ICFF+WantedDesign | NYCxDesign 2023



The annual headline event of NYCxDesign is the combined International Contemporary Furniture Fair(ICFF) and WantedDesign Manhattan. Both shows are still in recovery and rebuilding mode following the pandemic, with several new components added in 2023 to help fill out the program. Following the demise of the Stationary Show which used to run concurrently at Javits in NYC, ICFF moved to the more spacious upstairs level. Sadly both shows got kicked back down to the basement this year with its lower ceilings and overall terrible lighting.

At the back of the hall within the yellow walled area that defined WantedDesign, there was good energy and the usual mix of curated design offerings, student work and Launchpad prototypes. The surrounding outside aisles of ICFF reflected a fair that desperately needs to evolve beyond the old corporate trade show format. There’s signs that’s already beginning to happen with WantedDesign founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat now serving as brand directors for both shows.

Photos and Text: Dave Pinter

The Crossroads

A new addition for 2023 is The Crossroads exhibit featuring furniture, lighting and accessories by emerging and established American designers. It’s a component long missing from ICFF. The display was produced by NYC-based Rockwell Group and curated by Pei-Ru Keh of Wallpaper* magazine.

The work selected to fit into two contemporary Americana-inspired categories, the great outdoors and the American home. Pieces set against a panoramic sky backdrop expressed naturalistic forms or made use of natural materials in new ways. The other vignettes arranged in the area offered a look at contemporary American furniture design; over-scaled geometry, modern craftsmanship and pragmatic aesthetics.

WantedDesign Manhattan

Since the relocation to Javits center a few years ago, WantedDesign has continued to fine tune the show’s content and layout. For 2023 there was a brand new lounge space including custom produced seating by Ligne Roset and lighting by David Weeks Studio on Wanted’s signature yellow hue.

Some standout booths that caught my eye were thehighkey’s 3D knitted light fixture prototypes. Elegant industrial furniture from Bestcase. The School of Architecture, Art and Design (EAAD)
Tecnológico de Monterrey with a student project creating easy-to-move furniture with bungee cords and ratchet straps. Eco-solidarity’s typically dense presentation of design explorations including a table made of cast concrete and up-cycled plastic waste.


While still smaller that pre-pandemic, ICFF included more exhibitors this year versus 2022. Gone however was ICFF Studio, a long-running showcase of design prototypes curated by Bernhardt Design. There were other tweaks to the format of the show including finally organizing exhibitors by categories on the floorplan.

Three of my favorite exhibitors were the debut of Álbum, a metal furniture collection from Mexico. The launch collection includes a half-dozen elegantly designed pieces that I’d like to categorize as having a soft industrial aesthetic. All of the pieces are include nice design considerations like the folding chairs with a subtle bend to back slats that improve comfort and avoid catching garments.

Model No. furniture exhibited 3d printed seating, lighting and planters made from plant-based and biodegradable plastics. These pieces didn’t shout 3D PRINTED first as a technology experiment and instead caught my eye with their desirable design. The environmentally-focused back story of the company is really interesting and a case study for the rest of the industry.

Finally Brazil-based Sollos exhibited a selection of their furniture including a grouping of organically shaped low tables. There’s some really beautiful pieces shown with a balanced blend of thoughtful engineering and nature-inspired forms.

DIFFA by Design

Another new addition for 2023 was the relocation of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS event to Javits. DIFFA grants funds to organizations providing treatment, education, and assistance for people impacted by HIV/AIDS, homelessness, hunger, and mental health issues. The show included a number of booths created by collaborations between designers and manufacturers.