New York Dispatch / December 2021
As the city is brimming with design exhibitions and events, TDE sets out to explore, visiting everything from student collaborations to penthouse showcases.
WITH EVENTS LIKE Salon Art + Design, ICFF, and BDNY coinciding during this year’s particularly jampacked autumn calendar, New York was brimming with activity last month. Joining the city’s dynamic community of architects, artists, designers, gallerists, culturemakers and enthusiasts was an influx of visitors from other parts of the US and abroad. It just so happened that the 18-month ban on international travel into the US was lifted as New York Design Week commenced. Spread between the main collectible design and contract industry fairs was a rich offering of small but impactful events – everything from the unveiling of student thesis projects and the long-anticipated release of specific product lines, to staged apartments and group shows.
The Design Edit contributor Adrian Madlener shares a few of his highlights from this year’s especially exuberant and intensive New York Design Week (8th to 18th November). The majority of these collective exhibitions are on view until the end of December and beginning of January.
De Muro Das x Rhode Island School of Design, Department of Furniture (12th Nov 2021 – Jan 2022)
New York and New Delhi-based furniture manufacturer DeMuro Das is known for masterfully-crafting wares that combine Indian savoir-faire with unique designs that borrow from mid-century modern organicism. The illustrious brand recently teamed up with the Rhode Island School of Design, Department of Furniture’s Graduate Studio to provide its students with real-world experience and the chance of working within the industry before leaving school.
Helmed by New York culturemaker and Colony founder Jean Lin, in her capacity as a visiting critic, the programme was fashioned as a year-long studio course in which students developed concepts based on the brand’s particular expertise and audience. The collaborative process – conducted over Zoom – also put the company’s founders Brian DeMuro and Puru Das in direct contact with promising young designers.
“The invigorating process of working with students as they hone their creative voices has pushed the boundaries of our own design vernacular,” DeMuro reflects, “We are thrilled at the opportunity to showcase student work by offering access to our extensive production capabilities.”
A refined collection of sculptural room dividers, architecture-inspired armoires, and marquetry tables featured among the winning designs. While Alexis Tingey’s antique bronze and dalmatian jasper ‘Swan Table’ evokes the seemingly effortless yet incredibly complicated choreography of ballet, Virginia Gordon’s stone-inlaid ‘Vision Table’ pays homage to the American Southwest and its culture of resourceful yet unabashed experimentation. Inspired by vernacular houses constructed in various Japanese building styles, Maxwell Taylor-Milner’s shou sugi ban-finished ‘Cabinet’ is strikingly clad in thatched-roof-inspired straw.
Matter Made MMXXII (13th Nov – 23rd Dec)
At the intersection of collectible and high-end product design, MATTER has been a staple of the New York scene for over a decade. Featuring works by a stellar roster of contemporary American and international designers such as Luca Nichetto, Objects of Common Interest, and Philippe Malouin, the platform also collaborates with a number of like-minded boutique manufacturers. Abutting its gallery programme is the Matter Made studio and brand, headed up by designer in his own right Jamie Gray.
For its 2022 collection, Matter Made commissioned Jamie Wolfond, Ana Kraš, and Faye Toogood to develop new furnishings and luminaires, which join Gray’s own recently developed limited-edition wares. Overall, this dynamic collection draws inspiration from ancient civilizations and sci-fi films but perhaps most importantly, upholds the company’s commitment to tried and tested craft traditions.
Jamie Gray, ‘Delphi’ pendants, 2021
“Constructed of cast and machined brass paired with fluted glass tubing, the pendants pay homage to iconic Greek columns”
Jamie Wolfond, ‘Balloon Floor Lamp’, 2021
“Born from a series of experiments with balloons and wire, the lamps are made from blown glass pinched between a tubular steel frame”
Presented for the first time at the reimagined Matter Project space, these new designs were displayed in a pared-back yet distinctive Wiener Werkstätte-esque setting. Wolfond’s playful yet structurally-innovative ‘Balloon’ lamps cohabit well with Gray’s columnar ‘Delphi’ lighting series. Subtle references to Stonehenge appear in his ‘Henge’ table and ‘Mōai’ chair. Ana Kraš’s tube- and slab-based ‘Slon’ benches make a return in new collection-appropriate colourways while Faye Toogood’s mushroom-inspired ‘Puffball’ luminaires are reintroduced on a more intimate scale.
Exhibition Penthouse: Coming Home (11th Nov 2021 – 14th Jan 2022)
The aptly titled ‘Coming Home’ exhibition marks the reopening of Elena Frampton’s Flatiron District-based Exhibition Penthouse. Carefully curated by the interior designer and art advisory, the capsule, curio-style showcase incorporates highly expressive, vibrant, and textured works by various Northern East-based talents.
“‘Coming Home’ is an exploration of the relationship between craft and comfort [in domesticity],” Frampton explains. “This show is an exciting composition and showcases our distinct perspective on how colour, material, scale and utility can collaborate in unexpected ways to design for how we actually live.”
Staged as if in a collector’s living room, the eclectic and reasonably maximalist display is anchored by Frampton’s own ‘F Collection Tux sofa and Arc’ desk, a perfectly amoebic workstation toned in forest green. Playfully juxtaposing this high-gloss lectern is Chen Chen & Kai William’s thermoplastic and reflective glass beaded ‘Thonet 1000’ chair. Nick Missel’s silicone ‘Atmos’ chandelier and adjoining candy-hued cube were arguably the stars of the show. The Philadelphia-based designer employs a bespoke layering and casting process that simultaneously evokes the textural quality of discarded cardboard bailed together and the unusually repetitive patterns of nature. Also notable are William Storms’s mixed-media passementerie weavings that fasten neon-hued acrylics in linen, jute, cotton, and flax rope.
Colony: JOIN (11th Nov – 10th Dec)
Commemorating its post-pandemic return, incubator and gallery Colony mounted ‘JOIN’. The group exhibition brings together a variety of works by its impressive roster of North American talents. Bespoke luminaires, textiles and objects were conceived based on the theme of coming together after a long, forced hiatus.
Though diverse in their application, focus and compositions, the various pieces align with the platform’s keen aesthetic and formal sensibility: natural tones and materials offset by the daring introduction of bold colour and pattern.
The exhibiting designers took this opportunity to explore the tactile meaning and emotional complexity of social interaction. Bec Brittain’s latest pendant was inspired by drawings she and her five-year-old son made in unison. Joining an occasional chair from Studio Paolo Ferrari – produced via a transatlantic exchange – are urns by Grain. Other exhibitors include A Space, Hiroko Takeda, Allied Maker, KWH Furniture, Meg Callahan, Erickson Aesthetics, Phaedo, Flat Vernacular, and Vonnegut/Kraft.
“We are all trying to find our footing in this new reality that COVID-19 has left us with,” Colony founder Jean Lin explains. “We’ve never been more acutely aware of the importance of community and collaboration, and chose the theme JOIN to honour this inherent need to come together.”