Satellite shows and exhibitions overall were smaller for NYCxDesign 2023. Speaking with some independent show organizers, their responses echoed a similar issue. Just finding a space in NYC to stage is really hard. The real estate industry and landlords seem quite proud of all the empty storefronts they’ve been able to create and maintain across the city.
Here’s an assembled a collection of favorite visits I made during the week. These include an exhibition of commissioned knockoffs at Colony, a technology showcase from Sony and Stellar Works, and an exhibition of antique and contemporary ad-hoc furniture in a former Chinatown medical building.
Photos and Text: Dave Pinter
Isle – Zoë Mowat at Lambert & Fils
NYC-based designer Zoë Mowat debuted the Isle Collection, a modular pendant lighting line for Lambert & Fils. Isle is a suspended light bar supported by a mix of metal and stone blocks. When viewed from a distance, the fixtures appear to magically float in the air. Zoë also snuck a prototype floor speaker in to the show. The adjustable design has a rounded bottom to the cabinet that fits in a metal stand.
Might Delete – American Design Club
Canal Street Market hosted American Design Club’s group show, Might Delete. Designers, artists and makers exhibited reflective pieces with the aim of encouraging visitors to take a self portrait. The title of the show proposes a grading system based on photos that get shared or those that might get deleted. The work in the show ran the gamut from mirrors incorporating hand-made textiles to up-cycled styrofoam packing.
The Knockoff Show – Colony
The Knockoff Show at Colony is a response to the work of independent designers being replicated by large manufacturers, retailers and the hospitality industry without permission or compensation. Participating designer were tasked with creating pieces that referenced a well known historical design object. Chrome Manifold I (after Terje Ekstrom) Erickson Aesthetics is the most blatant replication of the show, reinterpreting the Ekstremchair designed in 1984 as a copy made of painted plastic drain pipe. Applause to Colony for dedicating showroom space to focus on this issue in a creative way. It’s certainly relevant considering the growing tension between AI and creator rights adding another facet to the complexity of protecting design originality.
Heller staged a unique event to launch several new products at their gallery space in Chelsea. Inside the space were a series of mirrored monoliths with the chairs displayed in-between. Standing just to the side offered an infinity view of the pieces. A simple yet pretty cool visual presentation. The new USA-made seating includes Bluff chair by Hlynur Atlason, it’s made of a recycled plastic polyethylene blend but has a fired clay appearance. The Limbo chair, also by Atlason is a three legged lounger with a wrap-around back. Finally the newest is the multi-functional wall rack Swell by Anna Dawson who exhibited the prototype at WantedDesign Manhattan in 2022.
Stay Dream – Stellar Works + Sony
Japanese brands Stellar Works and Sony teamed up to create the most forward looking and sensory exhibition of NYCxDesign. Stay Dream featured seven different combinations of furniture design and technology that previews potential ways living spaces might change in the future. Each of the areas demonstrated new ways we might interact with sound and light.
Beyond Wallpaper used digital projection to augment a Calico wall covering with two landscape schemes. The display could be changed by flipping an hourglass and elements like the moon could be moved with the wave of a coffee mug.
Table and chair settings on the ground floor and downstairs included pendant lighting and sound that reacted to movement. The Feast of Light dining area played a generated piano score as you walked around the table.
Dreamscape featured the BYOBU Bed designed by Sony that consisted several undulating panels partially enclosing the bed. The panel at the foot of the bed served as a projection screen. Speakers inside the upholstered panels delivered an intimate listening experience. Sensors positioned above the bed detected movement and would alter the projected content and sound. To encourage sleep, one clip displayed a swaying field of grass and subtle sounds of sheep would begin if movement on the bed was detected.
Overall it was a very cool exhibition showing creative directions home technology could move beyond the giant flat screen tv and home automation systems.
Taking over a former Chinatown medical building, Marta and Catalog Sale took full advantage of the gritty interior to exhibit historical and contemporary ad-hoc furniture together for Make-Do. The collection featured mostly chairs from a roster of current designers mixed with vintage found furniture dating as far back as the 1850s. The contemporary designers had three days to source materials, plan their design and complete fabrication, staying true to an ad-hoc process. The resulting pieces utilized everything from street finds, CNC scraps and an actual kitchen sink.
While it was nice to see all the finely crafted and precisely manufactured furniture and accessories durning NYCxDesign, Make-Do offered a welcome look at the experimental and spur-of-the-moment possibilities of design.