What We Saw
At New York Design Week 2012, Part III: The Noho Design District

PHOTOS BY MARK IANTOSCA

The question we get most often about curating and producing three years’ worth of Noho Design Districts isn’t “Can you spare an invite to the VIP party” or even “How can I show my work with you?” but “How on earth do you two do it?” This year was our biggest and best event yet: We had two new hubs (the empty former print lab at 22 Bond Street and The Standard, East Village hotel on Cooper Square); two new international partners (London’s Tom Dixon took over the basement of the Bleecker Street Theater while DMY Berlin hit the American circuit downstairs at 22 Bond); and exhibitions so big that one of them stretched across two different venues (The Future Perfect’s showcase busted the seams of its Great Jones flagship, continuing up the street at 2 Cooper Square). People assume that with two-dozen events and almost as many venues under our purview, we must have a small army of production assistants scurrying around out of sight — we don’t. But while the curatorial vision is ours alone, the Noho Design District is at heart a communal effort, and if one domino fell, the rest might tumble down along with it.

So before we introduce you to the talents who made this year’s NDD such a raging success, we must acknowledge those who helped get us here in the first place: Dave Alhadeff of The Future Perfect, who sat down with us three years ago when the NDD was but a glimmer and offered his full support as both a Noho retailer and a major design influencer; Uhuru’s Maria Cristina Rueda, who’s been responsible for the district’s gorgeous branding and graphic design for three years running; Roll & Hill, who signed on as our biggest exhibitor in year one and returned in 2012 with a monthlong temporary showroom; Areaware, for straddling Noho and the Javits with style for three years straight; Kiel Mead of the American Design Club, who helped curate not one, but two Noho shows even as he was hustling to finish his own Raw + Unfiltered exhibition; The Bowery Hotel for being the perfect venue for our party and the 4th Arts Block for helping us throw it; the team at the Standard, East Village for allowing us free reign of their public spaces; and last but not least, Zella Jones of the Noho-Bowery Stakeholders, who wrangled real estate on our behalf, arranged meetings with neighborhood bigwigs, and encouraged us to think bigger, resulting in a map — available year-round — that brands Noho as an art and design destination beyond just our weekend event.

There are a million more people we ought to thank but the list is too long to go on here, so instead we’ll present you with a slideshow surveying the events of May 18-21, 2012, including all of the folks who made it possible. And if you’d like to get involved in the 2013 event, it’s never too early to let us know.

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You were lucky if you ended your Noho journey here, in the Sonos Listening Library at the Standard, East Village. Kiel Mead was recruited to make this Soundalier — a Lindsey Adelman chandelier frame hung with Sonos speakers — as well as curate the room. Mead brought in talents from the American Design Club and pieces from The Future Perfect, plus a round Hästens mattress where the tired fairgoers could zone out.

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AmDC member Brendan Timmins's Memphis-inspired lamps.

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Lights and table by Taylor McKenzie-Veal, wireless wood remote by Brendan Keim (which dimmed the lights when rotated on the table!) and leather chair by Harry and Claudia Washington.

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In the hotel's restaurant, Cool Hunting, Architizer and Dwell teamed up to curate SCALE, an exhibition of architecturally minded furnishings from the likes of Egg Collective, Tanya Aguiniga, Fort Standard, Snarkitecture, Thaddeus Wolfe, Cmmnwlth, and more.

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And in the lobby bar, the Irish homegoods brand Makers & Brothers set up camp with the Wicklow-born woodworker James Carroll, who was carving and hammering 3-legged stools on-site.

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The finished stools, made from locally sourced Irish timber, were available for sale, but can now be found the Makers & Brothers shop site.

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The brand, which is run by brothers Jonathan and Mark Legge, also set up a pop-up for its other UK-made small goods. An exhibition of California design rounded out the offerings at the hotel. If you missed our post on it yesterday, check it out here.

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Visitors to our other hub at 22 Bond Street were greeted with this striking image: a collaborative exhibition of lighting and furniture by Bec Brittain and Fort Standard, which featured Brittain's SHY lights and Maxhedrons and Fort Standard's Counterweight lights, among others.

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In the rear, Areaware set up what creative director Laura Young jokingly called kindergarten: Alongside the brand's kid-friendly wares like Karl Zahn's Animal Boxes and Fort Standard's Balancing Blocks were a freezer full of ice pops and a glow-in-the-dark version of Harry Allen's Bank in the Form of a Pig — though the surrealist video accompany the pig's launch wasn't exactly soundtracked to lullabies.

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Downstairs, Mark Braun and Laura Leo from DMY Berlin unloaded a 1,500-pound shipment of furniture fresh from Germany, including this Shrank nesting cabinet by Aylin Kayser.

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Their neighbors were Chen Chen + Kai Williams who sold marble bangles, resin paintings, ham hocks, and the like — on former store fixtures from Moss no less — all for under $99.

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Resin painting details.

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The last exhibition in the building was Once Removed, curated by Jordan Kushins and Jaime Kopke. The curators asked nine designers to submit snapshots, then disseminated the results for use as inspiration images.

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Shown here are a crocheted electric cable piece by Rachel Boxnboim (right) and a series of button covers by London's Studio Swine (left). The latter were inspired by Fort Standard's photograph of an airplane cockpit and the idea that the knobs on airplane levers are differently shaped so that pilots can recognize them by touch in zero visibility.

