Imm Cologne is one of the most famous and influential furniture fairs in the world. The annual event showcases the latest and greatest designs from top brands and emerging talents in the furniture industry. This year, we were blown away by the artful and innovative shelf and storage designs on display. From sculptural masterpieces to space-saving solutions, these were some of our favorite finds that stood out from the crowds.

1. The Wave Shelf by Luca Nichetto

This undulating wood shelf makes a statement with its fluid, wave-like form. Designed for Italian brand Cassina, the shelf features staggered heights that allow for displaying accessories and objects of different sizes. The walnut finish gives it a natural yet refined look. This would make a striking focal point in any room.

2. The Tetra Shelving System by Martin Ballendat

With an architectural, geometric design, this modular shelving system offers endless configurations. Consisting of tetrahedron-shaped shelves and connecting rods, it can be assembled in straight lines or angled formations to fit the space. The mix of metal and wood gives an interesting interplay of materials. A great versatile and customizable storage option.

3. Etagere La Scala by Matteo Cibic

Drawing inspiration from Italian opera theater La Scala, this etagere shelf features a tiered silhouette like stacked balconies. Crafted from painted steel, the rounded shelves and splayed legs give it a sculptural, almost whimsical look. Vibrant colors add a playful pop. Makes an eye-catching display piece.

4. Shelf X by Studiopepe for Brass Brothers

This shelf features two X-shaped units joined together, one brass and one black metal. The contrasting materials and crisscrossing design give it a contemporary edge. Its asymmetric form allows for stylish storage possibilities, with different size shelves and compartments. A statement piece with function.

5. The Ladder Shelf by Stephanie Ng Design

This wooden ladder-inspired shelf makes efficient use of vertical space. With a slender silhouette and five rungs for displaying objects, it takes advantage of awkward narrow areas. We love the simple form and natural, unvarnished look of the wood. Elevates a utilitarian piece into an art object.

6. Fold Shelf by Ambivalenz

Creasing and folding sheet metal creates the origami-like form of this artful steel shelf. The crisp lines and slight metallic sheen give it a sleek, contemporary style. With two tiers connected by a single vertical piece, it’s also quite sturdy. Makes a sculptural yet functional accent.

7. Clam Cabinet by Studio Gorm for Matteo

At first glance, this looks like an ordinary wooden cabinet. But opening the doors reveals an interior of curved compartments resembling a giant clam shell. The unusual storage shape adds visual interest, while still offering practical space to tuck away clutter. A great conversation piece.

8. Beam Sideboard by Earnest Studio

This sideboard has an innovative cantilevered design, with the top surface jutting out like an elevated beam. Made from solid oak with slim yet strong legs, it looks light yet sturdy. The floating silhouette gives it an airy, sculptural look. An artful way to add storage without visual bulk.

9. Fold Shelf by Ambivalenz

Creasing and folding sheet metal creates the origami-like form of this artful steel shelf. The crisp lines and slight metallic sheen give it a sleek, contemporary style. With two tiers connected by a single vertical piece, it’s also quite sturdy. Makes a sculptural yet functional accent.

Imm Cologne once again proved itself to be a platform for showcasing groundbreaking designs. These shelves and storage solutions impressed us with their aesthetic appeal while still serving practical functionality. Combining artistic expression and utility in one object is the mark of skillful, thoughtful design. We can’t wait to see what innovation the event unveils next year.

Frequently Asked Questions about Artful Shelves and Storage Designs from Imm Cologne

What types of materials are used to create artful shelves and storage?

Designers utilize a wide range of materials to craft eye-catching and functional shelves and storage, including wood, metal, glass, plastic, and engineered stone. At Imm Cologne 2023, there were innovative designs in materials like bent steel, layered wood, and colored plastic.

What design elements make a shelf or storage piece artful?

Elements like sculptural shapes, unusual configurations, mixed media, bold colors, and asymmetry can all make a shelf more artistic and unique. Many of the shelves at Imm Cologne played with angled, curved, or geometric forms for visual interest.

How does artful design also improve functionality in shelves and storage?

The best designs fuse artistry with functionality. Artful shelves may use elevated shapes or sturdy cantilevers to increase storage capacity. Unique compartments keep items organized. Adjustable, modular, and customizable units work for many spaces.

What are some ways to incorporate artful shelves and storage into your home?

Use sculptural shelves as artistic focal points in rooms. Choose colorful storage to contrast with neutral decor. Install wall-mounted shelving to save floor space in tight areas. Float corner shelves to maximize awkward angled space. Mix materials for eclectic, personalized style.

How do you properly style and display items on artful shelves?

Consider scale and balance when styling shelves. Oversize items can overwhelm smaller shelves. Cluster grouped objects forimpact. Use risers and staggered heights to add dimension. Incorporate accent lighting or decor behind transparent shelves. Rotate seasonal accessories for fresh looks.

What functional concerns should you keep in mind when choosing artful storage?

Assess your needs like how much space or capacity you require. Check shelf weight limits if displaying heavier items. Make sure assembly is straightforward for modular designs. Choose materials like wood over metal if concerned about noise. Opt for enclosed storage for dust-prone objects.

Should artful shelves be cleaned or cared for differently than traditional furnishings?

Read any specific care instructions from the manufacturer, especially for more delicate materials like glass. Use soft cloths and gentle cleaners to avoid scratching shelves. Dust light colored woods frequently to prevent buildup. Test any cleaning products on inconspicuous areas first.

How can you add artful elements to traditional or basic shelf designs?

Mix finishes like wood with metal for contrast. Install creative lighting like LED strips or shelves. Refinish or paint basic designs in bold, bright colors. Adhere wallpaper, tiles, or other materials to shelves for visual impact. Style shelves with colorful bookends, trays, or other accents.

Where are good places to view or purchase artful and innovative shelf designs?

Furniture fairs like Imm Cologne and Salone del Mobile showcase the latest shelf designs. Museum stores often carry unique shelving inspired by their collections. Online retailers like Eurway and Houzz have a range of modern options. Local craft fairs can offer one-of-a-kind artisanal shelves.


Imm Cologne’s display of artful and functional shelf and storage designs demonstrates how form and utility can beautifully intersect. These innovative creations prove that even humble household items like shelves can transcend their practical purpose to become works of art. With visual appeal, smart customization, and improved organization, they show the power of fusing aesthetic vision with problem-solving design. Whether you’re looking to make a statement or maximize your space, these artful shelves offer inspired ways to elevate both your home decor and storage needs.