At New York Design Week 2012, Part II: Hotel California


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.