Design Week: ICFF Alternatives - Design Bureau

John D'Aponte

Debra Folz

Emily Rothschild

CYMK Cabinet


David Trubridge's Seed-System Kiset Lights

Pierre Dubois of Les Heritiers

Olivier Dollé

Broken Off Broken Off

Design Week: ICFF Alternatives

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

As ICFF kicks into high gear this week in NYC, so do a number of satellite design fairs showcasing the works and wares of hundreds of talented international designers. Model Citizens and the American Design Club both started three years ago as an alternative to the ICFF, which many designers found prohibitively expensive at the time. Now, having established a reputation as a serious outlet for independent design, they've become destinations for the cool alternative.

Model Citizens NYC

Model Citizens has grown to include 90 designers from Holland to DUMBO. Model founder Mika Braakman hopes to track the trajectory of these individuals who will no doubt be trend leaders a decade from now. Here are some of our faves:

1. Brooklyn-based John D’Aponte playfully weaves history into his designs, recycling vintage textiles into bags and luggage.

2. Boston-based artist and designer Debra Folz designs and manufactures contemporary furniture and tabletop accessories. Her "Whole Story Photo Albums" are a hybrid of traditional bookbinding and contemporary engineering that allow them to stand independently but also expand.

3. Industrial designer Emily Rothschild, whose work has been displayed at Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, has winged jewelry and flip-book necklaces on display.

4. Brooklyn-based designer Niels Cosman showcases his handcrafted furnishings. His CYMK Cabinet features highly decorative doors composed of 200 hand-cut and kiln-fused glass hexagons. He is also an alumni and adjunct at RISD’s Glass Department.

5. Most inspiring were Mike Seto and David Kim of Click Boom Pow, whose holistic design approach focuses on user experience and cultural impact. Their NRM Project (New Role Models) comprises benches that have been painted by a select group of artists, including Milton Glaser, and installed throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. The idea is to give New Yorkers a place to sit and reflect this summer and inspire others to donate good design.

6. There is also a pop-up store filled with items selected by industrial designer Tiffany Burnette.

Wanted Design Fair

Just a few blocks from the ICFF is another new independent event, The Wanted Design Fair. Sprawled out over most of the first floor of the iconic Terminal Building, it looks less like an independent art fair and more like a well styled showroom (with a bar). Founders Claire Pijoulat and Odile Hainaut have brought their French sensibility and 29 established designers together to create a stunning event. From lighting designers like Les HeritiersFrancois Brument, and Triode, to furniture makersTabisso and Olivier Dolle, the French genius was well represented. There was also the dramatic lighting of David Trubridge, whose SEED-system lights pack flat and expands to all sizes (including floor to ceiling, upon request). The modular furnishings of New York architect Ali Tayar made up the library, thanks to New York-based design group Lerival, who represents Tayar and other architects. Finally the Whyte Label by Joe Doucet was on display, a new collection of bespoke furniture and objects that pushed the boundaries of concept and craftsmanship.

The idea of concept was very much on everyone’s mind, as a few of the participants at Wanted, including Doucet, have also worked to create The Brokenoff Brokenoff Exhibition in tribute to their friend, designer Tobias Wong. Blurring the boundary between conceptual art and design, Wong's work questioned the value system of objects and the pretensions of designers with wit and satire. Wong launched onto the scene in 2001 with "This is a Lamp" — a take on the famous Philippe Starck chair. Ten years later he was gone. Doucet and other celebrated NY designers such as Brad Ascalon, Stephen Burks, Josee Lepage, Frederick McSwain, Marc Thorpe, Dror Benshetrit, Todd Bracher, and David Weeks spoke in a round table about their tribute exhibition, sharing their favorite Wong moments with the crowd, a rare insight into the personality of the young designer.  The group had been working together with Wong in 2010 to create an exhibition of their own, just weeks before Wong’s tragic death. “When we started meeting and talking about this exhibition, we weren’t sure what the outcome would be,” Thorpe says. “Now we know this is the point; this is the outcome.” “He wanted us to get  uncomfortable,” Doucet says.

Text by Alexandra Polie


Tagged with: