Interview Stefan Seitz: “Wall and floor collections should definitely have a place at the ISH”


At the ISH 2013, some strong products and a wide variety of concepts for walls and floors will be represented for the first time. As part of the 'wall + floor' special show, various suppliers will, over an area of approx. 500 square metres, be showcasing products that include tiles (wall and floor tiles), innovations (plastic coverings and man-made materials), nature (e.g. cork, natural stone or marble) and colour (shades and colourways). Wall + floor will be located centrally in Hall 3.0 and will thus become the main hub for creative furnishing and decoration ideas in the bathroom. In an interview Stefan Seitz, Director Brand Management ISH, talks about the premiere if the new special show.  

Stefan Seitz has been with Messe Frankfurt since 2002, when he joined the company as an organisational specialist in the ISH team. In 2009, he assumed additional responsibility as project manager for the Texprocess and Texcare International trade fairs. A graduate in business studies, Seitz has several years of professional and managerial experience, as well as a first-class network in the fair and exhibition business. Since December 2011Seitz will be responsible for the management of the ISH brand of Messe Frankfurt. 

Photo: Stefan Seitz; Messe Frankfurt 

At the ISH 2013, a special event will be premiering in the ISH Water section. Why are you establishing the new “wall + floor” show in this segment?

Nowadays, no other room in the house is as stringently designed from top to bottom as the bathroom. That’s making bathroom planners’ job increasingly complex too. When designers, architects and bathroom planners extend their sphere of competence, we as a trade fair organiser have to come up with formats that provide scope for those developments.  

Why did you decide on wall coverings and flooring?

Tiles and flooring are both furnishing elements with strong links to the architecture – you could say they’re the natural relatives of the ceramics. These product ranges complement one another and are subject to similar cycles. But since contemporary bathroom design increasingly calls for holistic concepts in which other, lifestyle-oriented complementary ranges play a part as well, the “wall + floor” segment is also rather like a mediator between these two worlds.  

But tiles, if not other wall and floor coverings, have always been part of the presentations on show at the ISH.

Yes, of course, individual tile ranges have been shown at the ISH before, but the way they were spread throughout the fair was quite random because it depended on specific exhibitors. Up until now, there has never been any focus on this product group at the ISH. But now, with “wall + floor”, we are taking the first step towards a holistic approach to bathroom furnishings.  

You’ve earmarked around 500 m² of space for “wall + floor” and positioned it next to the “Pop up my Bathroom” trend forum. Is that a deliberate attempt to embrace the motto “good things come in small packages”?

We’re trying to provide new impulses rather than an overview of the entire market. In that respect, the show’s proximity to the trend forum is a very deliberate decision. We want to invite leading representatives from the wall covering and flooring sector to demonstrate in exemplary fashion what impact their field is having on the development of bathroom design and – by the same token – how the requirements of the sanitary industry are being reflected in the materials and design of their products. I am convinced that both sectors can benefit from having a special platform for their mutual influence and from an open discussion of that influence. When the sanitary industry’s biggest leading fair talks about bathrooms every two years, wall and floor coverings should definitely have a place in that.  

How should we picture this special show?

In “wall + floor”, we will be providing various groups of providers with a special platform that meets their special requirements. The exhibitors come from the following fields: Tiles (for both wall and floor tiles), Innovation (a broad spectrum that covers synthetic coverings and materials), Nature (e.g. cork, natural stone or marble), Wallpaper (wallpaper and fabrics) and, last but not least, Colour (for colours and colour systems). In Hall 3.0, the exhibitors will be clustered “under one roof” in a space of around 500 square metres, structured by a uniform architecture. For a flat fee, each exhibitor will receive 15 square metres of space and numerous standardised services. The approximately 16 exhibitors will be presenting numerous innovations and giving visitors a wealth of ideas for their day-to-day work.  

But the ISH isn’t about to become a specialised fair for building materials and tiles?

No, the ISH segments have evolved historically and focus on depicting developments in innovative bathroom design and sanitary technology, energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning technology and renewable energies. Nevertheless, as a leading fair, it is our job to identify and introduce new developments. With “wall + floor”, we are making an innovative contribution to the field of holistic bathroom planning and thus offering visitors an additional added value as well.  

What can ambitious tradesmen and bathroom planners look forward to?

There will be a workshop area in the inner zone of the “wall+ floor” show. In terms of content, the focus will of course be on creative topics relating to bathroom interiors, holistic bathroom planning and general design themes. Numerous speakers will be providing an insight into their work and giving visitors ideas for their day-to-day business. We’re planning more than 30 different talks – there’s something for everyone, including the consumers who come on the day the fair is open to the general public. Round tables with renowned opinion leaders from the industry will put the finishing touches to the vast array of information available to visitors. But the trend installations presented in “Pop up my Bathroom” will also serve as a topic for workshops on various aspects of current bathroom trends. The lecture forum is being developed in collaboration with the German Sanitary Industry Association (Vereinigung Deutsche Sanitärwirtschaft e.V. / VDS).