Noho Design District 2011


When the Sight Unseen and Uhuru teams rolled up the grate and entered the Great Jones Lumber building on Monday, May 9, it was like déjà vu all over again — one full year after we’d closed the door on the inaugural Noho Design District, the space’s vast rooms were as dark, empty, and beautifully raw as when we first laid eyes on them, but with half-disassembled wooden signs, wayward Macallan cups, and other stray remains of the 2010 festivities still intact. The weight of all the work that lay ahead immediately hit us: four long days of manual labor in order to breathe life back into the building, to transform it from its dormant state into the hub of the 2011 Noho event, where the work of more than 100 designers would be on display for four days.

While we set about organizing the inventory for Sight Unseen’s first pop-up shop and envisioning how best to display the works in our McMasterpieces show, Uhuru were buzzing to and from their Red Hook studio, cutting vinyls and constructing pegboards until the wee hours, not to mention prepping for the launch of their own new furniture line. Fort Standard were busily cutting OSB plinths for their fellow Noho Next-ers. Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Bocci was across the street wrangling a crane from Queens in order to hoist its chandeliers 40 feet into the air, and Relative Space was spreading dozens of cutting-edge designs from Berlin across four tables that spelled out “$HIT.” More than a few of us pulled all-nighters in the process.

But when the dust had cleared — including the actual toxic cloud kicked up by Bernhardt Design‘s professional cleaning service, which creative director and Noho patron Jerry Helling graciously sent over after a mid-week walk-through — it was apparent to everyone that we had created something special. The Noho Design District was conceived as a new platform from which to champion creativity, multidisciplinary work, and emerging talents during New York Design Week, and we had managed to squeeze some of the very best examples of each into an area encompassing less than 15 city blocks. Our thank yous are too long to list here, so instead we’ll present you with a slideshow surveying the events of May 13-16, 2011, including all of the folks who made it possible. And if you’d like to get involved in the 2012 event, it’s never too early to let us know.