Wednesday, March 23, 2011



New York is crammed from the first of January to the end of December with conventions and events promoting the design industry. From an abundance of designer show houses to the gift fairs to the showroom openings there is always something to attend and some source of new inspiration to absorb. That’s why I was so excited to find out my calendar had me in New York at the same time as the Architectural Digest Show. The show has grown since I first saw it ten years ago. It now consumes the entire Pier 94. The only problem with rapid growth is it frequently engenders a decline in intent and quality. This year the quality was there but the intent of the show seems to have shifted from introducing new ideas and talent to going where the big bucks are in the major, established big vendors. I know their presence insures a bigger purse but these are the guys I can see any time at their numerous showrooms and retail outlets. Still if you dug deep enough into the “made” section you could come away with some excellent finds. Here are a few of the artists who caught my eye.

Dan Levy’s ceramic tabletop and lamps have left me breathless for the past twenty years. His designs are timeless, simple and elegant. There has always been a hint of the Asian aesthetic in his work that references their classic understatement. His quadrille series has been around for a long time but it remains a perfect example of proportion and harmony both in its shapes and color palette. His new platinum and gold-rimmed tabletop are so finely elegant they remind me of perfectly cracked eggshells. It was Dan’s tabletop that guests ate off of at Oprah Winfrey’s fiftieth birthday party.

The delicate craftsmanship of Appelson Design Studios woodworking was perfection in technique and design. Each piece was like a perfectly woven basket made from walnut reeds. You could feel the love of materials in each bed and console. The American roots of the Arts and Crafts movement were a perfect inspiration for their work

Ergonomics, comfort and ingenuity all come together in the chairs and ottomans designed by Spinnaker. It was the use of vintage sails on the backs of their chairs that drew me into their booth. I was initially reticent to being coaxed into sitting down in one but once in the chair I didn’t want to get out. I just wanted a gin and tonic and the sea breeze gently blowing through my thinning hair. I have no idea of the cost of these chairs but I’ve got to think that whatever the price, it’s worth it.

Skatemoderne has developed a material that mimics shagreen but without having to kill any animals in the making. It’s an eco-friendly product that’s as durable as nails, or so they say. They are using it on their own furniture and in wallcovering but you can order it on your own custom designs. It had me fooled. I thought it was the real thing.


Julius Shulman
Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, CA, 1960
Represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery, NYC

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