3 Questions to: Patty Willems (elho)

elho is a flourishing, family-owned company with over 50 years of experience in making synthetic pottery and related products. Surprise and fun are important aspects for their functional and creative products. Patty Willems is PR & CR manager.

Patty, how important is urban gardening for the elho collection?
Willems: Very important! elho introduced a total new collection around the urban way of living: The loft range, with the urban look & feel, is an enormous success thanks to the growing fan base that intensely enjoys city life and loves fund and leisure while the built in water reservoir ensures beautiful healthy plants that don’t require continual watering. You can sit back and enjoy “the urban way of life”.

Which colours do you promote this seasons?
Willems: Our new colours in the 2015 collection are:

  • Sweet softs like candy pink
  • New yellow: ochre
  • Natural browns like grainy sand
  • New pastels: light bleu and stone grey
  • Changing to soft greens; lime green

What are your most ingenious products for this summer?
Willems: We introduced our 2015 collection in September 2014 at the spoga+gafa. Our new collection will be shown on the next fair in August. At this moment we are working hard to present a great 2016 collection with lots of innovations to surprise our customers. The toppers of the 2015 collection are:

  • Green basics growtable XXL
  • B.for soft air
  • Pure cone serie
  • Balcony innovations like the Corsica easy hanger and loft flowerbridge

 Further information: elho.com

3 Questions to: Bettina Ulrich (brainLight)

Walking around the spoga+gafa can be quite exhausting. So many things to see and so little time. One way to relax your feet on the trade fair grounds is to have a seat at one of the snack stops and cafés, but if you wanted a real relaxing experience, the brainLight stand offered something very special. Bettina Ulrich, brainLight’s head of sales, introduced visitors to some impressive massage chairs and answered some questions for us.

What is the latest model in your range of massage chairs and what are its functions?
The current state of the art in massage chair technology is the brainLight relaxTower with Shiatsu Massage chair 3D FLOAT PLUS. Unlike other massage chairs this one not only works out your back but your hands, feet and legs are involved as well. It has 10 fully automated massage programs and 3 half-automated programs. It comes with special visualization glasses that send out soothing light pulses and together with guided relaxations over the headphones it turns into a full experience for body and mind.

Who are the target audiences for your massage chairs?
The Shiatsu massage chair and the relaxTower are mainly geared towards commercial use. They can be used in hotels, shopping centres, spa-areas, gyms, everywhere, where people can use some quick relaxation. Coin slots are optional in our systems. Of course relaxation at the workplace is a growing topic nowadays, so businesses are also ordering our chairs for their relaxation rooms.

What can you tell me about your company, brainLight?
Our company is in business for 26 successful years now. We not only produce relaxation systems, we also give seminars and information events about relaxation. Our philosophy is it to increase global consciousness, understanding, love and compassion.

Further Information: brainlight.com

3 Questions to: Jan Scannell (“Jan Braai” – National Braai Day of South Africa)

In South Africa, Jan Scannell is better known as Jan Braai, for he is the founder of the “National Braai Day” initiative. Braai is the South African and Namibian way of barbecuing and Scannell wants to establish “Braai Day” on September 24th as a national holiday, where all people unite around the grillfire.

Visitors of the spoga+gafa 2014 will have the chance to see Jan Braai in action: A Braai demonstration starts on Monday, September 1st at 11:30 a.m. in the Grill Park between halls 5.1 and 6 in the BIAG Lounge of the Barbecue Industry Association Grill e.V.

Mr. Scannell, why is it so important for you to introduce a national Braai-Day in South Africa?
Scannell: Braai is the South African word for ‘barbecue’ or ‘grillen’. It’s a very popular past-time in South Africa and one of the few activities that all South Africans like to partake in. This is a country with a rich and diverse heritage but one common heritage, which is to unite around fires. It’s an age old custom from the beginning of time. The National Braai Day initiative aims to unite all South Africans around fires on 24 September every year. This is a nation building initiative, aimed at social cohesion and creating a national day of celebration. 20 years ago Nelson Mandela started a process to unite a nation divided in the past, and the National Braai Day initiative aims to further continue that work by getting all South Africans to sit around fires together that one day per year. In 2014 National Braai Day will be celebrated for the 10th time and an estimated 15 – 20 million people took part in celebrations in 2013.

What are the main differences between a South African Braai and a European grillfest or BBQ?
Scannell: We use real wood fires, braai larger cuts of meat (as opposed to just sausages) and the sun shines in South Africa!

This is your first time at the spoga+gafa garden trade fair. We heard that you are going to produce a film here; can you tell us something about this project?
Scannell: The concept of the television show is about travelling to interesting places in Africa and around the world, exploring the local customs and heritage and then lighting a fire and having a braai. So whilst in Cologne we will naturally visit the spoga+gafa and also look at stuff like the history of Kölnisch Wasser, the Dome of Cologne (which is a world heritage site) and obviously we will go to the banks of the river Rhine and have a braai!

