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Our Favorites From IMM Cologne 2015

While the furniture market seems to be enjoying a slower pace of late – with many brands safely coasting on a design language of minimal lines and adaptable colorways geared towards the notion of versatility in our homes – the international interiors show IMM Cologne brought a smattering of unexpected and pleasing discoveries. From bold, new homegrown brands and a hall designated entirely to up-and-coming designers, to the surprising use of color across the bigger, international halls ('70s-style honey beige, maroon, and green anyone?) we bring you our favorite launches from this, the first furniture trade show of the year.
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We also noticed this amazing steel sculpture in the yard of one of the artisans on the main street; we later learned it was the work of Howard Smith, an American-born artist who moved to Fiskars in 1998 with his wife, the ceramicist Erna Altonen (more on this sweet couple later!)

In Finland

If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you know that we are, above all, sunshine-seeking people who happen to be inextricably linked to New York and its fickle seasons. Normally we leap at the chance to hightail it off the East Coast anytime between November and April, in search of beaches, pools, palm trees, and vitamin D. But somehow, while Monica and the rest of the design world headed to Miami at the beginning of December, I found myself saying yes to a week in Finland, home of 30-degree temperatures and 3PM sunsets. When I arrived, no fewer than three people delighted in telling me that the previous month in Finland had seen only 15 hours of sunshine.
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At Art Basel and Design Miami 2014

Glancing out the window on this cold, grey, rainy day in New York City, it's hard to believe that just last week we were frolicking in the sunshine in Miami, immersing ourselves in art and design and running into friends like Su Wu and Brent Dzekciorius on the street while flitting between parties and champagne brunches. While the primary purpose of our time there was to launch a new collaboration with Print All Over Me for the shop at the Standard (read all about that here), we managed to squeeze a million other activities into our four-day trip, from a visit to the impeccably curated Untitled art fair to a bizarre slide lecture and fashion show by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe to a 3AM performance by rapper Rae Sremmurd at a local nightclub that left our ears ringing for three days straight. While you won't find that particular dalliance documented here, we did take plenty of photographs of art and design; some of our favorites are posted after the jump.
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In Venice, for the Bugaboo x Diesel launch

As we understand it, this is the dream, right? To turn your art-school thesis project into a multimillion dollar corporation and a brand that’s coveted the world over? That’s essentially what happened to Dutch designer Max Barenburg, who devised the origins of the Bugaboo stroller back in his days as a student at Design Academy Eindhoven in the early ’90s. The original design did not survive intact — Barenburg at first envisioned the now iconic stroller as an all-terrain vehicle that could turn into a two-wheeler and hook up to a mountain bike for a bit of baby off-roading — but its essential DNA was there: the telescoping handle meant to accommodate tall Dutch dads, the central joint that would allow the stroller to fold up using a single hand. Barenburg could never have foreseen Bugaboo’s massive popularity in part because he never could have guessed the collaborations the stroller would inspire. To date, the brand has worked with Pendleton, Missoni, Viktor & Rolf, the Andy Warhol Foundation (we particularly like the stroller covered in a giant Velvet Underground banana), and, as of next month, Diesel.
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At the 2014 New York Art Book Fair

Anyone who believes that publishing is dead should try attending the New York Art Book Fair on a Friday afternoon — neither day jobs nor the gorgeous weather nor the fact that the big public opening was the night before made it any less of an unequivocal mob scene at the start of this past weekend, when we spent four hours squeezing through its hot, sweaty warrens in pursuit of interesting things. We don't consider ourselves aficionados of the independent press scene, but there was still plenty for the armchair enthusiast to discover, which is part of what makes the fair so darn popular: In addition to scores of obscure art books and rare editions, which you could spend a lifetime or two attempting to browse, there are also great prints, installations, ephemera, tote bags, and even ceramics, like the paper-holders by Bjørn Mortensen of Apis Press that are pictured above. We're sure we missed at least half of what was actually on offer, but we've catalogued the rest of our favorite finds after the jump.
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For Future Stars?, The Aram Gallery thrust forward seven exciting designers at the forefront of their creative exploits. We were totally besotted by Kim Thome’s Layer Screen (featured here), which was made up of layers of lighting gels, as well as Maria Jeglinska’s Drawn Objects series of vases and trays (above).

London Design Festival 2014

As summer turns to fall, so we turn the design diary to September and one of our favorite events: London's annual Design Festival. Now in its 12th year, LDF has evolved to include not only the city’s flourishing design community, but a national and increasingly international mix, competing against the behemoth that is Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April. But in addition to furniture debuts and high-profile launches, LDF also acts as an occasion for those lesser design-mad folks to enjoy events and workshops around the city, as well as the oh-so-tempting retail destinations offering the latest coordinating stationery necessities (yes, HAY, we’re looking at you). With the launch of our pop-up keeping us New York–bound, we sent our London correspondent Rae Blunstone out onto the circuit, LDF guide in hand and sturdy sneakers at the ready, to pick up her favorites from the week's events.
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Tauba Auerbach, Ghost/Ghost, 2013

