IMM Cologne was due to take place in the German city this January but has now been pushed back to January 2023, amidst a surge in cases of Covid-19 across Europe.
It is the second year in a row that the event has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, after the January 2021 edition of the fair was called off in November last year.
IMM success "extremely endangered"
VDM CEO Jan Kurth believes the economic success of a 2022 event is "extremely endangered", with many exhibitors and attendees likely to withdraw.
"Following consultation with numerous exhibitors, industry representatives and trading partners, there is either no question of participation on the part of German exhibitors or exhibitors from the German-speaking region, or this is very much in doubt," said Kurth.
Koelnmesse said that a successful event is "not realisable in the current situation", with other industry partners echoing the advice of the VDM.
"The current special basic conditions in the interior design industry make the practicability of IMM Cologne almost impossible," said Oliver Frese, chief operating officer for Koelnmesse.
"We didn't make this very bitter decision easy for ourselves, but consider it to be our obligation to take this step now in close consultation with the industry. In this way we provide clarity and planning security in the interests of our exhibitors."
Other events still going ahead
Coronavirus led to the cancellation or postponement of many major furniture design events across 2020 and 2021, including the Salone del Mobile in Milan, NeoCon in Chicago and Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair.
Other Koelnmesse event cancellations included the 2020 edition of biannual office furniture fair Orgatec.
IMM Cologne becomes the first event of 2022 to be affected, extending the impact into a third year.
However, it is the only Koelnmesse fair to be cancelled so far. The organiser still expects to host Orgatec Tokyo in April 2022, while garden trade fair Spoof + Gaga is scheduled to take place in Cologne in June.
"This step is restricted exclusively to IMM Cologne and its specific requirements for trade fair operations," Frese said.
Decision to cancel was "industry-specific"
"We are principally planning, as before, to carry out our spring events in 2022," Frese added.
"The political guidelines allow for this, and, following the excellent and safe course of the past autumn trade fairs, this must remain our mission in the interests of the participating industries."
Frese described said the level of concern about safety varies across industries, and that the design to cancel IMM Cologne was specific to the interiors industry.
"We have determined a heterogeneous estimation among the exhibiting companies in the face of the enduring pandemic situation in Germany," he said.
"In the interests of cooperation in a spirit of trust, we are of course communicating closely with our industries and customers, in order to be able to reach just these kinds of industry-specific decisions."
Exhibitors offered other options
As of October – the latest date that exhibitors could cancel without incurring a fee – IMM Cologne was expected to host 600 exhibitors from more than 50 countries.
Following the cancellation, Frese said exhibitors will be offered alternative options, including the opportunity to exhibit at Orgatec Tokyo or Spoga + Gafa.
"We are currently working actively on options for also still being able to offer exhibitors of IMM Cologne an attractive trade fair presence at the international level," he said.
The next edition of IMM Cologne is scheduled for 16 to 21 January 2023.
Main image is courtesy of IMM Cologne.
IMM Cologne will take place on 16 to 21 January 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.