Block party

 What is it about the Big Apple? When you come here with the purpose of seeing one thing, something else down the block grabs your attention. Such was the case with the 2013 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), where a suitably intriguing array of interior products was on display in the bright and airy Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. But just a few blocks down on 11th Avenue, the next generation of designers held their own party at WantedDesign, an independent design exhibition presenting new and original works in the high-energy atmosphere of The Tunnel at the Terminal Stores. Bristling with a kind of Uptown/Downtown, Upper East/Lower West Side, Mets/Yankees dichotomy, this entirely New York juxtaposition created an invigorating double whammy for design industry enthusiasts.

1-There’s an app for that

The venerable Dutch manufacturer Artifort joined forces with M2L and showcased a number of new contemporary furniture offerings, including the eye-catching Apps line of seating, which made its U.S. debut at ICFF 2013. Richard Hutten’s first design for Artifort comes in both one-person (Apps 1.0) and two-person (Apps 2.0) versions, both of which take their form from the ubiquitous square icons of the virtual world.

2-Back to basics

The Poly armchair and sofa collection by Los Angeles–based industrial designer Nolen Niu embraces a particular fascination of his: the unpretentious elegance of basic geometry. Here he takes simple 2-D graphic-inspired designs and turns them into 3-D form, either with a solid hardwood-based or fully upholstered version.

3-Frankie goes to Wellington

New Zealand–based Rebecca Asquith and Tim Wigmore of DesignTree debuted the Frankie light series. Laced with considerable amounts of Kiwi charm and craft, the design duo combined a few simple components of solid timber and felt to create a tactile and refined lighting system available in a pendant, double pendant, floor and table version. Since the materials are FSC-certified silver beech and recycled PET for the panel, they can contribute to Green Star ratings.

4-Way up north 

Insidenorway, an initiative of the Norwegian furniture industry that aims to promote Norwegian design in foreign markets, held a fascinating prototype exhibition at ICFF that showcased 18 young Norwegian designers. Among the best was a modern take on the traditional glass-fronted cabinet, designed by Stine Aas, a third-year student at the Bergen National Academy of Art and Design. Display Away (a) reflects light through the cabinet, creating a shadowy effect on objects placed inside; the shelves’ rounded corners make them separate from the hull, creating a floating lightness. Another item that breathes new life into everyday objects was created by Oslo-based product and furniture designer Hallgeir Homstvedt. Tangent (b) is, at first glance, just a set of vases on a metal tray. But upon closer inspection, a strong neodymium magnet attached at the bottom of the vases lock them in an upright position while at the same time allow for free movement within the tray.

5-Stuck up

The refreshingly cheeky Stickbulb comes from inspired minds at the New York City–based design firm RUX. What they’ve done is take leftovers of maple and sun-bleached Ipe wood from offcuts of previous works created in their studio, pieces that themselves were made from wood salvaged from the Coney Island boardwalk, and paired them with LED lighting strips. The series comes in various forms such as Bang, which skews the basic idea of a tripod lamp, and the single-stick Torch, which leans precariously from a weighted steel base.

6-Play hard

The Play collection, designed by Alain Berteau for the Belgian design firm Wildspirit, includes a table and chairs for both indoors and out that are both fun and functional. The table, available in square or rectangular versions, consists of solid teak; the stackable chairs come in oak, walnut or beech with a black, orange, camel, ivory or dark-brown calf-leather seat for indoor use or a mature teak frame for outdoor applications.

7-On the hook

Foldable furniture is nothing new – but a table that looks like it came off the set of RoboCop certainly is. As elaborate and robust as it looks, the Cricket system from Folditure opens in one movement by pulling on a hook. Claiming to be the world’s thinnest luxury dining table, it is based on an impressive folding geometry and locking mechanism that goes from a flat position (less than ¾ inch) to a structurally rigid, 3-D frame made of aluminum-composite panel, stainless-steel hinges and aircraft-grade stainless-steel rivets.

8-The right note

Think Fabricate, a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary design studio, debuted its new Your Reflective Cadence mirror composition at the show. It plays on the idea of musicality in design and is composed of six slim mirror panels that are conceived as a group that visualize legato and staccato notes through an up-and-down arrangement and subtly varying depths.

9-Do androids dream of neon?

Brooks Atwood and his team at POD Design were clearly inspired by the highly stylized retro-futurism of movies like Bladerunner when they sat down and began concocting the Tetra, a new 10mm-thick geometric neon desk lamp. Functionally governed by a brilliant daylight-inspired glow and an ingenious dimmer function, it also challenges the expectation of glass bending by combining only three curves, yet stays far away from the kitsch of neon bar signs.

10-Good enough to eat

Italian kitchen maker Effeti unveiled its BK2 system at the firm’s new flagship showroom in the Tunnel. Designed by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti as a sort-of sequel to predecessor BK1, it’s characterized by the graphic line of the vertical handle and features doors varnished in various matt and gloss colours or with wood veneer, and a breakfast bar finished in a thermo-treated (as opposed to stained) chestnut.

11-Building blocks

Scott Jones is a Brooklyn–based industrial designer specializing in furniture and soft goods, but his day job is as a bag designer for a New York–based global brand, so it’s impressive that he found time to design and build the sassy Bloc’d Sofa. Constructed of steel, soft maple and upholstered foam, it would undoubtedly appeal to any addict of the classic yet maddening video game Tetris.

12-A well-earned retreat

Michael Yates Design – based in Austin, Texas – has every right to be proud of Giacomo Rocker, the newest addition to its line of paper corded seating. This fresh and clever reinterpretation of a classic icon is staunchly modern but still feels welcoming, ready to congratulate you on your victory over the assaults of the day.

13-Head in the clouds

While not exactly an up-and-comer,
Trove chose well in picking WantedDesign to showcase its 2013 wallcoverings collection consisting of two new lines, Nimbus (shown) and Heze. Popping against The Tunnel’s industrial brick backdrop, the clouds of Nimbus (named after ones that prelude a storm) play with dark and light through wide, gestural brushstrokes.