Photo-Illustration: Studio Bertjan Pot, Better Things Studio, Sean Davidson, William Jess Laird
At Design Week, the references chosen by artists and designers, the way things are made and the ideas that are presented tell us a little about where we have been, where we are and where we are heading. . At this year’s NYCxDesign, New York’s annual furniture, interior design and architecture festival (now in its tenth year), galleries opened their doors and designers unveiled their latest projects in front of packed and enthusiastic crowds. This year’s Design Week felt like a triumphant return (considering the nearly canceled 2020 edition, which recovered organizers with self-guided tours and digital exhibits) and the solemnity of last year’s small event held, somewhat awkwardly, in November — as the city braced for a winter COVID surge. This year, a few trends have emerged: the stripped-down aesthetic of industrial manufacturing, nature-inspired patterns, and intuitive ways of working – all reflecting a strong desire to press “reset”, keep moving forward and just having fun. Although face masks and hand sanitizer were always on hand.
dutch designer Bertjan cooking pot has been weaving rope masks for a decade. The series began as a happy accident – he was trying to sew a rug, but the fabric wouldn’t lie flat, so he turned the curves into a face. Over time, the masks have become cartoonish and creature-like, and Pot is now experimenting with weaving them from natural grass and making them more deranged. “Latest releases look like masks wearing masks,” Pot writes in his artist statement. “Psychoanalyze that!” They are exhibited, together with the new luminaires from Pot, at Patrick Paris until June 30.
Photo: Joe Kramm, courtesy of R & Company
Serban Ionescu (a designer best known for his playful pieces that look like hand-drawn characters brought to life) has created new large-scale sculptures for “Castle Garden,” an exhibit at R&Company named after the first port of entry for immigration to the United States To date, Ionescu’s functional objects made from wood and powder-coated metal have been mostly on a small scale – in the form of chairs and tables . It’s fun to walk around in an immersive environment (including a 22-foot-tall folly) that looks like something out of a children’s storybook. Until August 12.
At the beginning of the 20th century, one of Dana Arbib’s relatives emigrated from Libya to Italy and ran a glass furnace in Venice. Arbib, in collaboration with expert Murano artisans, has created a series of glass vessels that pay homage to this family history. The pieces of “Vetro Alga” refer to ancient relics of Rome and North Africa. The shapes of the glassware look organic and painterly, and they almost give the impression that the material is still slightly melted. By appointment only until May 18.
Photo: Sean Davidson
Emma Scully’s ‘Anti Chairs’ exhibition brings together some of the most experimental designers working today to view furniture primarily as a conceptual object rather than a functional one: Bradley L. Bowers, who made a puffy, iridescent chair; Jumbo (the studio run by Justin Donnelly and Monling Lee), which twisted a metal barricade into a bench; and Chris Wolston, who contributed an abstract rug – his very first rug design. Ilana Harris Babou, an artist who questions the culture of design, presents collages inspired by sitting on a still warm metro seat from the previous occupant; the unsettling sensation sparked a hunt for images showing butt prints left on a chair and took her on a fascinating journey through, among other spaces, online fetish communities and furniture repair blogs. I was also mesmerized by the kaleidoscopic surfaces of the recycled plastic chairs from the gallery’s previous exhibition on British designer Jane Atfield, which were on display in the room adjacent to “Anti Chairs.” Atfield was one of the first designers to make furniture out of post-consumer plastic – specifically bottles repurposed from high-density polyethylene – when she introduced it RCP2 Chair for her Royal College of Art graduate project in 1992. The chairs have been reissued by Yemm and Hart, the visual artist she worked with in the 90s. Until July 1.
