What We Saw
At New York Design Week 2012, Part IV: The Rest

At 8:15 AM on Monday, May 21, I heard it in my sleep: thunder, really loud thunder, loud enough to wake me up and send me flying to the window in a panic. The Noho Design District‘s 22 Bond space had shown signs of roof leakage during setup earlier that week, and with torrential downpours seeming imminent, I threw on shoes and glasses and rushed meet Jill at the space to begin damage control. Thus went the day, as we scrambled to clean up puddles and position buckets underneath the growing indoor deluge, our dreams of making it to the rest of New York Design Week’s offsite shows slipping away from us by the hour. We’d seen Wanted Design and Matter the day before, but as fate would have it, there would be no Boffo Show House for us this year, nor would we make it to Model Citizens, despite a valiant effort which saw us sprinting up the stairs of the venue fifteen minutes before the show was scheduled to close, only to find that almost everyone had packed up early. Luckily the American Design Club‘s Raw + Unfiltered exhibition at Heller Gallery — part two of the Karlsson’s Unfiltered project — remained on view later that week, so we paid it a belated visit. (The Boffo house is up through June 4, though as of press time we hadn’t been able to get there quite yet; ditto for the Herman Miller pop-up shop, on until July 1.) Next year, if they haven’t quite perfected cloning technology just yet, we at least hope to nip this problem in the bud with a more foolproof modern invention: interns.


Joe Doucet peers into the hypnotic surface of his VisAge mirror, a walnut cone with an amber-colored surface. It debuted as part of his new On Time project, which greeted visitors to Wanted Design this year.


Another Wanted standout was the "America Made Me" show, a collaboration between Raleigh Denim and Bernhardt Design, the output of which was a special series of cutting tables like the ones used in the esteemed jeanmaker's factory.


Raleigh Denim transported part of its workshop to Chelsea for the occasion, constructing its jeans on-site using the new tables along with its vintage sewing machines.


Raleigh Denim co-founder Victor Lytvinenko — who gave us the inside scoop on the new shop the brand is opening soon in New York — held up the first pair to be completed that weekend in the pop-up workshop.


Also part of the project was a collection of hand-carved valets by Scottish designer and Bernhardt fave Jephson Robb, which looked far too sculptural and precious to hang one's dungarees on — or anything else, for that matter.


Not everything at Wanted was made in America, however; the French scene set up its own soapbox with Nouvelle Vague, which showed off the country's best emerging talents. In addition to pieces by Pierre Favresse and Ionna Vautrin, we loved these Louxor lights by Pool.


Another design name that was new to us: Shonquis Moreno, a fellow writer and longtime friend of ours who branched out this year and began creating silk scarves based on personal photographs from her past. They were part of the iGet.it pop-up shop at Wanted, but you can buy them here.


Takeshi Miyakawa protegee Louis Lim, who focuses on the intersection of design and sculpture, presented not only at the Sight Unseen–curated Modern Craft show at the Merchant's House Museum over the weekend, but also at Wanted. His Round & Round bench contained an internal drawer that could cycle out one side of the seat and into the other.


Lim demonstrating the drawer's infinite loop for us.


Back at the Heller Gallery in the Meatpacking district, our friends at the American Design Club once again put together a spot-on show of new work by emerging talents. The second installment of the Unfiltered project by Karlsson's Vodka (of which yours truly were the first), the Raw + Unfiltered show asked designers to highlight "a material or process in its most natural, unfiltered state." In Yukeong Lee's case, it was nylon threads, which give this Shaggy Storage unit its weird tactile appeal.


Sara Ebert's Contour Lamps get their form from heat-shrink tubing squeezed around wire cages, like two trouble lights caught in a Chinese finger trap.


Another favorite of ours was this set of salt shakers made from — what else? — salt. Himalayan sea salt, to be precise. It's by Biodactic Designs with Andie Olive.


Several designers worked in cast-aluminum. Michael Dreeben and Ayush Kasliwal used it to fashion the Origami bowls on the left, while Chicagoan Steven Haulenbeek molded it to look just like styrofoam.


The show left us digging the work of Chris Schanck out of Detroit, who made this steel chair fitted with plastic stretch-wrap and a mirror we couldn't manage to get a nice photo of. If only we could read more about him and his work — his website suggests he's a man of few words.


Brendan Keim made a strong showing at this year's ICFF, with some intriguing interactive pieces in Noho's Sonos Listening Library at The Standard, East Village hotel, plus this chandelier at Raw + Unfiltered that was content to just hang there and look beautiful.


It's hard to remember the days when the new MatterMade collection *wasn't* inevitably one of the week's biggest highlights. Since it launched in 2010, Jamie Gray's brand has seriously raised the stock on American contemporary design manufacturing. Pieces like Paul Loebach's new table and chairs, pictured, or Gray's own painted plywood storage system behind it, looked especially stunning staged in a former subway entrance Gray rented for the occasion — leftover mosaic tiling and all.


Hanging behind other new additions to the shop were three epic quilts by Meg Callahan, which — since they're digitally printed — subvert the typical craftsmanship of the genre.


Also at Matter, mirrors by future Sight Unseen subject Lex Pott, a small wooden bench with abalone accents by Chen Chen and Kai Williams, and wooden console tables by Andy Coolquit, whom we adore. We were surprised to see how understated — and non-multicolored — his furniture would be.


Jonah Takagi revealed a brand new version of his Range Life table for MatterMade, this one with a mini-portico, a wooden silo, and a smoked-glass box, all perched atop a grey pallet.


While we didn't make it to Model Citizens because of the situation at 22 Bond, we did ask our friends at The Principals — who helped us out with a series of tables for our Shape Shop at Creatures of Comfort in April — for a photo of the Cosmic Quilt project they installed there. It's a bit of reactive architecture that responds to the presence of people underneath it by undulating, which in turn changes the quality of the light and casts moving shadows on the floor. Click here to watch some videos the trio made for their Kickstarter campaign.


Our other chief regret is missing the Boffo Show House, which is up until June 4 but which we haven't managed to see in person yet. ROLU sent us this photo of the amazing bookshelf they constructed in their signature plywood — which is actually a series of stacked benches.

BOFFO Show House

Elsewhere in the show house: ROLU's A Set for Making Love furniture series and Everything Is Always Changing All the Time light for ARP. Also in this shot are UM Project's FWD Credenza and L.U.M. lamp, Colene Blanchet and Robert Peavey's I Lurv N.Y., the Faktura Tower chair, and Jesse Trentadue's Timbre Chair.


Despite all the drama, one thing we wouldn't dream of missing was Bernhardt Design's annual dinner at the Gramercy, where we were finally able to relax surrounded by some of our closest design buddies: Kiel Mead, Sarah Natkins of Camron PR, Mark Rozzo of Town and Country, Jonah Takagi, Jonathan Olivares, Dan Rubinstein from Surface, Amanda Dameron from Dwell, and Alex Williams from Rich Brilliant Willing. Not to mention the six or seven tables full of design luminaries that were lined up behind us. We all had a lot to celebrate — it was a great year for New York design!