This year’s WantedDesign NYC Manhattan, along with its Brooklyn offshoot, were a staple of New York’s third-annual design week, NYCxDesign, which also includes the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, now in its 27th year. Conceived as a venue for emerging designers worldwide to showcase their wares, the fifth-annual WantedDesign stayed true to that aim. Held in the landmark Terminal Stores building in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, the Manhattan iteration of the event hosted nearly 150 exhibitors, many of whom came as members of design collectives. We checked in with three of those groups to learn how they combined handcraft and materiality to represent their regions at the New York show.
One highlight among exhibitors was Detroit Made, which was organized by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), an advocacy group for the city’s creative sector, and curated by the Detroit Wallpaper Co., a custom wallcoverings studio. A first-time exhibitor, DC3 was attracted to the show because of the sense of community it engenders through its on-site and offline programs. “The relationship between the peers and the subject matter experts doing this work around the country is equally as important as the buyers and consumers,” says Matt Clayson, DC3’s executive director.
In addition to curating and designing the display, the Detroit Wallpaper Co. was also one of 14 studios from the Motor City that were part of the exhibit. Its Dotty Wotty wallpaper was inspired by the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, a nonprofit that over the last three decades has transformed the once-blighted area surrounding the eponymous street into a vibrant arts environment that draws more than 275,000 visitors annually.
Other Detroit Made participants included Brooklyn transplant Alex Drew & No One, which showed its walnut and 23-karat-gold Golden Blaze dining table, and Möbel Link, which uses precision-cutting to create entire pieces of furniture from single sheets of plywood. The latter’s Motion Chair in birch was displayed with Kem3D’s Rand footstool, which incorporates a traditionally caned, or woven, surface of grosgrain nylon ribbon. Kem3D principal Andy Kem chose the material, which is commonly used as trim in clothing, for its tensile strength that allows it to be woven.
Among the exhibits by international collectives, the Territorio Creativo Mexico made a particularly robust showing. Comprising 10 industrial designers and studios, the showcase of contemporary Mexican furniture, lighting, and accessories was curated by Design Week Mexico, an organization created in 2009 to encourage innovation and promote Mexican design within the country and worldwide.
Several of the products on display reference Mexico’s heritage of handcrafts and design. For example, Mexico City–based studio Mob’s Cortes 00, a marble-topped coffee table, and Garcia, a modern take on a traditional osier chair, hail from Collection 5, a line of handmade, fair trade furniture whose pieces are each named after an artisan involved in its manufacture. Taller R’s Martina stool and side table combo gives a nod to the iconic Acapulco chair with a woven PVC-cord seat in three bright colors, says Valentina de la Garza, an industrial designer and the commercial director for the Mexico City design studio. Another standout was studio Paul Roco’s Greta, a collection of decorative lighting whose form is based on that of a hand grenade. Available in floor or table and pendant versions, the fixtures are made of huanacaxtl, a tropical wood indigenous to Mexico.
Fresh from its debut in Milan, “Liminal: Irish Design at the Threshold” is the flagship show of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), a yearlong celebration of Ireland’s design industry. Organized by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and supported by the Irish government, the ID2015 initiative was launched to promote local design, drive job creation—accounting for 1,800 new jobs in three years—and increase exports through 300 cultural events and activities held nationally and abroad. Following WantedDesign, Liminal will travel to Dublin in July and then on to Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, for Dutch Design Week in October.
In New York, Liminal presented the work of 23 designers across a variety of product categories, from blown glass pendant lighting to tableware informed by common ingredients in Irish cuisine and to floor coverings inspired by geometry and pattern. Of particular note were Claire Anne O’Brien’s Casta yellow chair and Cisean gray pouffe, both of which use knitted patterns to, respectively, reinterpret the carved details of a traditional Alpine-style chair and allude to the Aran wool sweaters at the heart of Irish village life.
The dates for WantedDesign NYC 2016 have yet to be announced. For more information, visit http://www.wanteddesignnyc.com/.
This article has been updated.