In total 36,800 trade visitors from 116 countries attended this year's spoga+gafa in Cologne. “spoga+gafa has confirmed its standing as the international garden trade fair again this year,” explained Katharina C. Hamma, chief operating officer of the Koelnmesse. “We were able to welcome more visitors from more countries here at the location in Cologne and are thus totally satisfied particularly when one considers that the garden and leisure industry got off to a rather slow start this year.” A total of 1817 companies presented their latest products, themes and trends and the international share of exhibitors was 82% this year.
This year’s spoga+gafa presented everything that makes outdoor living more attractive, better and more comfortable. The Garden Furniture sector, comprising around 700 exhibitors, offered the largest selection of exhibits. In terms of material, the spectrum ranged from bamboo to concrete, through to outdoor-compatible leather. Teak also made a comeback as a result of the sustainable and vintage trends. The optical improvements and the development in the haptics of the fabrics in the garden furniture area were also impressive.
Against the background of the growing demand for exhibitions in the garden furniture sector and in order to further exploit the synergies between the related segments, the ‘High-end Garden Furniture’ relocated to the larger Hall 10.2 this year. The ‘garden unique’ exhibition zone also impressed both exhibitors and visitors with its exclusive, design-oriented and high-quality appearance at its location in a new hall. The accompanying young designer competition, which was organised as a prototype contest for the first time ever in 2013, also attracted plenty of attention. In total 62 projects from 24 nations addressed the competition’s theme ‘Outdoor Living’.
However, in the end there could be only one ‘unique youngstar 2013’. The international panel of expert judges awarded first place to the creative folding boat ‘Ar Vag’ by Thibault Penven (Switzerland). The prize voted by the public was also awarded during the ‘unique hour’. Countless interested visitors took advantage of the opportunity to co-select the winner via online voting: 533 votes were received on the campaign homepage for the 15 nominated projects on the theme of ‘Outdoor Living’ – the ultra-light, portable grill “Stakes” by Roee Magdassi (Israel) received the most votes.
The Decoration sector also registered a positive development and an increase in the number of exhibitors. The Halls 9 and 10.1 convinced with a broad array of exhibits including countless novelties and a colourful variety. Since, similar to the garden furniture sector, in terms of decoration the theme ‘Colour Clash’ was extremely noticeable and will be visible on the terrace, balcony and in the garden in the coming season. Also en vogue are brightly patterned cushions, vases, crockery and textiles, because hitherto classic indoor accessories are being increasingly used outdoors, bringing elegance and modernity out into the green.
The presence of numerous market leaders, the high quality of the products exhibited in the exhibition halls and the diversified supporting programme aroused great interest among the visitors – accordingly the mood in the exhibition halls was very positive. “We had the pleasure of welcoming many important international and satisfied industry and trade purchasers,” was a frequently heard comment at the exhibitor stands. This statement was also confirmed by the trade fair poll. 75% of the visitors questioned are involved in the procurement decisions and in fact, 47% are decisive for the decision-making process.
The German Garden Industry Association (IVG), honorary sponsor of the gafa, assessed this year’s spoga+gafa as follows: “Particularly considering the fact that the season got off to a late start, we are satisfied with spoga+gafa 2013. Our member companies reported that their stands were well-attended and that they had held constructive discussions. Especially the high number of visitors from Eastern Europe was viewed positively. Overall, after spoga+gafa 2013 we are optimistic about the coming season,” summed up Hans-Jürgen Riehl, Chairman of the gafa Advisory Board adding that “the premiere of the IVG Garden Party was also a huge success and worked well as a platform for an industry get-together, this event will be repeated in the future.”