Friday, September 30, 2016


The New York Design Center celebrated its 90th anniversary on Wednesday evening with a gala event at Marta the new Danny Meyer restaurant located in the Martha Washington hotel. It was an invitation only event for the interior design industry.  Every major designer from across the United States was present to honor the building and more accurately James Druckman, its President and CEO. The building started out as the New York Furniture Exchange in 1926, a 16-story, 500,000 square foot building designed by Ely Jacques Kahn. It catered to  mass-market suppliers: mostly furniture and department stores. The shift to becoming a high-end outlet for designers and architects didn't happen until the 1970's. At that point the building was under the ownership of a pair of partners including Jim Druckman's father. Jim had no intention of following in his father's footsteps. He had graduated law school and began his career as a lawyer but it was relatively soon into his career as a legal practitioner that his father made him an offer he couldn't refuse and Jim began his career in the furniture and design business. By the mid-nineties Jim was raised to the position of president where he has remained.
It's been through Jim's vision and generosity that the NYDC has grown into the preeminent source for high-end furniture and design, but beyond the growth of his own business there's been the growth of so many careers nurtured by a man who deserves all the credit that comes his way. So that evening when the speeches of welcome to the dinner had ended there were hundreds of glasses raised not so much for the building's birthday but for the man who has made the design industry what it is and helped to create the fortunes of so many of us designers.
The following day was the eighth annual What's New What's Next event held at 200 Lex. The event began at two in the afternoon and ran well into the night. Many of the showrooms hosted events with speakers from the design industry coupled with most of the current prominent shelter magazines. Hickory Chair-Pearson-Henredon paired up with House Beautiful Editor-in-Chief, Sophie Donelson, and LA designer Mark Sikes. CF Modern opened up its showroom for a discussion of Living with the Things You Love with designers Daun Curry and Ryan Korban moderated by Elle D├ęcor's design editor, Mieke Ten Have. C&G Media Group moderated a panel discussion on East Coast vs. West Coast design with designers Jay Jeffers, Amy Lau, Thom Filicia and Jeffery Alan Marks. That's just to name a few of the events. In all 7,500 people roamed the sixteen floors of NYDC on that day and night.
One of the last events was held at the New Traditionalists showroom. After a day of highly serious talks the event at the New Traditionalists was a little, well a lot, less serious. There were three sets of design duos with the task of exposing their design differences moderated by Jessica Romm from Domino magazine: Lydia Marks and Lisa Frantz of Marks&Frantz, Lindsay Weiss and Noah Turkus of Weiss Turkus and then us, Rick Shaver and Lee Melahn of Pleasant Living. Our event was billed as a Design Duo Face Off that was more like a game show than a lecture. They had lined us up on six padded barstools and plied us with alcohol that had started flowing very early in the evening. Then they gave us bullhorns and told us to have at it with insults and fighting words appreciated and encouraged.
The one thing they didn't prepare us for was they'd invited Hillary and the Donald to add their two cents on design and politics. I've got to say I believe we had more fun than anyone. Thanks to the New Traditionalists, thanks to Domino magazine, thanks to the other designers and thanks to Hillary and the Donald for covering up our comedic shortcomings.
View of the Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building, 2009
Luca Campigotto, photographer
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery

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