What We Saw
At New York Design Week 2012, Part I: ICFF

We may have spent most of our New York Design Week(end) tending to the most successful Noho Design District ever — wrap-up post coming soon! — but this year we were determined to see as much of everyone else’s presentations as possible, including spending more time walking the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits, checking in with old friends while discovering new talents. And since Roll & Hill opted not to reprise the bar they plopped in the middle of the fair last year, plying us with beers and chips as we charged our phones and completely lost track of time, we were able to do a relatively thorough sweep before racing back out into the sunshine again. We started out just snapping products we loved, but then couldn’t resist adding a Sight Unseen twist, so we asked some of the more adventurous designers and brand ambassadors to strike a pose with one of their new pieces — which turned out to be a welcome break from the tedium of spending one’s days doing business inside a windowless convention center. See our highlights here, then stay tuned for our roundup of this year’s offsite shows.

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With very little prompting, Derek Chen, founder of the San Francisco–based furniture company Council, opted to wear the new Twig chair by Chad Wright around his neck. Despite being incredibly thin and svelte for a chair, it was incredibly heavy as a necklace, so we had to work quickly to get the shot.

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Also at the Council booth were these very shape-y side tables by Atelier Takagi.

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Our next victim was Alex Wililams, one-third of Rich Brilliant Willing, who posed with the trio's Quart lamp. Not an entirely new piece, but it did help illustrate the runaway trend of this year's design week: marble. Often flanked by copper, brass, wood, or some combination thereof, marble was hands-down the MVP of this year's furniture debuts.

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The group did debut new work, however, including the handsome Cask stool and table in oak and brass, and the eclipse-like Radient sconce pictured above them.

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A few rows away at the Areaware booth — where Mr. Williams once worked before RBW blew up — the latest updates on Harry Allen's hand hooks clutched iPads and iPhones.

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Kiel Mead's Driftwood Wall Hooks also made an appetizing display, pinned up behind a pile of Bow Bins like the ones unveiled during last year's Noho Design District.

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Before we left the Areaware booth we spotted Paul Loebach's most recent creations — small wooden lamps that, amazingly, only cost $75, and the latest colorways for his Distortion candlesticks. (We felt a small pang of jealousy knowing we'd agreed to give one of each to our graphic designer, Benjamin Critton, as thanks for the stunning poster he made for our Modern Craft exhibition at the Merchant's House Museum.)

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Areaware also bestowed upon Jill her favorite item of the day: A fake iPhone that the company had fabricated for stores in order to merchandise Jonas Damon's Alarm Dock. It didn't function but had a realistic heft and finish. She planned to give it to her baby, to keep him from coveting the real thing — at least until he's old enough to know the difference.

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At the Blu Dot stand, director of sales and all-around fun gal Medora Danz pretended to play, at our behest, one of the vintage items the company used to prop out its booth. In the background are Blu Dot's new $99 outdoor chairs, and the familiar company logo, which in this image looks like a chewing-gum bubble Medora's blowing out the end of her trumpet.

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At some point we spotted these brooms, which boast a strip of lights designed to help you, well... we don't know what, exactly! Illuminate your dirt trail? Funny.

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Much more straightforward were the new rubber and wood Euclid trays by London fave Tomás Alonso for Praxis, their shapes inspired by the mathematician's theories. We took a picture of them at the booth of neo-utility, (their distributor in the US), but subbed in this press shot instead because we love it so much.

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The all-female Brooklyn design collective Egg made its ICFF debut this year and snapped up the fair's Best New Designers award — rightly so, we thought, and not just because we were biased (a suite of marble-topped tables by Egg made an appearance across town at the NDD, in our Scale exhibition at The Standard, East Village). For being so new, their work is already quite sophisticated, like their tables above.

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We didn't get pics of all the new offerings from perennial faves Iacoli & McAllister, but we did capture one of their new tables, atop which was perched one of their necklaces and bottle openers.

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We also inadvertently captured this yawning mystery man, while admiring the design duo's insanely popular necklace collection.

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Our other jewelry-making friends, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, had a doppelganger of sorts at the booth of local duo Vonnegut Kraft, who had coincidentally used the same speckled variety of Hi-Macs for their new desk as their friends Chen and Kai used for a new series of bangles.

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A better shot of the desk.

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Our last model was Lindsey Adelman, who gave the thumbs up to Sight Unseen as she manned her pop-up lighting factory, where her team was putting together and customizing fixtures on-site.

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Her helpers wore matching jumpsuits, but we happen to know that Adelman herself was cloaked in Zero + Maria Cornejo. So chic.

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Next to a suite of her new brass fungus–adorned candlesticks, which she designed for Wallpaper's 2012 Handmade project, sat an elaborate Litill terrarium.

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Equally precious was this series of tool-inspired door handles by Philip Luscombe of Northumbria University, whose Designers in Residence exhibit was in our ICFF top five for the second year in a row, despite the fact that it's been shown around the world and not all the work on view was new.

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Expect a post soon on the making of the Northumbria pieces, but not before we show you parts II and III of our NYDW series, with recaps of the Noho Design District and the other offsite shows. Stay tuned!