I took a few days off last week to hang out with my mom in LA for my birthday. Many thanks to my friend and colleague Ed Lefkowicz for photographing the Architectural Digest Home Design Show and contributing this review.
Much of the Architectural Digest Home Show at Pier 94 was given over to manufacturers and distributors of luxury products (Aga ranges, Sub-Zero fridges), but a section titled “Made” was given over to a talented group of artists and artisans. I was looking first for New York things, and found plenty without having to explore the extent of the five boroughs. Among the highlights:
Glassblower Kanik Chung showed some really large glass plates, some an astounding 30 inches in diameter, infused with bubbles and silvered on the back. They made gorgeous wall displays, especially when grouped. Chung also does commission work.
Rafael Avramovich of Work and Design uses metal to fashion lighting fixtures in which Marconi-style bulbs, with visible glowing filaments, figure prominently, and metal strips fashion “shades” which serve more to define space than to act as actual shades or reflectors. He also showed a dining room set with metal frame and legs and glass tabletop, chair seats and backs which looked elegant.
I’m always intrigued by furniture, especially furniture that incorporates reused or recycled materials, and the show did not disappoint in that department. Peter Buley of Brooklyn’s Analog Modern furniture and design studio had a bench made of a reclaimed wooden beam with steel legs which featured the reclaimedness (if that’s the word I’m looking for) of the material. He also had a cabinet with doors which had been re-sawn from once-mortised timbers, and an elegant walnut cabinet which incorporated an old belt pulley from a piece of long-discarded machinery.
Another furniture maker using reclaimed materials was Richard Velloso of Olga Guanabara, who works in DUMBO. He incorporated reclaimed wood, concrete, glass and industrial threaded rod into a handsome coffee table. One dining table had a top pieced from wide dark wood boards flanking a lighter, narrower, wood board; and smaller table featured a top made primarily of steel with a wooden inlay down the center, both handsome pieces.
Eric Slayton, also of Brooklyn, makes furniture of steel, wood, concrete and some upholstered materials as well. Simple, elegant lines and a variety of textures characterize some of his work.
Andrea Summerton of ALS Designs designs furniture, decorative wall shelves and decor in her Brookyln studio. She showed a table made of caramelized bamboo that had some elements of Arts & Crafts about it, but with an open trellis work apron that gave it an airy feel, great for a cramped apartment.
I see I’ve focused on Brooklyn designers and furniture makers, not by intent, but by virtue of the fact that those were the people whose work I was drawn to, and the fact that parts of industrial Brooklyn are affordable for light manufacturing that requires space.
While I was looking for things made in the city, the show was also a great venue to find out-of-town artists and craftspeople.
Vicki DaSilva is a New Jersey photographer who works in New York from time to time. Her latest photos look like they’re of gauzy bolts of fabric woven into night-time interiors and landscapes, and if Christo comes to your mind when you see them it wouldn’t surprise me. The photographs are not of fabric at all, though, but are long exposures of light sources moving through the darkness. (She had a behind-the-scenes video looping on one wall, which showed her process.) The light sources range from smallish bulbs to 8-foot long fluorescent tubes, and the effect is captivating.
Another artist whose work caught my eye is Heather Kocsis, from Hamilton, Ontario. Heather is taken by old industrial architecture, and creates amazing, layered painted wooden constructions of individual buildings and streetscapes, many of which depict New York scenes. She works from photographs, and her pieces accurately depict the look and texture of New York’s industrial history.
A cabinetmaker whose work would be hard to miss is Bart Niswonger, from Worthington, Mass. His furniture, of wood and sometimes cast resins, is bright, colorful and engaging. The resin panels in one of his cabinets are textured on their interior surfaces, and give the piece the appearance of having transparent woodgrained panels.
I’ve only touched on the variety of artists and artisans at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. It’s a great resource for designers and the rest of us, and I was very happy to see the number and quality of exhibits in the “Made” section. Until next year’s show, check out the artists’ websites, shops and galleries. You’ll be glad you did.