Excerpt: Exhibition
Noho Design District

PHOTOS BY JAY Q CHEN

Even non-New Yorkers know Soho, the swath of land below Houston Street in Manhattan, colonized by artists in the ’60s and now the domain of the rich and the retail-obsessed. Noho, on the other hand, still flirts with obscurity, despite having been home to some of the city’s most legendary artists — Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank Stella, and Chuck Close, to name a few — as well as its first Herzog and de Meuron building. Sure, as an emerging neighborhood with several hotels on the rise, its streets are often crisscrossed with ungainly spiderwebs of scaffolding, but beneath that lies a creative energy so strong we at Sight Unseen figured it would be the perfect place to create a new satellite destination during New York design week: the Noho Design District. All of the elements were already there.

In the past few years, the neighborhood has undergone a visible change at street level, with boutiques like Oak, Rogan, Zero Maria Cornejo, and Billy Reid taking up residence alongside historic businesses like Acme Sandblasting and D&D Salvage. Williamsburg design shop The Future Perfect opened an outpost in Noho last year, just across the street from Andy Spade and Anthony Sperduti’s burgeoning shop and creative consultancy, Partners & Spade. And then there are the elements you can’t see: The upstairs headquarters for the Arts Corporation, where architect Mike Latham creates technophilic sculptural furniture, and for the social media-focused branding agency Electric Artists, among others. It’s the perfect setting in which to explore the values Sight Unseen holds dear: the nurturing of local and emerging talent, a respect for both history and the avant-garde, and an interest in what unites creative disciplines like art, fashion, and design.

When we began thinking about ICFF eight months ago, we realized that these were all values that could be better represented during New York’s annual furniture fair, when commerce often tends to come before culture. What if, we wondered, we could create a new platform for exploring both? And so following in the footsteps of Abe Gurko’s Meatpacking District initiative, we — along with project director Maria Cristina Rueda from Uhuru Design — began speaking to our friends in Noho about how we could help them initiate an annual neighborhood event that would fill their spaces with the work of established brands and emerging talents in art and design.

Oak, Daryl K, Billy Reid, Rogan, The Future Perfect, Partners & Spade, Relative Space, and even the butcher shop Japan Premium Beef all came on board, with the hip café The Smile as our press center. Eager to support the cause, Anthony Lauto of the Great Jones Lumber building allowed Areaware and Roll & Hill to move in for a week, while Wabnitz Editions and the new crowdsourced online furniture producer Stylefactory.com generously made it possible for nearly a dozen young designers to showcase their work at the pop-up exhibition Noho Next. Once our doors opened, The Macallan helped us throw a Saturday night party in all 10 spaces, making it an event to remember. We hope to expand the cast of characters even further for next year’s show, but for now, here are the highlights from this one.

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45 Great Jones: In honor of its 5th anniversary, New York design producer Areaware refashioned the first floor of this empty lumber warehouse into an exhibition space.

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45 Great Jones: The company invited Confetti System to create a piñata installation in the entrance to the space ...

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45 Great Jones: ... where new Areaware products by Jonas Damon, Paul Loebach, Ross Menuez, and Rich Brilliant Willing joined classics from the company's first five years.

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45 Great Jones: Behind the Areaware presentation, up-and-coming trio Rich Brilliant Willing also introduced a series of new lamps in bent metal.

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45 Great Jones: And on the third floor, Jason Miller's new lighting company Roll & Hill launched its first collection and hosted a private dinner to celebrate.

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Partners & Spade: Canned meat and salt from the Golden Key specialty foods shop in Brighton Beach, one of a dozen offerings from the Outer Borough Foods show Sight Unseen co-curated with Partners & Spade.

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Japan Premium Beef: At this jewelbox of a Japanese butcher shop on Great Jones, an installation of glass sausages hung in the window.

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Japan Premium Beef: They're the work of Sam Baron, director of the Benetton design research center Fabrica, who coincidentally had already been working on the piece when we called to offer him the space.

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Billy Reid: Toronto-based twin woodworkers Brothers Dressler installed their reclaimed and refashioned School Chairs in the Bond Street clothing store.

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Billy Reid: Long Island City–based glassblower Andrew O. Hughes also contributed a handmade design — a set of tumblers and a carafe in faceted green uranium glass.

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Noho Next: D.C. talent Jonah Takagi debuted a new flat-pack shelving system inspired by bamboo scaffolding as well as pendant lamps with a "Saved By the Bell meets Don Johnson" feel.

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Noho Next: Brooklyn design studio Uhuru's Coney Island collection is made from wood salvaged from the famed amusement park's boardwalk.

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Noho Next: All day, passersby stopped to ogle Uhuru's lounge chair in the window, the collection's pièce de résistance.

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Noho Next: Jonathan Nesci designed these pieces for Chicago pop-up design gallery Volume's first show; Noho Next was the collection's New York debut.

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Noho Next: These ceramic inner tubes and vases — the latter inspired by puffy-coat sleeves — are a collab between Spanish ceramicist Xavier Mañosa and graphic designer Alex Trochut. They're now for sale at The Future Perfect.

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Noho Next: New chairs by Gregory Buntain on the left, and on the right, a table with a floating glass top by Sergio Silva and Matthew Bradshaw

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Noho Next: The show was sponsored by Wabnitz Editions along with Stylefactory.com, a new crowd-sourced online furniture producer which brought initial designs from Misewell (lamp), TK (chair), and Noah Packard (sofa).

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Daryl K: Daryl Kerrigan's flagship store hosted a photograph by artist Marlo Pascual, wooden stump lamps by Brooklyn designer Paul Leonard, and an installation of printed cardboard boxes by Charles Lahti in the dressing room.

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The Future Perfect: British newcomer Alexandra Randall's Rat (left) and Squirrel Lamps, made from actual taxidermied animals

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The Future Perfect: A new collaboration between Lindsey Adelman and Seattle glassblower Nancy Callan

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The Future Perfect: Jaime Hayon's Parrot Party collection for Lladró

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The Future Perfect: For his Framed series, Paul Loebach hacked up antique picture frames from Sebastian + Barquet and turned them into mirrors.