ICFF 2011: Five American Designers On The Rise

A coast-to-coast look at the work of young American furniture designers from the 2011 ICFF.

The first initial of ICFF may stand for International but this year’s show was well represented by American design talent. We’ve selected five coast-to-coast examples of young designers who collectively represent a view of the current state of contemporary American furniture design. Their work results from a balanced consideration of function, craftsmanship, utility, and style.

Beverly Hills based Nolen Niu debuted several new pieces at the show. Among them was the Fold Bed designed to essentially ship flat. The panels that make up the frame clip together with no tools needed. Niu’s motivation to create the Fold Bed came after a survey of others on the market which all seemed complicated to assemble. Coordinating side tables with concealed drawers can be added. All of Nolen Niu’s furniture is made in America.

Phase Design hailing from Los Angeles was founded over a decade ago by self taught designer Reza Feiz. Phase has an extensive back catalog of furniture, lighting and accessories. New at the show were a technically complex sectional sofa created from angular shapes. The angles and smaller size allow the sofa to adapt to smaller spaces. Their collection of stools featured a twin seat model which Feiz hasn’t seen offered elsewhere. All Phase furniture is produced in the USA.

Cleveland, Ohio based Objeti (a Slovenian word meaning embrace) has steadily been building a solid portfolio of unique furniture and lighting. Objeti products often include a surprise functional twist. A new table shown at ICFF features a top with panels finished in solid colors on one side and natural wood on the other. The panels can be flipped and rearranged to alter the look of the top. A new shelving unit doubles as a room divider. Perforated metal panels slide through slots in each of the shelves and are held in place with wood pegs. The slot pattern in each shelf allows for the panels to be arranged in a variety of ways. Objeti works with local craftsman to produce all their furniture and lighting.

UM Project (which stands for users & makers) is the Brooklyn-based furniture design company run by Francois Chambard.  UM is inspired by old-world ateliers and produces work that bridges traditional craftsmanship with digital precision. New at the show is the UM 02 hybrid stool and table which UM is now offering covered in fabric. The piece is designed to function differently depending on how it is oriented, tipped up is a stool, laying down is a bench and table. Also introduced is the L.U.M. Lamp sporting either a satin brass or polished copper shade with a contrasting bright solid color interior. All UM Project furniture is produced in the US.

Providence, Rhode Island-based Studio Dunn creates beautifully hand crafted hardwood furniture. Their design goals focus on functionality, simplicity and a contemporary yet timeless character. Debuted at ICFF was the ‘Heiress Collection’ who’s  pieces are aptly names after heiresses of Rhode Island – Tessie Chair, Doris Dining Table, Alletta Mirror, and the Gloria Side Table. The Tessie Chair in particular displays gorgeous craftsmanship and looks like a modern heirloom. We also were drawn to the pulley lights which could be a good solution to apartment dwellers who can’t tear into the walls to run new electricity for ceiling lights.

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