators. It is a partner of interzum @home and, like the trade fair, will be hosted as a digital-only event this year. We spoke with Martin Beeh about the interactive platform’s formats and its focus topics.
Martin Beeh, what is the idea behind the materials.cologne conference?
It’s already four years since the launch of materials.cologne. I started it with two cooperation partners, the business development agency for the City of Cologne, KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH, and the Cologne Chamber of Commerce and Industry. interzum has been the conference’s partner right from the start. It is a cross-industry platform for designers, architects, interior architects, company decision makers, researchers, scientists and everyone else who is involved in shaping the future. It is always about design, materials and innovation.
What will be the focus topics for the conference this year?
Our focus topic for 2021 is materials and sustainability. The aim is to share knowledge, venture into new territory and connect people and organisations. Because of the pandemic, we are currently focusing on digital formats, but we are looking to establish them in the long term as well. With its programme, the speakers’ complementary fields of work and their recommendations, this year’s materials.cologne is almost the perfect demonstration of the directions in which the furniture industry and its suppliers could evolve. It will provide plenty of material for lively discussions in the live chat and on the video channel.
On 5 and 6 May you are hosting digital masterclasses that explore the conference themes in greater depth. What added benefits do they offer interzum @home attendees?
Our masterclasses allow participants to make direct contact with the speakers on Zoom, to discuss working examples, solve problems together and expand their networks. The masterclasses are deep dives on the conference’s short talk formats with an emphasis on continuing professional development. And as someone who has experienced our speakers in action in quite a few Zoom meetings and seminars, I can say that a direct exchange is highly enjoyable. It is an intellectual pleasure for subject-matter experts and the best kind of continuing professional development. What’s more, we have applied to the Chamber of Architects for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia for the conference to be recognised as CPD for architects and interior architects.
What new opportunities do you see for the online platform interzum @home in terms of reach and opening up new target groups, but also in the context of the general expansion of digital formats?
During the pandemic, digital-only platforms are undoubtedly the ideal solution. They offer a host of great interactive tools and opportunities. Digitalisation makes interaction between people possible across continents and time zones. That is a great bonus. You avoid high travel expenses, and it’s effective and inexpensive. Platforms like these will definitely be able to find other geographical or market niches by developing tailored formats, whether they are purely digital or hybrid. It is this kind of diversity that makes a leading international trade fair like interzum.
You can find more information on the programme and the themes for this year’s materials.cologne on the website of interzum @home .