Further Information: braai.com and biag.org

3 Questions to: Kai Schaede (CasaKaiensis)

The houses from Meike Wachholz and Kai Schaede look just like out of a fantasy film or a fairy tale. The two craftsmen are from Herford in Germany and make wooden houses for gardens since 2010. There is no catalogue for these custom-made constructions. Every single house is a unique craft and is individually planned with the customer.

Mr. Schaede, your houses seem to be all twisted and askew, why is that?
: They not only seem to be askew, they are! But only in moderation. You shouldn’t take it too far, because there is only a slim line between art and kitsch.

Of course it is the unusual appearance of the houses that stands out. There are associations to fairy tales or fantasy films. But that has never been my intention. Such images are more of a distraction than an inspiration. Most of my inspiration comes when I am right at the spot of the future house. There are so many details that only work when they are fitted to the surroundings, lots of small things that you can’t imagine while planning it out in the office.

The interiors are also quite interesting. The angular walls offer much more usable space than straight walls, without diminishing the base area with cupboards or shelves, those are integrated into the walls.

We are trying to create a space that lets the people grow instead of wither, where you can spend your time in a healthy way. A space where calmness can unfold.

Is it more difficult to build a “crooked” house compared to the normal, rectangular style?

Schaede: Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? For a normal house you need two angles: 90 degrees and 45 degrees. That’s enough to create all the parts for construction. Our houses are different and there is much more calculating. It is especially difficult when the roof is twisted around itself. But after a while all this puzzling becomes a routine. So, for me it’s easy! Technical problems that arise can always be solved. It is much harder to create unique aesthetics.

Who are your customers and what ideas and requests do they have?
Schaede: Usually the authorities are women, who drag their husbands with them. At first they don’t have specifics other than wanting a CasaKaiensis in their garden.

Then we have a look at the site and by speaking with the customers we can develop a concept for the house. Usually I will show some sketches to the customers and together we work something out. Sometimes I realize really weird ideas of the customers for example a folding roof that can open up when the owner is sitting in the loft and wants to enjoy the view over his garden.

If it is a larger house I am constructing I have an architect at hand who creates a detailed construction drawing. Of course there are certain construction rules that I have to meet, but the building control authorities have fortunately no influence over how I bring my houses to life. If they would only allow the things that they already know, then how would the world of CasaKaiensis look like?

Further Information: casakaiensis.de

3 Questions to: Ben van Ooijen (The Gardens of Appeltern)

Every year, from March to November, the Gardens of Appeltern (“De Tuinen van Appeltern”) in the Netherlands open their gate to present over 200 model gardens. Visitors can experience very different gardens from tiny balconies to designer garden, they learn a lot about plants and the feel of materials. Even accessories and latest furniture trends are on display. The Dutch landscaper Ben van Ooijen founded this park of ideas more than two decades ago.

Mr. van Ooijen, how did the idea for the Gardens of Appeltern came about?
van Ooijen
: Over 25 years ago I was thinking about how I could explain my gardening ideas to my customers so that they can see my designs. This is why I installed flower beds, paths, a lake, a dry wall, and other garden elements next to our own house. These first model gardens have by now grown into over 200 gardens on 23 hectares. Of course I didn’t design all those areas by myself: The best landscape artists and garden architects from the Netherlands come here to present their latest designs and visions. There is always something new to see. Ideas are being developed, materials being tested, and plantings tried out – simply to create beautiful gardens.

What kinds of people visit your gardens?
van Ooijen
: Every year the Gardens of Appeltern welcome about 100.000 visitors. We are a very important place for students and nursery men in training as well as for landscapers and designers. Of course, Appeltern is also a place for garden enthusiasts and people interested in plants who just want to relax and get inspired. Most of our visitors are from the Netherlands, but the amount of people from other countries is rising constantly. 

What is the difference between the Gardens of Appeltern and a normal garden show?
van Ooijen
: The usual garden show is made only for a short period of time, whereas some of our inspirational  gardens have existed for decades. In this period of time lots of changes and developments happened and of course nurture and care by garden experts. There are gardens for the most different target groups. In Appeltern you will find the largest assortment of garden plants in the Netherlands as well as the national collection of perennials. The perennial garden itself has a surface of over 10.000 square metres and is divided into model patches with thousands of varieties. You can enjoy almost the whole garden year over here – from early spring to late autumn. Just bring enough time  and enjoy and experience our gardens! There are lots of ideas to take home.

On September 3rd, 2014, the spoga+gafa organizes a trip to the Gardens of Appeltern for visitors of the fair from Cologne.

Further Information: appeltern.nl