Last week was the designer's week to howl. ICFF (International Contemporary Furnishing Fair) is a big happening in New York. Seems like designers and architects from around the nation converge on the city to celebrate design. That's a good thing. If Fashion has its day in the sun why not design! Showrooms, boutiques and stores gussy up and scramble to get a piece of the pie. Parties everywhere and every day. In years past, I reveled in the party scene…today I rejoice when I don't have to go.
ICFF kicks off with a pretentious reception at MOMA. Like birds in a breeding frenzy, everyone claims their own spot in the Sculpture Garden… has highly intellectual conversions and feel as though they have drunk from the grail. It was also opening night for a tiny designer event drummed up by a group of young Turks: Twenty designers were invited to decorate a Munny Doll….including me. (Do you know what a Munny Doll is? I didn't, but my 10-year-old granddaughter did!) It was well hyped (unless you hadn't hear about it) and a very noisy kickoff party 9 PM - 2 AM, given in a subterranean corner of the hip Ace Hotel. I graciously begged out but saw the show at an earlier time. The “kids” involved worked diligently with enormous energy and creatively to make a mountain out of a molehill. All the dolls were sold on E-Bay and hopefully covered their expenses.
Munny from Front
Munny from Back
As I ducked out off all (safe one) off-premises events, I can only report on ICFF. I did attend; Ralph Pucci's must see and be seen party in his spectacular gallery at 44 West 18 Street. A mob scene with sparkling water and cheap white wine…but a must on everyone's agenda. My furniture was relegated to a serene exhibit on the 9th floor….(last year was my turn in the Penthouse). If you haven't seen my limited edition Fiberglas chairs and four sculptures, (commissioned by Ralph), I urge you to do so.
The show has shrunk exponentially from its heyday, when it took up three large halls. Today they couldn't fill the Main hall. But that is a sign of our times. The economy, my friends, is still in the gutter no matter what slogans Washington dreams up.
The content of the show felt at times, like a Bed & Bath Show, with many major plumbing suppliers taking up huge space. The national exhibits like Spain's probably rescued the entrepreneurs of the show, taking up a huge portion of real estate… (Though Italy was conspicuously missing).
Erica and I tootled around on rented electric vehicles. We were a menace…playing doge-ems between the crowd.
What is always really fun is to discover are the small 5' x 10' off-the-main-street exhibits by artisans for whom this show is a window to the world.
My old friend, Jacob Marks was there with a fresh collection of handmade furniture and some cute saddle leather covered stools and cleverly carved cork bowls.
SKRAM Stool and Cork Bowls
We enjoyed meeting a 'ballsie” cabinet maker, Tim Byrne, from the hinterlands of Connecticut and originally from Ireland, who came up with a series of spectacular tables built from salvaged industrial machinery with working gears, tilts and other paraphernalia…. beautiful wood tops and very pricey. (If he sold one…he was home free.)
Probably the furthest away exhibitors came from Latvia. They brought with them some very funky furniture….liberated “Bombay chests” carved bookcases and some outrageous interiors executed for the superrich oligarchy of Russia. If they were fishing for those client's at ICFF, the pickings would be rather slim.
A group of adorable young artisans from San Salvador had a refreshing exhibit of their work: functional, colorful and minimalist chairs, tables and lamps.
LED lighting was much in evidence…but little original appeared on the scene. Chris Pohlmann came up with a 10' tall version of his aluminum branch lights (I commissioned one for our Nantucket house several years ago) this one was quite spectacular.
Of the veteran exhibitors at the show, Richard Shultz introduced a refreshing collection of laser-cut steel furniture in bright yellow and red….
Even I had my foot in the door with the reintroduction of my 1958 CAPRICORN COLLECTION of wire furniture, at the Oasiq exhibit. (Their new, architecturally exciting, showroom is in a five story converted townhouse located at 242 East 58 Street in New York.)
Vladimir with Wendle Castle in Oasiq Booth
Bicycles were a big thing at the show this year…hand made, folding, outrageous and sexy designs appeared in a number of exhibits.
The Furniture Society, which consists of some of America's greatest cabinetmakers, always showcases fine hand made furniture.
There were, as usual, the uninspired wannabes. And frankly, there were no Tsunamis of spectacular design breakthroughs. Still, the show is always refreshing, if not new….and worthy of your attention.
Erica and I are always suckers for the buy it “here and now exhibits” offering irresistible takeaway objects such as ceramics and wood gadgets…I managed to avoid them assiduously, but our daughter Jessica kept up the family tradition and bought!
See ya next year!