A shorter version of this article was originally published in the C77 Design Daily, Vol. 1, Issue 2, on May 17, 2014.
There was a kind of carnival atmosphere at the opening party of Reclaim 3: Carte Blanche—the inaugural exhibition at the new Colony co-op / showroom space—which was Jean Lin and Jennifer Krichels' goal, perhaps, when they commissioned the three wildly disparate interactive installations from Brooklyn's Fort Makers, The Principals and UM Project by Françoise Chambard. The sheer spectacle of the work belies the fact that proceeds from sales (of related objects and accessories) goes towards charities of the designers' choice, and, if nothing else, it's a refreshing change of pace from the more commercial shows.
The Principals' "Space Trash," pictured at top, was a personal favorite, although you really have to see (and try) it in person to get what it's about. More on each project below.
- UM Project presents "Maypole," an ensemble of 16 new LED lamps based on the acclaimed Craft System series, connected around a center pole by colorful cords and synchronized together. All proceeds from UM Project's fundraising will be donated to the High School of Art and Design in New York City. UM Project's installation is made possible with the generous support of Acces I/O, BAGGU, Color Cord Company, Dolan & Traynor, Lenovo, Nooka, and Parallel Development.
- Inspired by the fight to cure Multiple Sclerosis, The Principals will present "Space Trash: An Exploration into Bionic Architecture". Space Trash is a room-scale interactive installation. Using myoelectric sensors, participants can control the shape of the room by clenching their muscles, turning the space into a truly bionic architecture—the first of its kind. In conjunction with the exhibit, The Principals will release a special concrete coaster set inspired by the installation. Proceeds of sales will go to support the National MS Society.
- Fort Makers will create Totem Toss at the Puffy Forest, a carnival-inspired installation that encompasses a game designed to tempt participants to try their hands at winning large, abstractly painted pillows custom designed by the studio. Proceeds of the game will benefit Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
Indeed, these admittedly artsy pieces are like something you might see in Milan's Zona Tortona or Ventura Lambrate, which is precisely why they seem exceptional in the largely market-driven context of NYCxDesign. It's a bit of a shame that Colony is accessed through a nondescript stairwell on Canal Street, since Lin has succeeded in creating an airy, inviting gallery space just a few doors down from the recently shuttered Pearl Paint. Even so, the fact that it's a hidden gem only adds to its appeal.
Those of you in NYC have one more day to catch Reclaim 3: Carte Blanche at Colony, 324 Canal St., 2nd Floor, before it closes tomorrow, Friday, May 23.