At Design Miami/Basel and Art Basel 2014

If you've never been to the Swiss version of Art Basel and Design Miami/Basel, what they say about it is pretty much true: If Miami's overall vibe seems to put partying, relaxation, and hedonism first and serious business second, Basel is decidedly the other way around. Yes, people like Dasha Zhukova and Craig Robbins throw fancy dinners, and spending at least one night out until 4AM at certain local bars is a required rite, and the sales numbers are probably quite similar for both events, but being in Basel just feels different. For one, there's no offsite scene to speak of, so you spend almost the whole time in massive halls that are jam-packed full of people, leaving no room to forget that you're basically inside a shopping mall for the filthy rich. And the banks of the Rhine, pretty as they may be, are no South Beach. People wear more clothes in Basel. Everything is twice as expensive. If there's one obvious advantage — for a journalist or casual observer — to attending Basel over Miami, it's that you're far less likely to be distracted by hangovers, pool parties, boozy brunches, and beach FOMO. You spend the entire day scrutinizing the actual work, and if you're lucky, like we were, you come home with a camera full of satisfying discoveries.
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Another stylishly appointed cultural institution we visited was the artist-run gallery Kunsternes Hus, which had a show on of drawings by the late great textile designer Synnøve Anker Aurdal, whose work you should Google immediately if you don't already know it.

In Norway

If anyone needed proof this year that Scandinavia had quietly usurped London's status as the world's hottest contemporary design scene, it could be found at the Salone del Mobile in April, where the presentation that Danish brand Hay put on, complete with a pop-up shop and an utter madhouse of a cocktail party, was pretty much the talk of the town. It's entirely thanks to the rise, in the past few years, of not just Hay but brands like Menu, Ferm Living, One Nordic, Muuto, Gubi, and Design House Stockholm, all of whom are working with emerging talents across the region. As we've watched the Nordic scene grow, we've managed to pay visits to Sweden (three times), Denmark (twice), and Finland (once, in the dead of winter, natch) — even to Iceland, for its DesignMarch festival three years ago. That left Norway as our personal holy grail, made doubly intimidating because of its famed reputation for being outrageously expensive. Two weeks ago, as you may have noticed on Instagram, we finally took the plunge.
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Our Top 5 From Show RCA 2014

As the summer solstice approaches, so too does a wave of graduate shows offering up the latest creative projects and design solutions from the leading sphere of design schools. In London, no show is more hotly anticipated than the Royal College of Art’s annual exhibition Show RCA, noted for its impressive arsenal of postgraduate talent. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to spot this year’s pool of emerging stars across the contemporary art and design practices. The show took place simultaneously across two campuses: Design Products in Kensington, which offered its usual heady mix of modern-day design solutions, and over at the Battersea campus, Textiles, Fine Art and Sculpture students refreshed the visual senses with investigations into color and material. Here are our top five "ones to watch" from the exhibition.
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At New York Design Week 2014: David Rockwell by Caliber Grill

It's June, and soon we'll be heading off to places like Art Basel and the Venice Biennale, but you'll excuse us if we're still reveling in the highlights from the Best Ever New York Design Week. And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one last special exhibitor from our Sight Unseen OFFSITE exhibition: Rockwell Group, who came onto the event as a partner to show off the serious bells-and-whistles grill that the New York–based firm recently designed for Caliber Range Corporation. Like almost everything Rockwell Group creates, the grill was built around the idea of a shared experience, and in that way it was the perfect product for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, which ended up being as much a social gathering as it was a design exhibition
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Lots of first-timers at this year's ICFF enlivened the proceedings. We loved Fort Standard's new donut-shaped, dimmable LED Framework light.

At New York Design Week 2014: ICFF & The Best of The Rest

There was only one drawback to having a smashingly successful show of our own this year: It left us woefully little time to pound the pavement, seeing what other goodies this edition of NYCxDesign had to offer. A partial list of things we were sad to have missed: The Gourmand's fruit stand at Vitsoe, the gorgeous Alexander Girard for Herman Miller space, a dance performance at The Future Perfect the night of our own cocktail party, Anna Karlin's textile collaboration with Japanese weavers Hosoo at Atelier Courbet, the Yabu Pushelberg exhibition Rational x Intuitive Thought, and the debut of what may end up being the first and last furniture collection by Fab. But there were moments when we did manage to sneak away.
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At New York Design Week 2014: Spanish Design at Sight Unseen OFFSITE

We've had a special place in our hearts for Spanish design for as long as we can remember. After all, the very first scouting trip we ever took for Sight Unseen, way back in the summer of 2009, was to sunny Barcelona. (Don't even get us started on Design in Spain, the last full issue Monica and I worked on at I.D. Magazine, and one of our personal favorites, period.) So when the Spanish trade commission in New York asked us earlier this spring if we'd be interested in curating a selection of our favorite recent Spanish designs for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the answer was an unequivocal yes. In the end, we chose 17 items that seemed classically Spanish, ranging as they did from sweet to silly, elegant to experimental and mixing classic materials like copper and wood with those never before used in design (melted gummy bear paint wash, anyone?) Once the designs had been selected, the emerging Barcelona studio Mermelada set about designing the exhibition (now called Sight Unseen x Mermelada Estudio ♥ Spanish Design) and styling the items. Read all about the works on display here, then check out Interiors From Spain for even more information about the participating designers.
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