In May, The City That Never Sleeps hosted its 12 days long annual celebration of design, NYCxDesign, showcasing an array of creative disciplines through events taking place across the city’s five boroughs.
Known for their commitment to promoting quality contemporary design, two important showcases on the calendar — WantedDesign and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) — are simply unmissable, year after year. From their respective 2019 exhibitions, here are some of the most exciting brands that offer a glimpse into the creative diversity at play in the American high end and contemporary design scene.
An independent Florida based design studio and manufacturer, Yield offers high-end design that is accessible, yet elegant. Designed by founders Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming, the collection combines exceptional craftsmanship with thoughtful production and a contemporary design language that is a window to the new American design movement. Key to the designers is a move away from disposable design; while their production speaks of the latest advances, marrying the high-tech with artisanship, the results are timeless. “We bear a responsibility to create timeless pieces that last,” they say. “Buy for keeps or please do not buy at all.” Central to their ICFF presentation in New York were the Sundial and Duotone coffee tables. Made or order, the tables feature precision machined solid brass, domestically sourced tempered glass and solid surface mosaic. The modular hardware system allows for visual lightness and a range of potential configurations.
Canadian designer Simon Johns is known for works that form a bridge between the fabricated and the elemental. Trained in fine arts, he creates one-off and limited-edition pieces of lighting and furniture that celebrate the natural, raw shapes of the wild. With a vast range of natural materials at his disposal, his works are poetic compositions that celebrate, mimic or even ironically comment on the chosen material palette. For NYC’s WantedDesign festival, his Ledge Console crystallises the designer’s manifesto. Imprecise breaking of the wood, by saw cuts rendered perpendicular to the wood grain allow for an irregular, even organic look that echoes a visual sentiment of crumbling stone. The console is constructed in black ashwood.
Known for her use of unusual materials and experimental processes, the LA based designer has garnered quite a repute for her collections that meld art and object. Hand dip-dyed, layer after layer, her acclaimed resin vessels are formed from a unique process wherein she casts plaster inside of a flexible latex balloon mold that is then sealed with poured resin. For WantedDesign, the designer explored a new direction — applying her artist-like approach to glassware. The result is a family of objects with uncharacteristic (to her body of work) lightness, effervescent with pastel colours and bubble like textures.
Exploring unexpected juxtapositions of materiality, the studio founded by architect and designer Arielle Assouline-Lichten is known for impactful pieces born from a considered use of sustainable materials. Using post-consumer recycled rubber, the designers elevates the humble material to high-design status by pairing it with brass, marble and concrete, lending new value to waste. At WantedDesign, the studio presented trays, placemats, coasters and trivets that featured a terrazzo-like upscaled polymer with a high-gloss, bevel like brass edge. This showcase was pivotal in Assouline-Lichten’s young career — she was named the recipient of the American Design Honors 2019, an award launched in 2015 to recognise up-and-coming American designers who embody excellence in creative design and exemplary entrepreneurial ability.
Putting an interesting spin on the familiar, the New York design studio presented its latest lighting collection, Cerine. Founded by designers Josh Metersky and Aiden Bowman, the Brooklyn-based studio’s commitment to an authentic concept reflects in the brand name. A result of their lifelong passion for mechanics and systems thinking, the duo’s works fuses art-historical references with an engineer’s eye to deliver precise pieces that connect broad themes but are firmly rooted in contemporary culture. Referencing the functional chain link, the Cerine lights feature the distinct form — albeit in handcrafted glass — as the core decorative feature of the lighting collection.