In addition to sharing an etymological root with the word "salvation," the notion of "salvage" also connotes wreckage; specifically, an effort to recover that which might be lost in the face of disaster. Brooklyn's Uhuru, for one, has long sought to revive serviceable materials in furniture form, and we weren't surprised to see them among the designers who participated in Sawkill Lumber's 12×12 exhibition during New York Design Week this year.
Photo of Fire Island by Daniel Moyer
Uhuru is just one of the two dozen designers revisiting that theme for an forthcoming fundraiser in response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Organized by writer Jennifer Gorsche, DesignerPages Editor-in-Chief Jean Lin and designer Brad Ascalon, Reclaim NYC is true to the spirit of salvage in every sense of the word.New York City's design community is teaming up to raise money for those affected by Superstorm Sandy with an auction of furniture created from materials reclaimed or salvaged after the storm and of pieces inspired by the flooding...
Furniture collectors will have a unique opportunity to take home a piece of the storm while benefitting those most affected by it. More than 20 designers have pledged pieces to the silent auction, the proceeds of which will go to the American Red Cross in Greater New York. Each designer is bringing a unique take on Sandy and its aftermath with pieces ranging from tables and chairs to lighting fixtures to art objects. Some designers have plans to explore themes of the storm in future work as well.
We had a chance to catch up with Gorsche and Ascalon, who gladly provided a sneak preview of some of the work that will be at the auction (full list of participants below):
Core77: Let's start from the beginning—how did Reclaim NYC come about?
Jennifer Gorsche: I was running in the park and saw how many trees had been damaged. The wood was being hauled away and I wondered if it would be possible for some designers to use it. I called Jean Lin, my good friend and Designer Pages editor and chief, to talk about the idea. We talked with Brad Ascalon about it too, and started reaching out to NY-based designers. The response was really positive and though the timing of the event ultimately didn't allow for large pieces of downed trees to be used (because of curing time involved) the designers have been very creative in addressing the theme of reclamation.
Brad Ascalon: As Jen mentioned, she and Jean reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in participating. Because I was so into the idea, the discussion ended with me wanting to be involved in the organization of the project alongside Jen and Jean.
Brad Ascalon - "I Lovey NY"
Teaser of UM Project's work
How is the NYC design community making out after the storm? I know that many designers have studios in Zone A [which was submerged under upwards of 10 feet of water], namely Red Hook and the Navy Yard...
JG: I think everybody in the design community has been affected or knows someone who has been affected. The community is pulling together to help those that lost equipment and work. François Chambard of UM Project has asked that one of his pieces be raffled to benefit Token, who lost all of the fabrication equipment in their Red Hook studio. [Ed. Note: Check out our Studio Visits with UM Project and Token for more info.]
UM Project - "Après"
UM Project - "Après"
Daniel Moyer - "High and Dry" table
Do you happen to know where the designers have been sourcing their materials? Or have you been helping them in finding salvaged materials?
JG: Designers have been creative. For example, Daniel Moyer found cedar on Fire Island for his "High and Dry" table, Joe Doucet used water bottles left over from the storm to cast his sculptures, Lindsey Adelman used reclaimed tree branches for her Stick-Light, and Suzanne Tick is creating a textile treatment for a 1966 Richard Schultz chaise that was on the roof of her studio during the storm.
BA: I sourced my reclaimed wood from the oldest lumber yard in America in Lumberville, PA.
Lindsey Adelman - "Stick-Light"
Are you still accepting submissions?
JG: Due to limited space and the desire to display more than 30 beautiful pieces appropriately in the Ligne Roset showroom, we have had to stop accepting donations from designers. The response has been incredible though and I think Reclaim NYC could be a platform for other fundraisers in the future.
BA: If we can create this platform, as Jen mentioned, we can open the doors to many more submissions in the future, and for many great causes.
Daniel Michalik / DMFD
Lastly, how can design and designers facilitate, influence or otherwise support the rebuilding process in the long run?
JG: The design community is a good example of how creative collaborations can result in real-world solutions. We see architects and designers come up with meaningful solutions in other parts of the world after disasters, like Hurricane Katrina or the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and in communities where there are ongoing needs, like affordable housing. I think in this case too designers have an opportunity to address rebuilding and ways in which the city can be more prepared for natural disasters in the future.
BA: I think the design community wants to participate in these types of projects more often, and many in the design community can't donate money or time as easily as they can do what they do best, being creative. So if we're able to raise money and build awareness through the design talents of New York, it's a win-win.
The full list of participating designers:
Kevin Michael Burns
155 Wooster St
New York, NY 10012
Wednesday, December 19, 7–9PM