As anyone who’s ever made an album knows, sophomore efforts are by far the toughest to pull off. And so, even though we here at Sight Unseen have been putting together a major New York Design Week showcase in some way or another since 2010, this year marked only our second outing as Sight Unseen OFFSITE, which debuted last year to enormous fanfare and praise. The stakes were incredibly high.
Part of the appeal of last year’s show — aside from the insanely high caliber of talent on display — came from our location: a beautiful, 20,000-square-foot brick-lined former factory in the middle of Soho. This year, that location was under construction, but we happened upon an even more brilliant concept: Why not set up shop just a block from the Javits, so that anyone going to ICFF could simply pop over, eat a bite in our delicious cafe rather than suffering the Javits’ underground cafeteria, and view the work in a pretty, light-filled, white-walled space? The plan worked like a charm. Hudson Mercantile proved a perfect backdrop for our showcase, which this year featured the work of more than 100 designers, who hailed from places as varied as Los Angeles, Vancouver, Indianapolis, St. Augustine, FL, Detroit, Seattle, Montreal, and, of course, Brooklyn. If you happened to miss it — or if you just want to relive the glory — check out our slideshow at right, which features our exhibitors from OFFSITE and its Collective Design satellite, and stay tuned for even more coverage later today!
Thanks so much to everyone who attended, thanks to the exhibitors who helped make this week’s show such a beautiful success, thanks to the Collective Design team for their tremendous support, thanks to our graphic designers Kokoro & Moi and our PR team at Camron, and many thanks to our partners — Cain Cain Studios, Dazian, Space Productions, and Welkin Vines. And a huge round of applause to our title sponsor Ford, without whom none of this would have been possible in the first place!
When we founded the Noho Design District back in 2009, it was meant to provide a much-needed, well-curated platform for independent designers, whose numbers — particularly in America — had begun to surge. But it was also meant to add an extra dose of dimension and excitement to New York Design Week (or NYCxDesign, as it has since come to be known), which at the time was considered preeeeeetty lackluster, to say the least. By that measure alone, the first edition of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our successor to the Noho Design District, was a massive success; word on the street was that this NYDW was the best anyone could remember, and we're proud to have played a significant role.
Though your Sight Unseen editors have been in major curation mode for the past two weeks, we've also had day to day work to do as, you know, journalists. So for five days during our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event last week, Monica and I set up camp on the Astroturf-covered bleachers of the MOLD Future Food Café, where we caught up on emails and posted stories to this very site. It was the perfect vantage point from which to view our own event: We could see friends and VIPs on their way in, and we could overhear people heading to the elevator, on their way up to the second floor. The most common refrain we heard? "Oh my God, there's more upstairs?"
Comprising four days, 12,000 square feet, and 50-something exhibitors, Sight Unseen OFFSITE is a major undertaking — a Herculean one, in fact, if you consider that there are only two of us leading the entire operation. So when we announced in April that we were doing an additional show this year, at the Collective Design fair, people quite understandably looked at us like we'd lost our minds. And yet we persisted on the sheer force of our belief that Steven Learner and his team at Collective are doing great things for design, things we wanted to be a part of — not just providing a platform for some of the world's most important design galleries to sell to clients, but attempting to widen the dialogue with special projects like (this year) on-site design performances by The American Design Club, a Nap Lab by Various Projects and Print All Over Me, installations by OS & OOS and Jonathan Nesci, and of course, an offer to let us curate a corollary to Sight Unseen OFFSITE that featured six up-and-coming American designers making gallery-level work. If you didn't get the chance to see last week's Collective Design fair, which welcomed more than 10,000 visitors, here's our best of show — and stay tuned for images from our own presentation at Collective, which we'll be posting tomorrow.