NYCxDesign brought the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and Wanted Design together in the Javits Center once again for the annual design festival. Hundreds of galleries, showrooms, schools, and cultural institutions held events across the city, with concentrated clusters in areas like Soho, the New York Design Center in Manhattan, and Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The work on display ran the full gamut of artistic styles and approaches with collections and exhibitions highlighting established talent (ICFF) as well as emerging creative work (Wanted Design) all under one roof. Under the guidance of Wanted Design cofounders Claire Pijoulat and Odile Hainaut, the fair felt a little more crowded, a little more lively, and as interesting as ever in 2023.
After wandering the halls of the Javits Center and the streets of New York we picked some favorites from the week to highlight:
The Female Design Council and Asian American Pacific Islander Design Alliance scheduled an exhibition featuring the work of 20 female AAPI artists and designers at fashion brand 3.1 Phillip Lim in Noho. The exhibition was organized around the theme of reflection.
The Crossroads at ICFF
The Crossroads, perhaps the best exhibit at ICFF and WantedDesign Manhattan, was conceived by Creative Director David Rockwell and Editor/Co-Curator Pei-Ru Keh. This immersive installation, inspired by the great outdoors and the American home, showcased the breadth and diversity of American design. The exhibit, which included a communal area, an object gallery, and a casual seating arrangement, invited visitors to explore and reflect on the evolution of American design, from practical solutions to artistic, narrative-rich pieces.
Galerie May at the Invisible Collection Townhouse
The Invisible Collection announced the opening of a permanent home on the Upper East Side of New York City— in a classic townhouse on 24 East 64th Street. The space housed a selection of exceptional furniture and collectible pieces from contemporary design stars, serving as a cultural hub for design aficionados and art collectors. Designed in partnership with Olivier Garcé & Clio Dimofski, the 1,752-square-foot space featured simple geometries and natural materials that complemented the unique furniture pieces and objects on show.
Stellar Works & Son
Stellar Works and Sony’s Creative Center unveiled “STAYDREAM – a surreal reality,” transforming the Stellar Works showroom into an immersive, sensorial blend of indoor and outdoor elements. The collaboration showcased innovative designs and technological advancements, aiming to seamlessly merge technology, craft, entertainment, and hospitality.
Nanimarquina’s NYC Flagship Opening
The newly inaugurated Nanimarquina NYC Showroom showcased the brand’s expanding collection of contemporary rugs and accessories from renowned designers like Ronan Bouroullec, Begüm Cânâ Özgür, and Matthew Hilton.
For Use at Sculpture Space NYC
The “For Use” exhibit presented by Sculpture Space NYC showcased functional ceramic design and featured works from 38 established and emerging creators from around the world. The wide array of works included ceramic furniture, functional vessels, lighting, and jewelry. The exhibit spotlighted the creations of designers such as Harry Allen, Andrea Koeppel, Christopher Russell, Graham Marks, and Colleen Carlson.
Furniture isn’t often described as adorable, but the Bao poufs by the AAPI, woman-owned Alda Ly Architecture immediately brought forth such affection. “The details of this collection are important. We wanted the design to be impactful both at first glance and also up close, so we explored ideas for decorative detail options that could provide visual interest at a smaller scale,” explains Tania Chau, director of interior design at Alda Ly Architecture.
The Onna Collection by Swell Studio
The Onna Collection, a new creation from Swell Studio, is an embodiment of two intersecting circles or columns, drawing its inspiration from Italian architecture and design. Designer Mike White, inspired by his observation of the rosy-hued Breccia Pernice stone during a trip to Italy, has incorporated it into the collection along with steel and white oak, showcasing a dedication to the use of raw materials and mastery of craftsmanship.
Snake Eyes by Egg Collective
“Snake Eyes,” an innovative group exhibition by Egg Collective, features works by Caroline Blackburn, Taylor Kibby, Casey McCafferty, Kiva Motnyk, and Julian Watts, and is in dialogue with a coinciding new collection of designs also titled “Snake Eyes.” Pivoting on the concept of “thing power”—the idea that objects are not inert but possess their own will—the exhibition explores the mystical energy of images, objects, and symbols, intertwining ancient symbols like the snake and the eye with the personal narratives of the featured artists.
Soft Opening: Under the Influence by Lindsey Adelman
New York lighting designer Lindsey Adelman flexed her creative aura into her NoHo studio with “Under the Influence,” a showcase that delves into the enigmatic aspects of the creative process. This installation is a natural progression from the “Soft Opening” presentation she exhibited at Alcova in Milan. The work included one-off designs that bridge the gap between illumination and unexplored territories, featuring an array of items ranging from intimate mobiles to grand, kaleidoscopic chandeliers.
