How could we have possibly known, when we first decided to host an exhibition of California design during our third annual Noho Design District, that we would be blessed with four straight days of glorious, Los Angeles–style sunshine? (Followed, of course, by a day of downpours, but more on that tomorrow.) Springtime in New York is a fickle beast, and when we first began to plan how best to use the gorgeous second-floor terrace space we’d been given at the new Standard, East Village hotel, we said a prayer for mild climes but also engaged in fretful what-ifs with the hotel staff, talking about contingencies like awnings, tarps, and the possibility of moving everything — save for a nearly 50 square foot teak and rubber fort constructed on-site by Matt Gagnon — inside.
But in typically relaxed California fashion, we had nothing to worry about. On the first of those sunny days, the designers we’d handpicked — in collaboration with Brooks Hudson Thomas of the peripatetic retail project Specific — filed in to install their works. Benjamin Luddy and Makoto Mizutani of Scout Regalia stopped by to show off their stylish, American-made bicycle prototypes, but quickly left to pedal around in the sunshine, looking for the perfect spot for an impromptu photo shoot. Kelly Lamb wandered around the inside space, wondering where her Hanging Totems, strung with crystals and semi-precious stones and topped by cast-bronze triangles, would best catch the light. Gabriel Abraham of Atelier de Troupe laid out his beautifully rendered campaign-style Bivouac furniture collection, then set to work ironing the chairs’ fabric seats out on the patio. Steven Shein unpacked his chrome- and brass-plated modernist valets, then padded around barefoot, trying out using his own shoes as styling props.
In the days that followed, meetings were held on pillows inside Gagnon’s fort, beer was smuggled up from the downstairs hotel bar, and people milled around wondering how exactly we’d managed to transport the Golden State’s mellow vibe to the hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan. Here’s a look at the designers who helped make it happen.
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.
If we've been quiet this week, it's because — as usual — we're up to something big, something outside the realm of the digital. In this case, that something is the 2012 Noho Design District, taking place in New York's Noho neighborhood in just two short weeks, from May 18 to 21. We founded the NDD three years ago to ensure that there would always be a place for the kind of design we love during New York Design Week — independent talents, innovative brands, and an emphasis on the creative, not just the commercial — and our efforts have only grown since then. With the help of the local organization Noho-Bowery Stakeholders, this year's show promises more locations than ever, including two new brand new hubs: the former photo studio at 22 Bond, and the Standard, East Village hotel, where Sonos will help us host a series of exhibitions that includes a showcase of California design curated by your faithful editors. Other exciting developments: The new city-wide design-week coalition we're a part of (check out the DesignweekNYC.org site for details), and a shuttle that will be looping around town to all the hotspots during ICFF, including Noho. There's still a lot left to be done before then, but we wanted to take a moment to give you a sneak peek of what's in progress; the process images below were submitted by some of the designers whose work you'll see on view at the Noho Design District. We can't wait to show you the final results.
Last week, the editors of Sight Unseen toured the former Cooper Square Hotel, which is in the process of blossoming into a gorgeously rendered East Village branch of the Standard. We met with the organizers of Wanted Design to talk about New York Design Week, and a planned alliance between offsite shows including the American Design Club, Model Citizens, and our Noho Design District. We had an ungodly amount of $1 oysters, bought a new pair of Warby Parker glasses, and got into a glaring match with an Apple Genius Bar employee who refused to replace a power adapter that had met an untimely death. What we did not do, however, was attend Stockholm Design Week — we stayed put this year while our friends braved jetlag and below-freezing temperatures to experience the annual unveiling of all things new in Scandinavian design. And yet rather than totally miss out on all the action, we found a willing scout who, while she preferred to remain anonymous for various reasons, was happy to report back on the goings-on in and around the fair — all with a Sight Unseen slant, of course.