2011 looks likely to be a year when intelligent home appliances become the norm and our lives, and kitchens, become increasingly intertwined with the smart grid. At the same time emerging designers are beginning to re-imagine the role of everyday objects in our lives and functionality of design is becoming increasingly important.

44th International CES
January 6-9
Las Vegas Convention Center/Las Vegas Hilton
Las Vegas, America

One of the biggest consumer electronics events of the year CES, which has been running since 1967, is often used as a launching pad for the latest consumer gadgets. With the smart grid and connected home appliances becoming an increasingly common phrase eyes will be turning towards International CES 2011 where the big names in the smart appliance industry are planning to showcase their latest  intelligent, energy saving appliances. The event attracts over 126,600 visitors each year and is one of the most important dates on technology enthusiasts' calendars.

28th IMM Cologne
January 18-23
International Expocentre Fairground
Germany, Cologne

A showcase of household designs for the following year, IMM Cologne 2011 features a specialized section dedicated to young, emerging designers, attracts exhibitors from around the world and is billed as the "central meeting place for exhibitors and designers."Last year's event attracted 100,000 visitors from 120 countries. A number of designers at this year's event are exploring how we can re-design our futures and give householders more flexibility in interior design. The Living Kitchen exhibition, which showcases the latest in kitchen product design and hosts a number of kitchen related and cooking shows, will run concurrently to the event.

32nd Maison & Objet

January 21-25
Villepinte Exhibition Centre
France, Paris

The bi-annual luxury trade show returns to Paris in January. Unlike trade shows such as Ambiente which is centered on consumer related household designs, Maison & Objet focuses on high-end home furnishings and edgy design. Maison & Objet attracted over 85,000 visitors in September 2010  overshadowing Spain's interior design exhibition Hogar Primavera (January 21-24) and the Formex exhibition of Nordic-inspired interior design in Sweden (January 20-23).  

11th Christmas World

January 28 - February 1
Messe Frankfurt Trade center
Germany, Frankfurt

Shortly after Christmas 2010 has finished exhibitors will be unveiling the trends and products for Christmas 2011 at this trade show organized by Messe Frankfurt. The event is expected to be one of the biggest trade shows of its kind in 2011. The previous event in 2010 attracted approximately 976 international exhibitors and 30,000 guests.

62nd Nuremberg Toy Fair
February 3-8
Speilwarenmesse Exhibition Centre
Nuremberg, Germany

Widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading toy industry trade shows. Last year's event attracted around 76,000 visitors from 104 countries. The Nuremberg Toy Fair gives industry professionals and consumers insights into the trends of the following Christmas as well as hosting a number of seminars on the international toy industry. In terms of both visitor numbers and industry stature the event is far bigger than the Toy Fair (January 25-27) in the United Kingdom.

21st Ambiente

February 11-15
Messe Frankfurt Trade center
Frankfurt, Germany

This large trade fair in Germany combines three separate sectors -dining, giving and living. Within each section exhibitors will display current and future household design products. This year the trade show is also holding the 'International Design Competition' to award consumer goods which combine functionality with aesthetics, last year's event attracted over 132,000 visitors, 46% of which were from outside of Germany. Though equally as important as Maison & Objet for example Ambiente focuses more on products with a mass appeal and applicable everyday functionality, in that respect the trade show is similar to Grand Designs Live (April 30- May 8) or Tendence (August 26-30 ). 

108th Toy Fair 2011
February, 13- 16
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
United States, New York

One of the largest annual toy fairs the ' Toy Fair' attracts over 1,000 exhibitors, 25,000 attendees, and is home to around 7,000 new product launches each year. The event is also home to the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards,  billed as the 'Oscars of the toy industry', these awards honor the most outstanding new products in twelve categories and crown one the overall 'toy of the year'. Though the event attracts less visitors  than the Nuremberg event, the Toy Fair New York, where Barbie first appeared, is widely respected and the TOTY awards are generally recognized as the industry standard.

7th Grand Designs Live
April 30 - May 8
Excel London
United Kingdom, London

This UK based home design exhibition combines practical with more cutting edge design. The products on display here are more applicable to the mass market than the rather elitist and edgy designs at Maison & Objet for example. The event is smaller than Ambiente, attracting only 47,000 visitors in 2010, and is aimed squarely at those looking for designs that serve a functional role in an average household rather than those looking for unique or "statement" pieces.

23rd International Contemporary Furniture Fair
May 14-17
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
United States, New York

Billed as a "global summit for design" the International Contemporary Furniture Fair or ICFF attracts exhibitors from 40 countries and around 23,000 attendees. Designs in the field of furniture, seating, flooring, outdoor furniture and lighting and other categories are represented at the show. The ICFF represents a much broader spectrum of household design than the Australian International Furniture fair (February 2-4), but in turn is overshadowed by home design events such as Tendence (August 26-30).

26th Hong Kong Houseware Fair
April 20-23
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Hong Kong

For trade professionals only the annual Hong Kong Houseware Fair attracts around 2,000 exhibitors and 25,000 buyers from the home design and appliance industries. This year's event features three themed zones, high-end designers at the 'Hall of Elegance', kitchen and tableware accessories in 'Fine Dining' and the ASEAN Select - a pavilion dedicated to exhibitors from geo-political organization the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Hong Kong International Home Textiles Fair will be running concurrent to this event.

8th Pulse - London
June, 5-7
Earls Court
United Kingdom, London

Billed as the place "where smart retailers go to get ahead," Pulse London is often the first place to see the latest products before they hit Europe's high streets. This year's event is divided into five sections: home, gift, fashion and jewelry, bath and body, and "launchpad." The organizers claim that over 500 products in the areas of interior design, gifts and stationery will be launched at this event. The event is product rather than trend orientated and in that respect is similar to the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

15th Tendence
August 26-30
Messe Frankfurt Trade center
Germany, Frankfurt

A huge range of consumer goods from a large number of international suppliers is exhibited at this yearly trade show which attracts around 57,000 people. In 2011 the trade show will be divided into two main categories, "living" and "giving"; these categories are then divided into further sub-sections. Some of the main themes at Tendence 2010 were "functional furniture," "products with personality" and "Gemütlichkeit," a German term meaning to feel good and have a good time.

51st IFA
September 2-7
Messe Berlin GmbH exhibition center
Germany, Berlin

One of the world's biggest consumer electronics trade shows, IFA attracted 1,423 exhibitors and 235,000 visitors in 2010, generating 3.5 billion euros worth of orders. The event serves as a launch pad for many new innovative consumer appliances: among the products launched at last year's event were touchscreen, remote controlled induction hotplates from Caso, the intelligent CAFFEO CI coffee maker by American firm Melitta, and Windoro, the world's first automated window cleaner by Ilshim Global Co.

33rd Maison & Objet

September 9-13
Villepinte Exhibition Centre
France, Paris

The bi-annual luxury trade show returns to Paris in September. Unlike trade shows such as Ambiente, which is centered on mass consumer appeal and functionality as well as aesthetics, the edgy designs at Maison & Objet are aimed more towards the high-end of the home furnishings scale. Last year's event  attracted a  total of  over 85,000 visitors from around the globe.