The Best of ICFF and Wanted Design 2013


After four days spent exploring ICFF and the nearby Wanted Design events in New York, I came into our offices with about a million press kits and even more inspiration. This year’s booths ran the gamut from tranquil stone gardens (Caesarstone) to riotous color explosions (Fab), and it’s an impossible task to classify the shows in one go, so here’s a look at some of our favorite design elements from the festivities.  

Best Booths

Swedish rug company Kasthall USA had an amazing installation by California artist Tanya Aguaniga. Using wool manufactured by the company and a good representation of the firm’s palette, she created a giant yarn fort for the booth.

The Fab booth was a color riot front and center at the convention center. With giant-Lego walls and displays of rugs, accessories and furniture climbing practically to the ceilings, it was a huge hit and attracted passers-by to come in and hear about the new collaborations that Fab is doing with independent designers (such as Blue Dot and Beats By Dre).

Following a crazy day scouting the booths, a final stop at the Stone Garden at Caesarstone was a much-needed meditation space. Designer Oki Sato, cheief designer of Japanese firm Nendo, created the tranquil space by using clusters of single-legged tables. “By adding more and more, it becomes a garden. I wanted to create a object that becomes an installation,” the designer said.

Tanya Aguaniga at Kasthall

Fab booth

Nendo at Caesarstone

Best Lighting

I’m a huge fan of New York design duo Apparatus, and their booth amazed me this year with a slew of new, sexy designs. The Triad features softly glowing bulbs at the end of sleek cone fixtures, but I truly fell in love with the python-wrapped brass of the new Arrow fixture.

Brooklyn-based designer Mary Wallis showcased her new Melbourne light at this year’s show (the linear neon fixture is named after the Australian’s hometown. I’m also obsessed with her neon table lamp at the bottom of the image, below.

Just around the corner—and best known for their cardboard Scraplights—Portland-based group Graypants debuted a new aluminum design that I loved. Steplights is a collection of three shapes, all of which arrive flat-packed and ready to assemble in minutes.

Arrow light at Apparatus

Mary Wallis neon lighting

Graypants Scraplights and Steplights

Best Reveal

Hearing Philippe Starck explain the inspiration behind his new Axor Starck Organic line of faucets for Hansgrohe was possibly the highlight of my week. You don’t have to look too closely to see the biological basis for the fixture’s form, but I loved the stories he told about taking inspiration from watching his wife walk naked through the woods.

Philippe Starck Organic faucet

Best Playtime

From pool to ping pong tables, high-design gaming was popping up everywhere at ICFF. I got creamed at the RS Barcelona ping pong table, which will be coming to DWR in the near future along with a sleek fooseball table. I also admired a green-and-clear crystal version of a fooseball table at Bespoke Global.

At Wanted Design just a few blocks away, I loved the classic bicycle shapes from BIKEID, a new Swedish company that makes chrome-alloy frames in timeless styles. Keep your eyes peeled for an exclusive design they’re creating for MOMA in August.

RS Barcelona fooseball and ping pong table

Classic shapes from BIKEID


Best 3D

The emphasis on 3D printing was huge at this year’s ICFF. First, there was DesignX, a focused series of workshops that ran throughout the conference and was devoted to digital technology and rapid prototyping in design. I also got to check out Makerbot competitor Formlabs, which makes a hi-res desktop 3D printer that will run you about $3,300 (but comes with a huge supply of printing resin and a finishing kit).

I spotted some beautiful 3D-printed wall art by MGX by Materialise at d’Apostrophe, and immediately wanted it for my home. 

The lighting and jewelry by Nervous System was magnetic. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering everything a 3D printer can create, but seeing a machine-made bioligical form is still so interesting to me. 

Formlabs’ desktop 3D printer

MGX by Materialise

Nervous System

Best Nature

Amid the heavy dose of man-made tech, a few booths showcased the beauty of natural resources. I swooned over an eight-foot sofa at the Sentient booth, which was wrapped in American oak and upholstered in wooly Icelandic sheepskin. They also did a beautiful version of a live-edge credenza, where the slabs were attached to the outside of the body.

Over at Wanted, Trove founders explained their inspiration for their new Nimbus wallpaper, in which they used light toys (“those hairy wands you get at the circus,” said designer Jee Levin) to “paint” cloud-like shapes onto photo paper in a darkroom before exposing it and transforming it into the wallpaper mural.

Sentient furniture at ICFF

New Nimbus wallpaper at Trove


Best National

One last aspect I really enjoyed was seeing concentrated groupings of designers from specific countries, such as Japan, Italy and El Salvador. Norway brought a talented crew and introduced them during a fun kick-off party at the Snohetta headquarters in the financial district (there was a jaw-dropping view—from inside the Snohetta offices—into what appears to be an abandoned mosque next door). Maybe it was the fact that the party fell on Norway’s independence day, but it got rowdy. Guests downed dill pickles and aquavit and checked out limited-edition blankets made by Roros Tweed. The designs were displayed beautifully in the booth the next day, when more than a few Norwegians were nursing hangovers. I particularly liked The Woods glass sculpture by StokkeAustad and Adreas Engesvik. 

The Woods

Coupled with the festivities of NYCxDesign week, the weekend conferences exhausted nearly everyone who attended. Constant refills of prosecco and inspiration, however, gave everyone the energy to make the rounds of the Javits Convention Center, the Terminal Stores in Chelsea, and the smaller, more focused design events downtown in Nolita and the Bowery. We’re not quite done digesting everything we spotted at ICFF and Wanted, but check out our Fall issue for a heavy helping of the best design from California’s talented crop. There’s so much more than what you’ve seen here. 


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