For those who love cooking, dining and hosting, going to the Ambiente trade fair is very much like entering an Aladdin's cave. There are halls and halls, 11 to be exact, with slightly more than 4,800 exhibitors from 94 countries showing off their newest products for the table, kitchen and home, as well as gifts, decorative items, interior design concepts and furnishing accessories. There are even two halls dedicated solely to cookware.
The international trade fair is held annually in February in Frankfurt, with some 135,000 buyers from 152 countries, visiting this year over a period of five days.
Because of its strong presence in Europe, most visitors tend to be from the continent. Above average increases were also noted in the number of visitors from the Middle East and Asia, especially from the world's most populous consumer-goods markets, China and India. Renate Moller, CEO of tableware brand Scholtissek says: "There was an incredibly broad spectrum of countries represented by the visitors to our stand. Hence, we were able to do lots of business with foreign customers."
The fair is strictly for trade buyers, and items will make their way to the consumer market in the later months of the year. Here's what we hope to see on our shelves.
Drawing and doodling on paper placemats are so last year. German brand Kahla's new range of porcelain, called Notes, allows kids and adults to write or draw on plates, cups and storage jars, using coloured pencils. Just wipe off to erase and start again.
Environmentally friendly tableware will continue to be big this year, judging from the number of exhibitors who have released their respective ranges. And why not, since they are better alternatives to plastic, melamine and disposable tableware. The Eco Line range from German brand Zassenhaus is made from renewable bamboo fibres and corn starch. While most eco-friendly tableware tend to come in dull colours, these colourful ones will make them a hit with both kids and adults.
Birdie String Nest
Cute tea infusers are a dime a dozen, but who can resist another one? QDO, a Danish company, has come up with Birdie String Nest. To use, put tea in the birdie and lower the bird into hot water. When the tea is ready, lift the lip off the cup, flip the lid so it becomes a drip tray and set it down on the table. Easy peasy.
Designers Jihyun Ryou, who hails from Korea and David Artuffo, from Italy, explore how to keep food fresh without relying on the refrigerator. They've come up with #Fresh, a perforated dish that sits over a bowl of water. The fruit placed on the table receives moisture, helping it last longer. The concept was inspired by old farmer's wisdom to keep fruits fresh before they are sold. The fruit bowl is in its prototype stage, but the designers hope to find a manufacturer soon.
Remember how as children, we would fold origami boxes to store little things in them? German designers Angelina Erhorn and Stine Paeper were inspired by origami when they created their line of porcelain tableware.
The range consists of bowls, plates and cups. To create each piece, the paper bowls are covered in plaster to create a mould for the porcelain. The final product in ceramic retains the appearance of the folded paper structure.
Cake Boss Bakeware
Fans of Buddy Valastro, star of the reality TV series, Cake Boss, take note. The Italian baker, through kitchenware brand Meyer, has a range of bakeware under the Cake Boss label. There are the usual cake and muffins pans, icing and fondant accessories as well as cake carriers, mixing bowls, and baking tools. You know, you could be the next Cake Boss.
Fallen Leaf Tray
Eating off a banana leaf is no big deal in Singapore. In Korea, they have something similar, thanks to designer Kim Hyunjoo. Ms Kim found inspiration from autumn leaves when she created the Fallen Leaf Tray. The trays are made of Hanji, a type of Korean traditional paper, while the veins of the leaf are formed using aluminium structures. The flexible wire structure allows the trays to be shaped into plates and bowls. Each tray is coated with a special Shellac varnish which renders them food-safe.
KitchenAid cook processor
KitchenAid's new gadget looks set to win new fans, particularly the ones who already have its stand mixer.
The Artisan Cook Processor can do an endless list of tasks, such as chop, crush, mince, blend, mix, whip, emulsify, knead, steam, boil, stew, and fry.
It even comes with an app packed with recipes - all that is needed is to just throw in the ingredients and press the buttons. Now anyone can be a chef.
German bakeware brand Kaiser makes baking fun and easy, even for young bakers. New items from its Creativ range include mini-doughnut trays, cake pop pans to bake dough balls, and also a CroRing, to make cronuts.
Its new piping tool comes with its own container, which makes filling the cream less of a mess.
Who says that pots and pans have to be round? Silit's Quadro cookware series is square-shaped.
The new square-shaped variant also offers optimal surface usage on the hob. Whether ceramic or flex zone induction hobs, the contents in the pot will fill all four corners. The square-shaped pots also have a higher capacity than their round counterparts.