PSFK’s 2012 Design Week Review: Wire Furniture Is The New Wood

PSFK’s 2012 Design Week Review: Wire Furniture Is The New Wood

We round-up the most interesting themes and designs from this year's International Contemporary Furniture Festival and the surrounding exhibitions.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 16 june 2012

The 2012 New York Design Week provided a comprehensive look at current furniture, lighting and surface material trends with American designers especially occupying the spotlight. The International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center still served as the epicenter but off-site events like Wanted Design, Model Citizens and the NOHO design district were some of the destinations where the really cool stuff was. Next year, the City of New York will launch an initiative to promote Design Week in hopes of attracting more participation from other design disciplines (digital, graphic, product ect.) as well as the general public.  2013 will certainly be an exciting year for design in New York City.

Below are highlights from both the ICFF and sites around of work by designers that represented a strong idea or re-imagined the products we live with new form and function.

Wire furniture was featured in a lot of the stands and off-site exhibitions. Is this a response to people being more transient with how they live or making efficient use of materials in the design process? The examples we saw shared an element of pattern similar to surface meshes found in digital 3d models. Bend, based in Los Angeles debuted a new collection of seating, tables, lighting and accessories all made from wire with a powder-coated finish.

Bludot’s 2012 collection includes a wire base table called Scamp which can be paired with different top surfaces including white marble.

Zorine Pooladian, a Los Angeles based designer presented a wire chair called Silhouette at Wanted Design. While at first glance the overall shape looks simple, the wire visually communicates the structure and adds an element of complexity.

Tweet is an indoor/outdoor stool designed by Ji-in Kim. The bird cutout in the seat becomes an illuminated shape inside the wire base, which resembles a bird cage. When someone sits on the stool the bird disappears and as Kim says is set free.

Mio based in Philadelphia debuted a new furniture customizing service. Customers can apply their own artwork or select from a collection of three illustrators Danielle Rizzolo, David Galletly or Jonathan Bartlett that Mio is currently collaborating with. Mio’s Naked Cabinet and Naked Art Panels can be “dressed” with customer supplied photos, vector art, illustrations or corporate graphics at no extra charge.

Los Angeles based Phase introduced a new series of tables called Keys. Composed of a metal base with inset glass panels which can be user rearranged or updated with different colors.

Another example of an interesting material pairing is the Corliss Chair from Dunn Studio in Providence RI. Paying homage to George Corliss, the founder of the first independently-powered steam engine, the chair fuses an American hardwood base with a painted aluminum back available in either red, white or blue. The chair strikes a balance between the familiar and the innovative.

The Park Ave collection from Søren Rose Studio for De La Espada mixes materials and geography. The project blends influences from scandinavian tradition with New York’s contemporary vibe. Each of the pieces were designed overall to be simple and timeless as well as having an element of unique and unexpected character.

The LAMI chair from Marka Moderna is designed and built in El salvador with local craftsman. The chairs come painted in a variety of striped patterns inspired by vintage race cars.

Jangir Maddadi Design Bureau based in Sweden exhibited their Droid lamp which will catch the eye of any sci-fi fan. LED’s provide illumination through lenses in either the front or back and can be adjusted to produce specific colors.

Sticking with lighting, Roll and Hill created a pop-up showroom in a large storefront in the NOHO design district. An impressive installation of their ‘Endless Straight’ lamp which snaked through the space looked right out of Blade Runner. Bent wire showed up here too forming the structure of their ‘Bluff City’ pendant lights.

Republic of Fritz Hansen debuted the minuscule chair designed by Cecilie Manz with an exhibition of design process materials that created the final product. Two long glass covered tables just inside their showroom entrance contained sketches, models and prototype parts that gave insight into how the chair was developed. Manz’s design combines traditional craftsmanship with industrial production. Structural components of the chair are molded in plastic and the seating shell is upholstered in fabric with a hand stitched leather trim detail that follows the contour of the seat. It is rare that designers show the sketches and prototypes that lead to a final product together. This was a great example of how doing that tells a more complete story about a product.

Speaking of process, Raleigh Denim was invited by Bernhardt Design to bring their vintage sewing equipment to NYC and set up a temporary factory at Wanted Design. During design week, they produced jeans demonstrating the fabric cutting process thru to finished sewing. What was particularly amazing was seeing the skill of the sewers working the decades old machines, none of which were computer controlled.

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