At this year’s re-envisioned imm cologne, the speakers for our Architonic Live Talks provided inspiration, exclusive anecdotes and a healthy dose of humor. We round up what you may have missed and explain how ChatGPT played a role.

‘June is full of shows, so we wanted to plan ours differently.’ Dick Spierenburg, Creative Director of imm cologne, explains the fair’s new format and concepts



Spring is a time for rebirth, for the shedding of old skin and fresh beginnings. Anyone who has spent the last few months hopping across the globe for in-person fairs can testify to the fact that this seasonal renewal trend did not skip the architecture and design industry. Loaded with post-pandemic energy and a desire to catch up on all that’s been missed due to Covid-19, organisers, attendees and exhibitors were adamant to mix things up in 2023.


Koelnmesse was no exception. Not only did the organizers of imm cologne defy expectations by pushing the fair to a spring slot from 4 to 7 June, they also saw an opportunity to finally implement format changes that they had been contemplating well before the world shut down for the larger part of three years.

architonic live talks at imm cologne 2023: AI unexpected outcomes & anecdotes
imm cologne’s central Pure Galleries were transformed into an open work of art in which leading brand manufacturers showcase their products, visions and identities in compact, minimalist spaces. Photos: © Koelnmesse / imm cologne



One of the biggest came in the form of a revamped Pure Galleries space. With furnishings in a new exhibition format that emphasised minimalism and a return to the essentials, the updated iteration of imm cologne’s most long-standing format prioritised compact spaces with open visual lines and a focus on product design. ‘Viewing can take place from different perspectives and the experience becomes more multi-faceted as a result,’ says Dick Spierenburg, Creative Director of imm Spring Edition.


Further inspiration was presented at The Circle, centrally located at the heart of Pure Galleries. Serving as a new networking hub for trade visitors with a bar and lounge area, it was the beating heart of the action at the trade fair. There was no better place to introduce yet another innovative fixture of this year’s programme: our very own Architonic Live Talks. 

architonic live talks at imm cologne 2023: AI unexpected outcomes & anecdotes


architonic live talks at imm cologne 2023: AI unexpected outcomes & anecdotes
It’s all in the details: architected sound’s wall treatments (top) are just a few of the physical products visitors were able to once again experience in person. Photos: © Koelnmesse / imm cologne



At the dedicated Speaker’s Corner, Architonic Editor-in-Chief Simon Keane-Cowell came together with not one, but six brilliant minds of contemporary architecture and design for candid conversations that covered everything from the newly commissioned Orient Express to how AI will influence design processes going forward. Each time, ChatGPT provided an unlikely starting point – Simon had asked the AI tool to come up with biographies for the speakers, with a few surprising results…


Missed the exclusive releases on our Architonic Instagram? Fear not. The full conversations are available below so you can catch up directly and return at your leisure.



First off: prolific German product designer Sebastian Herkner. Despite only being able to dedicate about 20% of his time to sketching these days, Herkner finds other ways to keep his creativity flourishing. Watch the full video to find out what they are, hear him discuss the commercial challenges of someone at the top of their game and how ‘The bell table in the end was just luck.’



Next up: Patrick Reymond of the Swiss collective Atelier Oï, who advertised reduction as the guiding principle of their design approach. ‘Often, to do design is to do nothing,’ he claims. In the full video, learn how they get things done regardless and discover their focus on craftsmanship and following ‘material truth.’



For his third conversation, Simon sat down with French architect Maxime D’Angeac. His next big project: a complete redesign of the legendary Orient Express. In order to fulfill the ambitious timeline and high expectations, ‘I need to be a dreamer and a piece of steel,’ D’Angeac explains. Watch the conversation to hear him discuss the details of his vision and if Paris is a good place for the industry right now.



Simon’s penultimate dialogue partners came as a set: Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider of Studio KASCHKASCH shared candid insights into their teamwork and explained why ‘you have to be everywhere as a design studio.’ In the video, find out about their particular creative approach, the trials of marketing and who’s the grumpy one in their partnership.



Last, but not least was the imitable Dara Huang. Despite not starting ‘a design business to make money,’ the London-based architect has had her fair share of success and gave Architonic an exclusive insight into her entrepreneurship. Watch the full video to discover Huang’s recipe for building a creative business and how she – nevertheless – sucks at operations.



Guest Feature by Claire Brodka / Architonic