From the Mundane to the Ho Hum
with some refreshing sparks of creativity
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, May 27, 2013
The Jacob Javits Center opened in New York in 1986 two years before the first ICFF show was held there
ICFF is a far cry from its origin twenty-five years ago when it was a fresh vibrant showcase for new talent. Today it is primarily a real estate venture to sell as much floor space as possible. To that degree, it was a huge success… As a showcase for Contemporary Furniture it was somewhat of a failure.
Huge chunks of floor space were devoted to bathroom plumbing. Bathtubs, (that normal people can’t possibly fit into), a plethora of shower heads in all shapes and sizes with spigots and faucets all looking alike. LSD lighting, some experimenting with a new Know-how and a few outstanding examples of where the technology is going.The show included a feeble smattering of International exhibitors displayed in space leased by the sponsoring countries with predictable examples of home furnishings. And finally there were a few High Point manufacturers with slick exhibits, wanting to break into the designer market. The usual exhibits of student’s work from the various design schools around the country was missing. (They were farmed out to an off-premise location... The rentable space was too tempting to waste on freebees.)
My take on the show: 80% mundane - 20% fun and worthwhile
The fun stuff was mostly exhibits in raw unadorned spaces, with their creators much in evidence, expounding their wares. That portion of the show was well worth the price of admission.
my opinionated review of the show
There were items that I considered inventive, others well done, some imaginative and finally products that were just fun … in this category, the word “practical” was not a prime criterion.
These are my two favorites - “Vladimir’s Choice for Best in Show”
An LED lighting system designed by Peter Stathis for Trapeze: a very creative company based in San Francisco. On display was an assemblage of esthetic table and wall lamps in my favorite color: orange. These lights function without traditional wiring… every component snaps together… each segment is the conductors of the electricity. The lighting disc is paper-thin and throws off an amazing amount of lumens. (I couldn’t resist buying one.)
Peter Stathis explaining the wonder of the new LED technology
The Parabola Chair designed by Carlo Aiello from Los Angeles is a remarkable achievement, working with straight metal rods to create a sensuous curve… The Parabola chair is available in powder-coated steel and stainless.
My friends Elin Lake-Ewald and Jonathan Block testing the comfort of the Parabola Chair
Both of my winning designs originated in California… there must be something about the Pacific air!
The next item that caught my eye was a novel clock, an import from Germany. The QLOCKTWO tells time in words. It is available in tabletop, wall mounted and new, as a wristwatch, all in a cornucopia of yummy colors.
Colin Selig from San Francisco is owner of Think-Tank. He came up with an original idea for recycling discarded propane tanks; he cuts them up into funky seating for indoor and outdoor use… cheers to Colin!
A very cool way to recycle discarded propane tanks
I always like seeing good woodwork executed by skilled cabinetmakers, (not the earth shaking stuff), just well made and intelligently designed furniture.
My friend Mark Jacob, who owns SKRAM Furniture, is a splendid craftsman, working in North Carolina. He has a nice edgy quality to his designs; clean, minimal and with an eye to comfort. This easy chair is typical of his work.
Two very simple triangulated wood pedestals make a perfect underpinning for this glass-topped coffee table. (I am ashamed to say that I did not write down the maker’s name… if someone knows him, I will add it to the Blog)
triangles form the underpinning for a coffee table
I was impressed by this delicately executed classic console table by Ryan Meacham, a young Irish cabinetmaker who studied at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine and is showing with The Furniture Society, a membership organization that promotes excellence in furniture craftsmanship.
Bending plywood is a technology not many cabinetmakers posses. It’s a niche like woodturning; Kino Guérin from Quebec Canada has mastered the art and is doing creative furniture, making it look simple... It is not… Kino is an expert at it.
Kino Guérin's pretzel furniture looks playful but is a highly technical
Boat building certainly is a niche market. Normally you would not find an exquisitely made Kayak in a furniture show… But at ICFF expect the unexpected. Nick Schade, hiding somewhere in England is ready to take your order for a custom canoe or boat of your choice. Bespoke Global, a gallery located on Green Street in New York, represents him.
This sensuous boat caught my eye - Nick Schade is an amazing craftsman - I'd want to keep this kayak in my living room!
A beautiful and comfortable Wing Chair with a practical high seat and upright back is ideal for reading. Designed by Jaime Hayón for “Republic of Fritz Hansen” heir to the iconic furniture maker in Denmark.
Jaime Hayón caught the spirit of Fritz Hansen in this handsome wing chair
To my utter surprise, I found my 50’s Capricorn Sofa and coffee table on display in the OASIQ exhibit… OASIQ is the licensee for my outdoor furniture collection. Their showroom is on 58th Street in New York. (It gave us a pleasant place to squat and review the show.)
I was pleased with the imaginative poster they created using my Chaise as the vehicle for the design.
Destin Layne and her fiancee Jonathan Block and I relaxing in my 50's Sofa
Moving away from furniture, I was particularly impressed with the ceramics of Gilles Caffier from Paris.
Paris ceramic artist Gilles Caffier was impressive with his textured "objet"
Textiles were not widely represented, but I loved the collection of hand-woven African fabrics imported by Afrique Authentique-AutheticAfrica.com from London.
There are always some rugs to be found at the show. I particularly liked a hand-woven silk rug with subtle colors woven in Nepal and imported by Classic Rug Collection in New York. The owner told me that it can also be woven in “silk-bamboo threads” a technique developed by shaving the bamboo very thinly… Bravo for bamboo; a wonderfully versatile material.
As our tour of the show compelled us to walk through exhibit after exhibit of bathroom fixtures, I found one Italian manufacturer who came up with some original ideas… (Leave it to the Italians to carve marble into a malleable material and create an original sink.)
Lighting always strikes a chord with me. I liked the Stickbulbs designed by Min Hong, who works in Long Island, N.Y. His sticks are art disguised as lamps, using LED technology.
My friend, Christopher Poehlmann always comes up with a subtle variation on a theme. He carved acrylic blocks and illuminated them with high tech LED. (Some years ago, Chris made a beautiful chandelier for my Nantucket Kitchen.)
A block of carved acrylic is illuminated with a tiny LED bulb
Christopher, Elin and I (on my electric scooter) reminiscing about old times
There were dozens of globe lights with bare bulbs housed in a variety of cleverly spun or perforated plastic materials.
And just for the fun of it, we found this Pterodactyl made out of cardboard by a Japanese artist
There is always one after-market-party not to miss at Ralph Pucci International. He provides the best entertainment with every wannabe seen designer or aspiring starlet making an appearance.
Having ingested enough furniture in the past two days, I concentrated on the entertainment and found this “installation-art” in slow motion… A good way to end ICFF 2013.