Since ancient times people congregated in squares to trade and exchange goods, find out the news, scoop the latest gossip and keep up with the world. With time, markets moved indoors and the practice became somewhat singular, but some trade is still done at fairs, albeit much less, and there is no better time to check it up than in spring.
With the onset of spring, the restless decorative mind tends to home in on matters related to houses and garden. And as the days grow longer, so does one’s imagination. No surprise then to find two seminal trade fairs in Switzerland that focus on dwelling indoors and out, with a wide spectrum ranging from furniture, furbishing, fixtures, amenities, appliances, building and decorative materials, energy options, all the way to knick-knacks, tchotchkes and downright dust collectors. The first of these fairs was the Habitat et Jardin, the home and garden fair, held in Lausanne March 10–18. The second, the Giardina, was devoted to gardens and green spaces, and took place in Zurich March 14–18.
Romandie goes shopping
Habitat et Jardin, now in its 31st edition, is remarkably all-inclusive. Over 500 exhibitors were present this year – a reminder, perhaps, that housing and construction is still one of the industries turning a bit of profit. They offered solutions in areas like real estate financing, renovation, construction materials, interior design, furniture, kitchens and bathrooms, lighting, wellness facilities, garden and landscape projects. Along with the traditional exhibits, the organisers, lead by Christophe Leyvraz, came up with new additions to this year’s programme such as the Focus Energy platform. As energy has always been a serious concern to homeowners while oil and gas are constantly under the threat of shortage and rising costs, Habitat et Jardin partnered with Ecobuilding, a Swiss non-profit organisation, to offer a unique consulting service on fostering energy-efficient households. Visitors were invited to ask questions directly from the experts (and free of charge) about how to better insulate their homes or switch efficiently to renewable energies.
For four days in March, the 28,000 m2 of the exhibition halls on Wallisellenstrasse 49 in Zurich were transformed into a blossoming paradise. Modern garden furniture and accessories, myriad flowers and plant creations from masterful florists put up a bold show of colours, shapes and flavours whilst setting new trends in outdoor design. This year, the 295 exhibitors coming from seven countries were challenged to re-think the outdoor space as the optimal individual retreat under the motto: “Live your garden.” At its origins, Giardina debuted in Basel in 1997 as a sideline to the Muba fair, but as the interest in outdoor design grew, in 2002 the parent company MCH Group decided it could go its way alone. That was in 2002. Now the garden fair is in its 14th edition and has chosen Zurich as its base.
The heart of the event was Giardina Style, the most challenging category under which exhibitors file their most intricate and trend-setting garden and lifestyle ideas to compete for the right to display it on a 1:1 scale. Only the most outstanding concepts are chosen. This section should be the first station on everyone’s meanderings. It’s a paradise of colours and sweet flavours that can match any of Tim Burton’s Oscar winning movie settings. And speaking of colours, this year’s Giardina featured a palette dominated by the bright and the bold ranging from fresh shades right through to gaudy tones – a welcome move after years of stylish elegance and harmoniously matched nuances.
SOPA, Wikileaks and Anonymous have been fuelling the rhetoric on privacy issues online for a while now. The right to disappear is intrinsic to our nature and it is also the prevailing trend at this year’s Giardina event. One might find it difficult to hide one’s presence online but this should not be the case in one’s garden. The question of raising a boundary between you and whoever is on the other side of the fence is rather one of elegance and functionality. Good fences, after all, make good neighbours, even if those lines came from a notoriously craggy neo-Vermonter. Privacy screens in all shapes and tones were displayed in many of the 30 sample gardens in the fair’s Style section. The light, slightly transparent screen design seemed to dominate, although the climbing plants appeared to do the job very well, too, and with a natural aesthetic that puts any artificial panelling in the shade.
The floristic exuberance of the Style section was balanced by the highly practical Market space, where hands are shaken over herb markers, fountain covers, high-tech lawn mowers and other garden accessories and equipment. The latest trends are reflected in sophisticated planting concepts that go beyond sun exposure or humidity to tackle the chemical composition of the soil and the ways you can adjust it. Whether eclectic or casual, all tastes are covered and for the undecided, there are always some flowers to take home. This spring there is no time for lazy gardening. The sun is up and time has come to redesign your outdoor space but remember to take advice only from the best.
If you own a house and wish to improve its energy efficiency, than Ecobuilding is a good start. The goal of the organisation is to provide homeowners with a comprehensive solution to make their houses energy efficient by partnering with an array of players: from architects and engineering firms to contractors and energy experts. The procedure is quite simple: first you sign in for a check-up of your house (EB First) after which you can proceed to the energy efficiency renovation project. For more information go to www.ecobuilding.ch
Twiggy and earth mother
The re-creation of an alley of cypresses and a Tuscan garden by Switzerland’s Horticultural Association provided a great deal of inspiration about what a garden could, or even should, look like. Those old enough to remember the 1970s – which preceded the notoriously style-less 1980s – had a chance to travel down memory lane at the VIA-Paris “Prisunic and design” exhibition of cult objects from the 1960s and the 1970s. VIA, a French organisation promoting innovation and creativity in the home environment brought the exhibition at the invitation of the Habitat et Jardin fair. “Prisunic and design” was originally put together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first shopping catalogue launched in April 1968 by the department store chain Prisunic. The catalogue is considered a pioneer project for the mass marketing of furniture as customers were able to order pieces by mail at affordable prices. From street advertising to the beginning of IKEA, “Prisunic and design” exhibited original pieces from museums and private collections as well as accessories and rare store posters all related to the 1960s and the 1970s.
Berger Gartenbau’s “The Enchanted Forest” (“Zauberwald”), one of the gold finalists in this year’s Show Gardens category, is one such case where walking a fine line between modern artifice and ancient naturalness exemplified by textile cushions on rough stone sofas proved to be a winning formula.
In the “Floristry & Design” category, Olivia Hoffmann’s winning f loral designs were all about colour contrast between fresh leaves and dried trunks and ultimately between life and death – a statement that is at the core of the plants business. Other winners in the Special Presentations category were Wängi with “Time to live” (“Zeit zum Leben”), Unterengstringen with “Line profiles and their effect in the room” (“Linienverläufe und ihre Wirkung im Raum”) and Muzzano with “The Secret Garden” whilst Spross Ga-La-Bau AG together with Ott Lumentec AG are the winners in the Giardina Style section.
Article by Rodica Miron