In our fourth year of producing the Noho Design District, we’ve learned a few things. Namely that while industrial, disused spaces have loads of charm, they also run the risk of leaking when those May showers hit. After two years of emergency sandbagging and climbing onto roofs in our galoshes, we decided it was time to go legit. So when we heard last fall that 45 Bleecker Street — which played host to Tom Dixon’s labyrinthine underground exhibition in 2012 — was about to undergo a gut renovation, to be reborn as a music events space called SubCulture, we knew we wanted in.
We decided early on that the space would be filled with up-and-coming talents for our Noho Next exhibition, which in the past has proved a bellwether for design stardom, featuring the likes of Jonah Takagi, ROLU, Fort Standard, Iacoli & McAllister, and Brendan Ravenhill. We have a feeling this year’s edition will prove no different. From Eric Trine, whose amazing, candy-colored work we found on Instagram (!), to RISD grad Misha Kahn, who we’ve been touting as the next Gaetano Pesce to anyone who will listen, to Seattle’s Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, who turn out the most consistently beautiful work of any emerging studio we know, this was our biggest and strongest showing yet.
(Special thanks goes to our sponsor Jawbone who helped the whole thing come together and provided a soundtrack to our four days in the Bleecker Street bunker. A dedicated post coming to that awesomeness next week!)
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).
Each time we start to celebrate the end of yet another successful edition of our Noho Design District project — this one being our fourth, if you can believe it — it's not long before a certain realization hits us like a ton of bricks: We only really get a few short months to recover before we have to start the process allllll over again. We began planning in the fall for the 2013 edition of the show, which ran from May 17-20 and which we'll be recapping on Sight Unseen today and tomorrow, and it's almost impossible to fathom how much work could go into a four-day event that nevertheless flew by so quickly. There were spaces to secure (thanks, SubCulture!), flyers to finagle (thanks, Benjamin Critton!), and press-preview pastries to provide (thanks, The Smile!). And of course we had to find the perfect brand to partner with to help support all the amazing emerging talents we offer a platform to (thanks, Jawbone!). But in the end all that work would have amounted to naught had our exhibitors failed to bust out with some of the most stunning and inspiring designs we've ever shown, from the simplest concrete domino set to painstakingly elaborate chandeliers, light-up neon desks, and textile installations. In case you weren't lucky enough to join us for this year's event, we've put together a roundup of its highlights, the first half of which is featured in the slideshow at right; stay tuned for coverage of Noho Next, ICFF, and other offsite shows to come. And thanks to everyone who joined us this weekend!
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.