Thursday, March 31, 2016


There's always been a struggle between the Architectural Digest Show and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Both focus on the design industry, both combine high-profile manufacturers with up and coming one-man shops, both work with an international assortment of vendors, and, unfortunately, they both end up being uneven shows.
The Architectural Digest Show was held from March 17th-20th at the Piers in Manhattan. The show differentiates itself from ICFF in that it's more consumer directed.
The layout of the Piers is in an upside down "T" making three wings. One wing is devoted almost entirely to appliances with all the big guys taking up the majority of space. It's a consumer high-point as do-it-yourselfers flock to Sub-Zero and Viking to see the newest upgrades in kitchen wine cabinets and self-cleaning griddles. My favorite is Smeg, if only for their name. Their claim to fame isn't so much around technology as it is around retro design.
Bathrooms weren't left out of the mix in this wing of practical necessities. I loved the look of this stone free-standing bathtub but a comfortable soak looked as if it would be difficult to obtain with the straight angles and its defiance of ergonomics.
Art, furniture and accessories populated the other two arms of the Pier. It was a mixed bag going back and forth between genius and ridiculous.
On the side of genius was the ever-present Wud furniture company. They are masters of flawless design and construction. Their invisible welds and meticulous attention to detail are hallmarks of their refined product line.
On the other side of the coin the show went to extremes offering the quirky with armoires dressed up as butlers in  tuxedos and automobile grills masquerading as bars.
Making a standout statement doesn't have to be kooky to get attention. Kim Markel has spent the last few years developing a recycled product out of discarded eyeglasses, soda bottles and cafeteria trays. Mixed with resin on a seventy to thirty percent ratio the pastel chairs, side table s and accessories are softly charming in their imperfections. I can't wait to see how Kim expands her product line and her color palette in the next rendition of her jellybean delicious artistry.
If you were looking for whimsical it was there in spades or more like magic marker with the booth from Flat Vernacular.
A wallpaper and furniture company their space populated with colorists dressed in white paint suits and pink sneakers mounted scaffolding and worked and worked on coloring in the black and white coloring book wallpaper.
Splattered around the booth were upholstered pieces from their Dondi Collection making a real splash. The whole booth was shear entertainment and inspiration for anyone willing to move to the wild side.
If you were really looking for the wild side a stop at Forsyth specializing in natural hides was worth the trip. The aesthetic here was well honed as long as you can get past the source of its beauty. I don't necessarily have an issue with natural hides. I've used suede fabric on a number of projects so it would be hypocritical of me to condemn their product but I understand how some could find their source repugnant. If you can get by your opposition to a hide company go to their website: and sign up for their Saturday marnin cartoons. It's a graphic and design treat that goes well beyond their product.
If you looked hard and sifted and winnowed through all of the lighting, there were treasures to be found. Luke Lamp showed off their bendable lighting, a fixture you could leave as a linear as snake or twist into a knotted chandelier.
When I think of Hubbardton Forge my image of them is more wrought iron, arts and crafts and outdoor lighting even though I've used them for some of the most contemporary applications in former projects. That's why one of my favorite finds at the Architectural Digest Show was Hubbardton Forge's Link collection of glass and chrome pendants. I thought this low voltage fixture was stunning. I'm hoping it also comes as sconce.
ABC Carpet and Home had its usual eclectic booth but there was a lighting fixture of mini bulbs that projected a pastel rainbow. You'd need to have a simple wall to project on but the effect was so playful and unique I'm dreaming up ideas of how and where to use it.
I began with pointing out that I thought the show was uneven and I still feel that way. There was an emphasis on putting out design that was forced outside the box and not in a good way.
There were too many artists and vendors trying to draw attention by over embellishing or forcing the imagination by turning objects that had no need into being something other than what they were intended to be.
I far more appreciated those designers that kept to their design principles like Vetro Vero Glass turning out exquisite examples of great design through shape, color and material.

Star of Bethlehem (#98), 1997
Masatomo Kuriya, photographer
Represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery

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