Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Living in New York, well sorta, requires a certain amount of schmoozing to stay relevant. It's why I've always written in the New York Design Center's What's New What's Next event into my calendar the minute they've announced the date.
It's an event that has become kinda mandatory, a place to be seen, and great party if you're under thirty. Its mandate is to offer pairings of designers with either shelter publications or online presences giving thirty minute spiels about the relevance of what we do.
In years past I felt I could go and make sure my face was seen by everyone I could and then make a quick exit after I'd snarfed a piece of raw tuna on an artisan cracker or a dollop of crème fraise and prosciutto on a cubed piece of Italian bread topped with a sprig of parsley.
This year my intentions were the same but from the very first session I popped into I realized I could actually learn something if I stayed around long enough to hear the speakers out. It frequently made me truly ashamed of my arrogance and design ignorance while occasionally confirming that maybe just a hi and good-bye was okay.
So here in chronological order is a list of my travels; mostly pluses that enhanced my design knowledge along with some encounters that were just good old handshakes with friends and colleagues.
A note to future attendees: you can not hit every event or meet and greet. The event runs from 1:00pm to 9:00pm with 92 showrooms,
52 designer conversations, presentations and panel discussions
and 22 meet and greets. You need to pick and choose before you go.
1:45-3:45, 10th floor. 1stdibs. I had decided to arrive around 2:30, fashionably late enough to miss the two hundred or so early arrivers trying to squeeze onto elevators not made to hold more than a dozen normal sized occupants. By the time I arrived the official count of attendees had passed the fifteen hundred mark. This event has grown exponentially over the past eight years since its inception and the final count of attendees this year maxed out at 7,500.
The 10th floor was crowded with guests grabbing an early glass of Prosecco and wandering the aisles of impressive antiques. As you walk the labyrinth of 1stdibs you're brought to contemplate which is more impressive: the quality of the antiques or the price tags dangling from them.
The centerpiece of 1stdibs event were a quartet of designer vignettes culled and put together and sourced from the halls at 1stdibs.
Anna Burke, Eric Hughs, Nicole Fuller and Drew McGukin were the foursome selected to create their tableaux.
3;15, As hard as I tried to be on time to my first presentation I only managed to catch the tail end of a talk at Nasiri Carpets about how designers are using ancient carpets in contemporary spaces.
The event was moderated by Jason Kontos, editor-in-chief of New York Spaces, one of my favorite editors for one of my favorite shelter magazines still publishing a newsstand version.
The other plus was getting to spend a couple of minutes with an old friend and are guardian angel, Beth Dempsey, owner of Images & Details, Nasiri's PR rep.
3:45, I did make it on time for the next speech on my must see list. Editor-in-Chief  Pamela Jaccarino of Luxe Interiors was interviewing Barclay Butera about his new collection for Lexington Home Brands.
My take-away wasn't so much about his new collection but about the path some of us are presented with in getting to where we are today.
Barclay came to his position through his family or more specifically his mother, a prominent interior designer in Southern California. At a very young age he began helping with staging major projects sometimes involving hundreds of units at a time. If that kind of pressure didn't kill your desire in becoming a designer I'm guessing nothing would.
4:30, Saw me running up the stairs to the fourth floor. The elevators were of practically no use at this time. Even if one stopped at your floor it was packed and unless you were reed thin or incredibly aggressive you weren't get on.
Kravet's topic centered around a discussion of licensing in the fabric industry.
Brunschwig & Fils' Danielle St. George and Les Ensembliers' Richard Ouellette put on a show of the hows, how long does it take, and when is coming out aspects of Brunschwig & Fils first collaboration in the licensing arena. How do you define trends, how do you weed out what you think might work, what's the color story, what makes a entry different from what's out there already; it was a crash course on design and marketing.
6:00From the fourth floor up to the twelfth floor took my breath away but I'm developing a great pair of calves from all the stair work from this event. In the Odegard Carpet showroom a panel of designers under the questioning of Dennis Sarto from Dering Hall revealed the many ways they've incorporated the ever changing technological landscape affecting the design fields into their own bags of tricks.
Who uses twitter? Is internet exposure as important as magazine coverage? Facebook or Instagram? What's next? Is technology a friend or a foe? Designers beware. If you haven't jumped into this complicated new world you need to get going before you get left behind.
6:30At least the next six flights were going down rather than going up and the reward was a bit more party than infomercial.
Global Views had the honor of introducing Elle Décor's in Editor-in-chief, Whitney Robinson.
It was a short and sweet introduction giving me enough time to then peruse Global View and Studio A's new collections.
6:45I had to really run this time to get back up to the twelfth floor and into Dennis Miller's gallery. Wendy Goodman from New York Magazine was interviewing antique dealer and historian Liz O'Brien and the designing duo of James Aman and John Meeks of Aman & Meeks. They all talked about combining centuries old antiques with current contemporary furnishings.
This was the one discussion that made me feel totally inadequate. Ms. O'Brien was an encyclopedia of furniture styles, periods and piece designations. It was much like listening to a botanist giving a talk about plants and using only their Latin names. Boy did I feel out-of-my-league but so impressed. I forced me into taking inventory on my historic knowledge and the gapping hole I need to fill
7:15I thought I was done but I felt I should stop in at The New Traditionalists. We were on their panel last year and it's always the biggest go-to party of the event. When I got there the red ropes up and they were only letting people in who wanted to hear the speaker. I knew the topic was Texas and Texan design but I was guessing most people were coming for the BBQ and spirits.
The doorman told me I could come in but the bar was closed until after the speaker finished. I had never heard of the Houston based architectural firm of Curtis & Windham. I was impressed that they had even made it for this presentation since we were just days after Hurricane Harvey. I was bowled over with their work.
Huge commissions and beautifully done projects filled their portfolio. They have a book out and if you don't know their work you should take a look at it.
When the presentation had ended and I had finished talking to our sales rep I decided I had had enough. By then the bar was back open and the line of those waiting to get into the party had stretched all the way down the hall.

Shoe House, Hallam, PA, 1989
David Graham, photographer
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery, NYC

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