CONTEMPORARY FURNITURE FAIR
IS SMALLER THIS YEAR, BUT STILL
AN INCUBATOR FOR NEW IDEAS
By Lissa Wyman
NEW YORK -- Even the heady word of ultra-haute contemporary design has been affected by the world-wide recession. This year's International Contemporary Furniture Fair, held May 16 to 19 at New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center, did not have as many exhibitors as in the past. And many long-time exhibitors pared down on the size of their booths.
But those economic realities had little effect on the excitement that always accompanies this annual show. For many companies and individual product designers, the ICFF is a showcase of their talents and imagination more than an attempt to sell wares in volume. It's about exposure, not about dollars.
With a few exceptions, the target audience for ICFF exhibitors is architects, designers and independent design-oriented retailers.
The ICFF also provides a platform for young designers coming into the business. These creative young people are here to strut their stuff, the more outrageous, the better.
Participation by rug companies at the ICFF, like other categories, was also lower than in past years. Approximately a dozen rug specialists exhibited at the show.
Here is an overview of what was happening at the ICFF this year:
Michael Pourvakil, right, president of Weavers Art, Toronto-based retailers, with Ali Nikrooz, US representative for Cadrys Designed Rugs,Sydney, Australia. Cadrys was making its US debut with the Florence Broadhurst collection of rugs. Broadhurst was a legendary Australian entertainer and designer who influenced the worlds of fashion, art, textiles and interiors from the 1920's through the 1960's. The rugs are hand knotted in Nepal of wool, silk, hemp or nettle and retail prices range from $82 to $120 sq. ft.
Emma Gardner, right, with Christian Leighton of Leighton Design Group, Rochester, NY. Emma Gardner has added a new dimension to the company with bold designs for the Wendell Castle collection of fine furniture.
Detail of new rug from Emma Gardner's 2009 collection. Best known for her vivid colors, Gardner said she is now working with more subdued palettes of greys, blues, mauves and neutrals. "Of course, if a clients want to have them in hot pink and orange, that's fine, too," said Gardner. The rugs are hand-knotted in Nepal of wool and silk.
While several exhibitors at the ICFF were showing in smaller spaces, Rug Art pulled out all the stops in this custom-made booth.
Here is the gang from Rug Art, the Ft. Lauderdale-based importer of custom rugs. From left: Alison Harrington, principal and designer Sigal Sasson; president Vidal Sasson; Lital Sasson, and Frank Driscoll. The rugs are designed by Sigal Sasson and made in the company's factory in Nepal of such fibers as wool, wool and matka silk, linen and hemp. A wool and silk 6x9 rug will retail for approximately $7,800.
Fine artist and rug designer Amy Helfand, right, welcomes Matthew Ward, a lighting designer from Philadelphia. Helfand and Ward were classmates at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.
Garland Design from Amy Helfand's new Devotion series. The new collection was based on Helfand's 2008 trip to Nepal. The rugs are made of handspun and pot-dyed Tibetan wool and Chinese silk and hand knotted in Nepal.
Barbara Barran, right, president of Classic Rug introduced the new Ottoman collection at the ICFF, Bues dominated the palette this Spring for Barran. She's joined here by Betty Ginsburg of Betty Ginsburg Interiors, Pittsburgh, and Nancy Barsatti of Nancy Barsatti Interiors with offices in both Pittsburgh and new York.
From Classic Rug Collection's new Ottoman collection,in Iznik desing. The rugs are inspired by the mystique of Istanbul. The custom rugs are hand-knotted in Nepal in a variety of fibers, including wool, wool and silk, nettle and silk, silk and hemp. Retail prices range from $73 to $295 sq. ft. in silk construction.
Here's a toothsome twosome: Bennett Bean, left, and Elizabeth Rand from the Bennett Bean Studio. Bennett Bean is a noted ceramic artist. Textile designer Elizabeth Rand used the ceramic as the basis for the rug designs. The rugs will make their debut this Summer in a limited edition collection on sale at the shop at New York's new Museum of Arts & Design. Hand-knotted in Nepal of wool and silk, the rugs will retail for $5,200 in 5x7 size.
Here's the aptly-named Peppy Greenberg of The Rug Fanatic, a custom rug company based in New York that featured the designs of Kassandra Geddes.
Art Blue design from The Rug Fanatic, where Kassandra Geddes is a company principal and chief designer. It is Hand tufted in China and made of New Zealand wool. Suggested retail is $2,560 in 5 x 8. The Rug Fanatic made its debut showing at this year's ICFF.
Legendary retailer Judy George, second right, founder Domain, one of the first lifestyle home furnishings chains, stops to say hello to old chum and fellow-legend, textile designer Liora Manne, second left. On the left is industry consultant Mitch Bobkin and on the right is Charles Peck, president of Trans-Ocean Imports. Part of the fun at the ICFF is running into familiar faces embarking on new adventures. George has a new concept for home retailing that will launch in 2010.
Liora Manne's Loope Crochet Stripe is a textural geometric design with crochet applique. Made of acrylic fiber, hand made in China. Suggested retail is $350 in 5x8.
New exhibitor Freek was showing a funky-freeky indoor-outdoor shag for pool and patio installations. We think the name is lovely, and not just because it's named after owner Freek Verhoeven. Freek tells us that The Netherlands, "Freek" is a common nickname for Frederick. The broadloom shag is made in Holland of nylon and polyethylene. This is the company's initial launch in the US.
FUN WITH FURNITURE
Kiyomi Yamamoto poses with a sweeping chaise lounge that is covered in authentic Japanese kimono and obi fabric from Kyoto, Japan. The company is Kimono New York.
Texture, texture, texture. That was the key word for textiles being shown at the ICFF . London-based Anne Kyyro Quinn designs and produces bespoke acoustic wall coverings made from wool felt. Target audience is public buildings such as hotels, corporate centers and libraries, where acoustics and aesthetics go hand in hand.
Can you guess what this is? Easy. It's a shower ejector. Very ecologically sound, too. After you take a three-minute shower, these little plastic doo-hickies fill with air and tickle you out of the stall. I think I'll take two. Designed by Elisabeth Buecher of UK-based Textile Futures.
Multi-faceted chest from Boca do Lobo of Rio Tinto, Portugal. This jewel-like piece reminds us of an amethyst as big as The Ritz. While purple is a much-talked about hot color, we saw it at the ICFF primarily as an accent with grey.
We saw LOTS of gray at this year's ICFF show. Adding to the surface interest, many of the products at the exhibition also featured multiple plays on texture. This sofa is from Bocci, a Canadian company.
Johnny Swing, a Vermont-based artisan, gets comfy on his hand-made chaise lounge made entirely of individually-soldered US quarter coins. Retail price is $72,000.
Thousands of quarters are soldered together to make the Johnny Swing chaise. He also uses half-dollars and mason jars to make the indoor-outdoor furniture.