Isle by Lambert & Fils and Zoë Mowat
Lambert & Fils and Zoë Mowat launched Isle, a modular lighting collection with a playful and intimate feel. The series, featuring geometric and organic forms, allows users to construct their personal landscapes with various configurations.
Make-Do, a pop-up exhibition by Catalog Sale and Marta
The “Make Do” exhibition showcased the work of various artists who displayed their designs inspired by a “make do” mindset, reflecting a sense of ingenuity and pragmatic design actions. The show included new and existing works that harnessed elements from the landscape or industrial byproducts. With a focus on overlooked aspects of design, the exhibition featured works by FOS, Gelitin, Lukas Geronimas, Jennie Jieun Lee, Tony Matelli, Kay Sekimachi, and Susana Meza Viramontes.
The Knockoff Show
The Knockoff Show at Colony—the designers’ co-op in New York City—is a unique exhibition where designers have been tasked to draw inspiration from the past and create entirely new works of art. The exhibition showcases a diverse range of inspired pieces, from the minimalist “Slanted Armchair No.1” by A Space and the boro-inspired diptych “River” by Hiroko Takeda. Sarah Sherman Samuel’s sculpture “To Disappear into the Trees,” was inspired by Charlotte Perriand’s classic CP1 sconces.
Other highlights from NYCxDesign Week 2023:
The Future of Food: Brooklyn-based technology design company Smart Design hosted a talk in collaboration with NASA on the future of food. The talk outlined ways in which food technology can prepare people for space travel and for changing conditions on Earth.
MUJI IS: Japanese retail company Muji unveiled an arbor-inspired installation titled “To the Forest of Verbs with ‘MUJI IS’” at The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards. The exhibition, which was previously staged in Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia, offered visitors an immersive experience into Muji’s design ethos and a selection of products from the last 40-plus years. The installation, which was on view through June 4, featured strategically placed paper cylinders, each illuminated with a different Muji product, creating a forest-like effect.
Eco Solidarity: A collaborative initiative by the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC NY), ECO Solidarity returned to the Javits Center to showcase design from nine European countries, focusing on work with empathy and addressing global conditions of human health and well-being. The initiative aimed to reevaluate the roles of designers and architects, offering practical support for individuals and communities affected by environmental disasters, war, and violence, with projects exploring improvements to urban domestic infrastructures, preservation and restoration of natural habitats, and accommodation for the most vulnerable members of the community.
Coarse by Samuel Ross: Friedman Benda presented “COARSE,” the second solo presentation of acclaimed British designer, artist, and creative director Dr. Samuel Ross, marking his first exhibition in New York. Ross, known for his conceptually rigorous approach to industrial materials and his label A-COLD-WALL*, presented his fourth body of work, which was his most layered material exploration to date. The exhibition, which evolved from Samuel’s interest in the historic visual languages of West African furniture, post-industrialized Western culture, modernism, and brutalism, featured six works that represented spaces of commune, community, generosity, and tenderness, linking body, material, meaning, and memory.
Public Access by Furnishing Utopia: Furnishing Utopia, a collective inspired by the simple, community-oriented designs of the Shakers, presented “Public Access,” an exhibition of public-oriented design at the Naval Cemetery Landscape in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, during New York’s design week. Curated by local designer Jean Lee, the exhibition featured 35 projects from the United States, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and nine other nations, selected from an open call put out the previous year. The outdoor projects ranged from bird feeders and seed libraries to benches and community fridges, all made from simple materials, while the indoor portion of the exhibition at Brooklyn gallery and bookshop Head Hi showcased photography and documentation of the projects.
ICFF Editors Awards
ICFF Editors Awards recognized the best and most innovative approaches to design among global exhibitors. With nearly 400 exhibitors participating in ICFF and the show-within-the-show, WantedDesign Manhattan, winners across 13 categories were named by a panel of judges from various design publications. The winners included:
- Accessories: Obakki
- Carpet + Flooring: J.D. Staron
- Kitchen + Bath: Mila International
- Furniture: Sin
- Lighting: Daniel Shapiro
- Seating and Best in Show: Caleb Ferris
- Outdoor: Mexa Design
- Materials/Textiles: Tomma Bloom
- Wallcovering: Affreschi & Affreschi
- Best Booth: Turf
- Body of Work: NJ Roseti
- New Designer: Kim Swift