New York Design Week was a whirlwind of design adventure, one highlight was the neon post-modern utopia of Sight Unseen OFFSITE! Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer of the website Sight Unseen also co-founded this show in conjunction with NYCxDesign and ICFF. It enchantingly combined the works of independent design studios alongside those from established, forward-thinking brands, creating a small but well curated venue for industry professionals and design enthusiasts.
Housed throughout two floors and six rooms of the modern industrial building of 200 Lafayette, we gazed upon vibrant, edgy, fresh, and highly relevant innovations that inspired thought and ingenuity through high voltage colors and decadent sprawls of geometric patterns.
We bee-lined to AMMA Studio's booth in the corner of the first floor; instantly captivated by their mix of calm colors and natural elements of rock salt and cement. -Not to mention the sculpted mirror (below), a striking beauty that only comes from the sea and the hands of creative voyagers.
Amma Studio states that sculpture and furniture have a symbiotic relationship — both have a long history of re-contextualizing form and function while expanding on ingenuity and design. Materials have always been at the center of this ingenuity; wood, metal, plastic, stone, and marble have been pushed to their absolute limits of creativity and utility. AMMA Studio is re-contextualizing form and function once again, only this time, with materials that are not in the traditional canon. Rock salt, sand, coffee, silica, and pink himalayan salt are hardly thought of as materials for furniture, but with a unique casting process that also fuses more traditional materials such as cement or plaster, AMMA creates a body of work unlike anything before. We're into it.
Next were our friends at Calico Wallpaper. We were drawn to their new collection, particularly the Aurora Neon piece, described "like Shibuya after dark, Neon is dazzling and even a bit overwhelming to some". Not overwhelming to us, and much like the color scheme in our Vibrant Noe Valley remodel, colors such as these are a nod to the dense humid world markets filled with baskets of spices, fruits and fabric dyes meant to be seen and used in our homes.
After coveting the collection of Kelly Behun studio from a distance and deeming them our 'Design Crush' of April, it was a pleasant surprise to see the work of Kelly Behun and Alex P White's eccentric collection in person. Both primal and modern, their studio's collection encourages the dweller to adorn their home with native and high-art pieces that play a double role as highly functional furniture!
PRINT ALL OVER ME stopped us in our tracks. And although I would consider myself a functional online troll, I had never clicked on anything that would lead me to their website. Their booth, (if you will) was like stepping into the actual screen of an online web-store marketplace for club kids. The colors and patterns oozed out of each corner, creating an explosion of seating, clothing, patterns, pendants lamps, and wall coverings. PRINT ALL OVER ME is a collaborative community and a space for collecting. Their motto: to invite the web user to create, share, own, and produce their own designs by uploading individuals digital art onto well made and well-fitting pieces of fabric to share with other users, digital designers and shoppers alike.
Baby's All Right is a great name for a bar, but USA-OK might be right there. USA-Ok is a team of two All-American guys from Chicago who proudly manufactures right here in the states — but there's more! Founded by longtime friends and collaborators Ray Doeksen and Mike Dreebe, their eclectic background of industrial design, engineering, sculpture, and serving as a Captain in the United States Army give them the sensibility, function and color-blocking techniques that come from an eclectic background. Their brake-formed aluminum Star-Base is the core of the USA-OK Industries, acting as a multifunctional piece for various furniture. With it they achieved an economical, exceptionally strong, lightweight chair with uncompromising comfort. And weighing in at a modest ten pounds, the USA-OK chair knocks down for cost- effective shipment and can be assembled easily by the end-user.
With blooming Cacti going off all over the desert of Joshua Tree in California, the delightful CHIAOZZA booth of exotic paper mache plants was like a plant shop haven! The collaborative studio was founded in 2012 by the absolutely adorable team of Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza. Terri is trained in architecture, and Adam in fine arts. Together, Brooklyn-based CHIAOZZA is a common ground for design experimentation bridging these disciplines. The pair also share an interdisciplinary art practice together, working across drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and other media; and have a guest room, A Cabin in a Loft in Brooklyn, dedicated to providing inspiring and affordable lodging for a global creative community.
