Every May, the New York design industry showcases what’s new and next – taking over the city’s boroughs in a marathon month that encompasses five fairs (ICFF, Wanted Design Brooklyn and Manhattan, Sight Unseen, and Brooklyn Designs) and countless events, in what seems more like a cultural event than a trade show. This year’s edition saw cross-disciplinary collaborations, show stopping showroom installations, emerging independent work and passionate debates amongst industry thought leaders – the most ambitious yet! A non-stop party for the eyeballs and constant inspiring “aha!” moments — we’ve distilled the whole spectrum of events into our top four lasting impressions. Let’s begin.
1. BLURRING THE LINES BETWEEN INDOOR, OUTDOOR AND BEYOND
Lighter, brighter surrounds to enhance productivity and wellbeing is the resounding focus for interiors this year. We saw strong botanical influences in lighting, flooring and furniture throughout showrooms and installations, combining natural elements with conventionally indoor settings and products to give environments a new and fresh perspective.
The “mash up” of different environments creates a fully realised experience and we’re seeing this approach extend further with selected elements from spaces such as work, theatre, hospitality and outdoor combining and coexisting to reflect a more connected and integrated environment. Spaces are evolving to enhance our experience and benefit our wellbeing and lives.
2. MEMPHIS MAXIMALISM
In case you’ve been living off the grid the past year, the 80s Memphis design movement has reemerged featuring loud colours and punchy graphics with maximum appeal to the visual currency of Instagram. As in the past, it seems this resurgence of maximalism is reactive to the abundance of sleek, “tasteful”, mid-century minimalism which has become so repetitive. The look has extended beyond fashion to become extensive installations seen at Sasha Bikoff’s technicolour staircase, Raquel’s Dream House and Camille Walala’s monolithic mural of an Industry City building facade… amongst others.
An emerging theme at the Kips Bay Designer Showhouse – Maximalism is also taking on a 70s retro glamour look with chunky geometries, clean lines, tubular forms, soft furnishings and graphic patterns in muted, pastel colours such as peachy terracota, sage, olive green and mustards. We’re also seeing spots of bold retro colour and metallic finishes to add more luxury and glamour – taking strong influences from the fashion industry. Many cross-disciplinary collaborators this year included trendy downtown boutiques such as Opening Ceremony, Creatures of Comfort and Philip Lim in Sight Unseen’s curatorial project, further emphasising fashion’s collide with furniture and interiors this year.
3. EXPRESSION, MOVEMENT & PERSPECTIVES
Its been a tough year for brick and mortar retailers, with a string of closures on previously bustling streets, which explains showrooms and retail spaces thinking deeper and exploring the potential of the physical space. Kartell, Tom Dixon and MOOOI (just to name a few) covered every inch of their space with sensorially magical compositions through colour, form, materiality and sound. It was an organised flow through the set-ups, a journey of exploration to uncover moments of surprise and delight. The time spent in the space was memorable, conversations were created and connections were formed not only with each other but with the uniquely designed environment.
Designs are more expressive with familiar products now in motion and changing to redefine our experiences. Objects need to be observed from different angles to see the entire perspective and its varying forms such as Tom Dixon’s new MELT range – giving birth to completely new designs and expressions. We attended an exhibit of upcoming artists who created multi-disciplinary works with emotion and expressions of feeling as the core function – re-thinking built constructs.
New developments such as OLED and 3D-knitting technology allows common products to be flexible, with new possibilities to bend and move. The Spun Chair phenomenon by Thomas Heatherwick for Magis gives conventional materials a twist and adds rotational movement to the sitting experience. Technology is advancing traditional materials, manufacturing and application, allowing us to rethink and experiment to provoke change, more expression and dynamic uses.
4. INTERGALACTIC WONDERS
If Elon Musk is doing it, it must be worth exploring! The moon, stars, space and beyond have always been sources of inspiration but there seems to be a larger focus on the subtle textures, forms and abstract interpretations this year. We saw cosmic drivers throughout our visit in installations, lightings and furnishings – an influence we’re interested to see develop into the stupendous wonder and mystery that our galaxy inhabits.
… and some more splendid moments from NYCxDESIGN below.
What an absolute feast for the senses! It was a trip that made us wish for more hours in the day AND collapse from over stimulation at the same time – so many inspiring and motivating moments to take away. We’ve tried our hardest to condense our thoughts into four main takeaways but if you’d like more information please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.