Photo: Sean Davidson/seandavidson
Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov, founders of Sight Unseen, helped launch the careers of hundreds of designers by posting stories or exhibiting their work early in their careers. For many of these designers, this publicity led to orders and orders, and they took the next step by developing their own lines with a manufacturer. Singer and Khemsurov felt they failed to help develop this part of the designers’ careers. (Plus, the makers received free talent scouting.) The two had experimented with selling vintage furniture through 1stDibsthen thought, Why not produce furniture ourselves? They partnered with Best case (a Long Island manufacturer) and some of their favorite designers on a new line of fully customizable metal homewares: an Art Deco-inspired mirror by Home studios, the architectural firm behind Elsa and The Spaniard; a wavy screen and plinth-shaped chair by Charles Constantine, the founder of Bestcase; thin frame glass tables by Swiss studio Thevoz-Choquet; and a bar cart with a resin handle by Anansi Studio. I liked how simple yet sophisticated the pieces look – refreshing to the eye after the latest wave of rowdy maximalism.
As the show’s name suggests, many of the “Melt” pieces, curated by design platform Adorno, seem to be dripping and oozing – a marker of an aesthetic indiscipline that has recently defined homewares. . The warm, organic feel of carpenter Luke Malaney’s undulating console drew me in, and I was charmed by the details of the piece: the rich reddish stain, the dimpled chisel marks on a tote that springs from the table top, the bay-shaped drawer pull and a hammered metal trimmed drawer. You can’t see many of these details from afar; it is only by using the console that we discover the different materials and textures.
Photo: William Jess Laird
I was struck by the richness of the Terra Series update from Danny Kaplan (a Brooklyn-based ceramic artist) and In Common With (a Brooklyn-based minimalist lighting maker). The two had collaborated on a series a few years ago, and these new ceramic pieces – a wall lamp, a table lamp, a floor lamp and a pendant lamp – are made in dark hues inspired by natural materials like anthracite, terracotta and lapis lazuli. The surface mount light is like an elegant ceramic vessel floating on your ceiling. The pieces are on display at Kaplan’s studio through May 20 and will be showcased at the new Brooklyn design boutique Assembly line in June.
Cuban-American designer Jocelyne Cabada has made it her mission to “smother” the world in felt, a material that appeals to her for its softness and tactility. It started out making accessories and handbags, but evolved into furniture and homewares. I was drawn to the painterly splashes of color in her stools, which are on display at “Radiator,” a showcase of emerging designers at Art Cake through May 17.
Photo: Sarah Yao-Rishea
Featured at WantedDesign’s Launch Pad, the Alcove Emerging Toronto designer Sarah Yao-Rishea’s vases are designed to make flower arranging a little less daunting. They are made up of a few dozen tubes welded together – each large enough for a single rod. I love how simple they are and how the pieces reflect two trends this year: minimalist industrialism and florals. Although these are still prototypes, I would gladly have taken one home with me if they were available for sale.
During the pandemic lockdown, Irina Flore couldn’t make it to her studio, so she started making paper collages of tableware – imagining vibrant alternatives to the monotonous cups and dishes she used every day. The Portland, Oregon-based artist liked the concept drawings so much that she decided to make them. Working with glassblowers in Istanbul, Flore created this asymmetrical color block series, which was exhibited at WantedDesign. I appreciate the playfulness of the sculptural silhouettes as well as the depth of the texture of the blown glass. They cost $350 each and are available at irinaflore.com/shop.
Photo: Courtesy of Pink Essay/Skilset
David Eardley, founder of pink essay (an online magazine), has created a unique community of emerging artists and designers through its group exhibitions: “Open workshop» (2020), « At home around you » (2021) and «Physical Education: Parallax 101(2021). He has invited artists who have previously exhibited in his exhibitions to create works for “Physical Education II: Design for All,” which celebrates an intuitive approach to making furniture and objects. It’s a philosophy that ties in with Skilset’s belief that anyone can be a designer and that you can create what you need with the materials you have. It’s a little Enzo Mari and Victor Papanek — updated with a contemporary sensibility. I admire that of Isabel Rower The sky contained my garden (a ceramic chair and side table – minimalist pieces adorned with hand-glazed surreal flowers) and Yuki Gray’s How to find the right pebble table, a CNC-machined piece of wood that, as its name suggests, refers to the designer’s obsession with finding the perfect jumping stone. Until May 20.