The Best Of ICFF 2015 In New York
By: Philip Wood
This year’s ICFF took up its regular residency at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, its location consolidating a western tilt to the city’s axis of cool that was officially confirmed earlier this year by the arrival of the new Renzo Piano designed Whitney Museum. But, as always, the Javits is not the only game in town and much is to be discovered by getting out of the convention center and mixing with the less conventional.
Brooklyn is fast becoming what SoHo was and the neo-primitivism favored by many a Brooklyn-based artisan over the last few years seems to have given way to a more clean lined, almost graphic series of investigations. Todd St. John’s room divider (above) is quite a beautiful example of this development. It retains the love of the artisinal material but moves forward into graphic and more lyric territory.A perfect example of Brooklyn’s continuing sophistication was Piero Lissoni’s 4,000 square foot apartment (above) in the Sunset Park neighborhood which, even a few years ago, would not have seemed conceivable. It constituted a strong selection of his own work, teamed with local talent, in a beautifully sparse loft space which normally functions as photography studio. His "Casa Lissoni" showcased the man’s work from Living Divani, Porro, Flos, and Boffi with local talent Bec Brittain, Assembly Design, Token, Fort Standard, and Snarkitecture. The overall affect was one of a SoHo loft re-imagined for the Brooklyn times, a perfectly timed physical analogy to the shifting fortunes of the borough.
Coming so soon after the Milan furniture fair, much of the furniture on view had been already shown the month before and it’s clear that in certain ways NY suffers from the younger cousin syndrome. However, there is some important home grown talent that is, if not taking on the Italian’s, at least showing us that we on this side of the pond do have something to say and our own way of saying it. Two companies of different types stood out and have been quietly growing in scale, ambition, and influence.Firstly, Emeco whose classic Navy chair is the seat of choice for those in need of the indestructible. Its collaboration with Philippe Starck some years ago has led it on a design journey that has brought collaborations with Konstantin Grcic, Michael Young, and this year’s work with Jasper Morrison who, by many standards, is the best living designer. Morrison’s Alfi chair range combines a simplicity of form with an undeniably American honesty of construction and Emeco’s commitment to minimizing its environmental footprint is formidable. Second, is New York’s homegrown Matter whose own line of furniture has become an important part of the brands offer (it had originated as a retailer). This year’s work includes a chair and table family designed by Philippe Malouin titled Typecast. Malouin had worked with Matter on this for some time and it seems now a fully realized piece. It is an evocative and simple reflection on the constructive process of furniture making and hints at a larger production potential for the stable of designs that Matter is collating. Also a stand out from Matter are the toned down Memphis inspired tables by Ana Kras. All in all, this year’s New York Design Week seems to be growing up, growing in confidence, and growing beyond the small enclaves it once occupied.