Ladies and Gentleman Studio, founded by Dylan Davis & Jean Lee in 2010 is a Seattle-based multidisciplinary studio with thoughtful design. Their approach yields an evolving set of ideas and experiments that translate into playful and diverse set of products from tiny quirky objects, jewelry, furniture, and lighting. We took to the enchanting nature of their 'Shape Cluster' lights (above) and how it plays off their unique knowledge in jewelry and furniture making.
Sally England has single-handedly revived the folk art of macramé. It's no wonder that she comes from a family of "knotters". But make no mistake that her craftsmanship is more of an art-form rather that a craft. Her booth centered itself around the title 'Black and Gold' and her pieces lent themselves to touches of bling and modernism with exquisite minimalism. Driven by her reverence for the craft process along with the intimacy of using her hands as a tool, Sally's macramé work brings new regard to an age-old technique steeped in nostalgia and fresh enough to compete within the sparkling high-end world of interior design.
With the ethos “own less and own well,” designer Farrah Sit focuses on creating strikingly simple objects that speak to their intended purpose. After spending years in the fashion industry, designing the tabletop collection for Calvin Klein, as well as luxury home decor collections for Vera Wang and Kim Seybert she realized she needed to get her hands dirty again and return to the heart of the design process. With everything from metal welding to hand carving wood and forging her own flatware, she found her niche. Teaming up with local artisans and manufacturers, Sit producing everything carefully and precisely at home in New York.
With the foundation of working, studying and showcasing his work in the diverse regions such as Columbia, New York, Hawaii, Maine and South Korea, Chris Wolsten's work is a mix of contemporary art and functional design. His recent terra-cotta furniture pieces are functional domestic objects, made of clay from an industrial brick factory. His interest in taking a material found in nearly every home — be it the roof tiles, the kitchenware, or the brick walls themselves — in a way that makes people think twice about the space they live in and the materials at play.
Paige Loczi and Founder of Avoavo, Brit Kleinman hit it off instantly at Sight Unseen OFFSITE! It may have been the California vibe, but more so the reaction to Avoavo's leather-smith work that has transcended into the modern world with its clean and vivid geometric lines pressed and dyed onto beautiful scrapes of soft cowhide. Hailing from Los Angeles and an esteemed background in high-end hand bags, Brit takes an anthropologic approach to design, studying how objects that surround us reflect the culture in which we live. From travels around the world to daily adventures, she gathers inspiration from the ingenious ways people find different solutions to similar problems in her creation of painted rugs, and strong canvas carrying bags.
Keeping the love on the West Coast, Eric Trine's and his capsule of Neon, metal and leather weavings are just a few characteristics of his booth. Named Sight Unseen Magazine's American Design Hot List in 2013, he simply considers himself an object based studio artist and designer, or more simply — a maker of things. He designs by making, rather than drawing and works on projects that vary from small scale design/build for commercial clients, to furniture, to sculpture, and decorative objects for the home. Goooo team, California!
BOWER is like a pretty little baby looking back at you in your reflection. Their mirrors, tables, and other modernly delightful objects make up their growing portfolio of works that have placed them in the publications like the New York Times, Wallpaper Magazine, and Design Milk. Danny Giannella and Tammer Hijazi co-founded Bower Studios in 2013; combining fine woodworking with playful experimentation, they create pieces that look to the future with a nod to the past. Their aim is to bring new life and character into objects people interact with everyday. They feel their designs are successful when they are simple, functional, beautiful, and make people smile.
Lastly, but certainly nothing other than brilliant are the works of Pablo Alabau. He debuted a series featuring several furniture pieces entitled ‘grupo metafisico’. Born in Valencia Spain and moving to New York in 2012 to work on his craft, Pablo's multipurpose pieces are made from white stained birch plywood and graphite. The bone-like, yet ethereal pieces remind one of the coastal lines of the Mediterranean.