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The sleeper hit of this year's NDD? Modern Craft at The Merchant's House Museum, curated by us. The museum, which dates back to the 19th century, is NYC's only family home that remains intact from that era. We installed the work of five designers — including Andrew Rumpler of Nine Stories, whose bar stools are shown here, and Colgate Searle, who made the masks behind them — amidst the beautiful time-capsule interior.

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In the museum's kitchen were Colgate Searle’s Dot Dot utensils, meticulously carved from hardwoods and combined with materials such as hide and bone. Searle explains that Dot Dot is a collection of utensils and tools with different implied functionalities, including seven spoons made from a single section of an early 19th-century Chestnut barn beam.

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On the main floor were Paul Loebach's Super-Conductive tables, made from lashed-together copper tubes — an extension of a project Loebach created for us back in 2009's McMasterpieces exhibition. In his new series, the metal pipes are treated with acids and dies and finished with a unique stone top.

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Another Super Conductive table.

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In the bedroom were two Sling Chairs by Kyle Steps of Williamsburg's Sit + Read gallery, which were conceived as a way to display a collection of overdyed Persian rugs created by Still + Co. for an exhibition earlier this year at the gallery. The rugs are cut, hemmed, and hand-stitched onto welded wrought-iron frames.

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Lastly, the Brooklyn designer Louis Lim submitted his Star Knot furniture piece which at first appears to be a playful sculptural object, but soon reveals itself to be a storage unit with retractable drawers.

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Next door, the vast, empty lobby space of the condo building at 2 Cooper Square was taken over by Roll & Hill, who installed a temporary showroom in which to show off their entire collection through mid-June.

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New lights this year included NDD alum Lukas Peet's Rudi lamp (previous image) as well as this new configuration of the Modo Chandelier by Jason Miller, with milky glass bulbs from Italy.

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The space was so big that Roll & Hill gave over half of it to an offsite for The Future Perfect, which featured new work by SCP, Piet Hein Eek, and others as well as an installation of new cone-shaped party decorations by Confettisystem.

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Back at the shop's flagship at 57 Great Jones, pieces from Lindsey Adelman's Dusk to Dawn collection.

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And in the window, London designer Russell Pinch had created miniatures of his entire collection, the large-sized versions of which are for sale at The Future Perfect.

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At the Japanese butcher shop Japan Premium Beef, we continued a tradition begun two years ago by Sam Baron's glass sausages: This year's meat-themed installation took the form of balloons made by Chicagoans Lisa Smith, Caroline Linder, Michael Savona, and Steven Haulenbeek.

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The meat balloons were shaped like sausages and different cuts of steak: porterhouse, flank, filet mignon, and T-bone. All employed an initial clear latex, dripped with red, pink, and brown. For more about the project, go here.

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Two blocks south, Tom Dixon commandeered the basement of the Bleecker Street Theater filling it with new work, a pop-up shop by Fab.com, and a video broadcasting booth by Surface magazine.

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Dixon's new work from Milan had its American debut here, including these lamps, a personal favorite.

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Down the street at the fashion boutique Zero + Maria Cornejo, the Seattle-based duo Ladies & Gentleman studio hung its new Ovis chairs, designed and hand-built in collaboration with textile artist Ashley Helvey, as well as new brass Aura lights.

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Another furniture/textiles collaboration: This light, plus a chair that's not pictured, created by Uhuru in their workshop with knitted elements by Wool and the Gang, on view at The Hole Gallery.

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On Sunday afternoon, we reprised another tradition: Artists from Baggu were on-site, hand-painting the brand's leather pouches with geometric designs or custom emoticons. The emoticon pouches were a Noho-only event, but the geometric pouches are now for sale in the Sight Unseen Shop!

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Noho Next, our annual exhibition of up-and-coming talent, was this year envisioned as a curated walking tour of American design. We culled submissions from members of the American Design Club, then paired our selections with retail storefronts in the area. These Stow Away boxes by Emily Rothschild — designed for safekeeping, archiving, and gifting heirlooms — were installed in the window of Environment furniture.

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The installation itself showcased objects and stories from Noho and the East Village — neighborhood relics from noteworthy people, events, and institutions shared by long-time residents and regulars.

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At the Bowery antique store Lost City Arts, Jen Turner installed her Brooklyner bar/desk and turntable/desk hybrid cabinets, plus a custom neon sign that represented the dual nature of her pieces' function.

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In the window of Oak, Iacoli & McAllister paired their steel table bases with cast-plaster tops by Caitlin Mociun.

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At the spa Completely Bare, a plate-glass window was filled floor to ceiling with Farrah Sit and Bryce Wymer's Ballast: Up Culture project, a hydroponic system of weighted pyramidal ceramics in which water and mineral nutrients cycle through a brass grid, feeding soil-less vegetation hung vertically.

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At Relative Space, a new collection of work by So Takahashi: Chairs, lamps, and stools made from steel and oak, they draw inspiration from both Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetic traditions — namely, wood-bending and origami.

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Last but not least, a snap from our Sunday night NDD celebration at The Bowery Hotel, sponsored by Milagro Tequila and featuring an installation by Lindsey Adelman. Thanks to everyone who came out, and see you next year!