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A review of the 2003 design fair in New York City
By Aylin Sayek
For the 15th time, Jacobs K Javits Convention
Center welcomed design fans with all the necessary ingredients:
great design, drinks, education and a little shopping (Butter had
a vending machine at the bookstore). With all those seminars and
offsite events competing for attention during the four-day fair,
everyone did their best to be everywhere.
This year, we noticed an emphasis on designs that are affordable
and approachable. In particular there were many instances of furniture
designed to ship flat, with assembly done on-site by the consumer.
In general, these designs were clean and clear, with an honest display
of connections, and materials. Manufacturers seem to be paying particular
attention to maximizing efficiency in the production, storage, shipping
and selection of their wares. This trend mirrors overall directions
in marketing and design, reacting to consumers' desire for simplicity,
sincerity and transparency in products and services. Some of our
favorite items are highlighted below.
Knocked Us Down
A brand new company debuting their entire self in ICFF was Material
Designer Christopher Douglas wants us to flatten our furniture and
tuck it in the closet--taking itout whenever we need it. His line
of collapsible furniture, the Knock-Down / Drag-Out line, includes
tables, a chair and a screen. These temporary furniture pieces look
just as well as permanent ones. The table with the slot-together
design seats up to eight, in case of a dinner emergency. The Knock-Down/Drag-Out
Jr. is the coffee version of the clever dining table. The Flipper
screen has circular cutouts, which can be locked horizontally to
serve as shelves, or closed for more privacy. Coming soon: the Knock-Down/Drag-Out
Fold along the
This year's furniture awardwent to Bludot (http://www.bludot.com),
the Minnesota designers who vowed to bring us “design that
we could actually afford.” Their clearly functional and elegantly
modern furniture collection includes the smart 2d:3d line. “From
flat to fabulous in no time,” the sheets of metal fold into
magazine racks, CD holders, coat racks and trays. The metal origami
line ships flat in the award-winning packaging, and you do the assembly.
Bludot also showed their Eames-like Buttercup chair, due August,
with all the design stages from the form model to the prototype.
Utility, affordability and modernity, all in a blu package.
In the midst of changeable furniture, one student’s chair
caught our instant attention. Art Center (www.artcenter.edu/furniture)
student Shawn-Ian Bruce
says his Flip chair has multiple personality disorder. Flip it and
it becomes a lounge chair, flip it again and it becomes a magazine
rack. Flip can become five different pieces of furniture with this
one simple action.
Other young designers from Art Center were also having fun with
design. Sun Han’s Fun seating, a two-seater which seats four
when the cushions are separated, offers a “rocking and swiveling”
Their name was
Last year, Lolah (http://www.lolah.com)
stole our hearts with the Swell table, Cache bench and all those
yacht-inspired designs. This year, once again, it was all about
water. We loved their water coolers and Glide chair. The Tower water
dispenser and Spout water pump cover the ubiquitous yet ugly office
water coolers, and brings great design to our daily lives. Glide
chair, with its comfortable and smooth motions, took us away from
the noisy fair ground to a serene summer day on the porch. The yaghting
reference? The white seat is made of fiberglass, supported by a
a little bit of nuf…
Nuf’s Grid modular table system consists of identical folded
aluminum sheets, where the user assembles the pieces together to
make a coffee table or other configurations. The pieces come in
four colors: red, yellow, beige and white, giving freedom to create
one's own custom Grid table. Nuf’s other designs included
the organic, flower-like Ori and the bending trash can, Straw. Nuf
is “fun” spelled backwards.
Pause for a second
Welcoming our very tired selves at the press center were the canary
yellow stools by Designframe (http://www.designframe.com).
Probably the simplest designed booth of the ICFF, Designframe presented
us with the lightest of all collapsible stools, Pause. Like our
other collapsible favorites, Pause also folds up for storage, folds
open for action, all in a second. Made entirely of recycled corrugated
cardboard, Pause comes in both natural and colors.
Behind the Music
One of the fair's most lyrical chaises came from Ensconce (http://www.ensconcedesign.com),
a lighting design company from San Francisco. Designed by Robert
Dombarski, the Cello chair wastes no material. The complicated-looking
chaise is basically three identical rings, cut from the same piece
of wood. The knot-like structure of the chaise joins the cello-shaped
pieces and the fabric together in a way such that no hardware is
Change is Good…
Joshua Howe of Parsons School of Design (http://productdesign.parsons.edu)
makes us think we’re all lighting designers with his Onute
lighting system, comprised of “nutes” that can be rearranged
easily. These individual light sources with magnetic bases float
over wall studs or a metal rod, at your desire. Another young Parsons
designer who lets the user play and change their furniture is Sara
Michael Miller. “reForm” is a piece of stretchy material
that transforms any object you are bored of seeing, stretching over,
covering, and reimagining.
Aylin Sayek is a design writer and regular contributor to
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