“If used safely, responsibly, and with utmost care—for yourself, your fellow man, and the environment—an axe will be your best friend,” particularly if the axe happens to be a beautiful object designed by Peter Buchanan-Smith. The Grammy award-winning graphic designer and author teamed with his old camp buddy, Graeme Cameron, an outdoorsman and environmental entrepreneur, to found Best Made Company, a New York City- and Toronto-based enterprise that is doing a brisk business in made-to-order axes. Even those averse to chopping will be seduced by the sturdy tools, which feature Tennessee hickory handles hand-painted in your choice of vibrant patterns—we favor the white, red, and black combo with the rather ominous name of “Hush Now.” The distinctive axes cleared the way for the company’s foray into lighting design for Roll & Hill, the bright new lighting company founded by designer Jason Miller. Debuting at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the Stacks Lamp (above) is inspired by the stacks of flagging tape—used by arborists and loggers to mark trees—strewn about the Best Made workshop. It consists of a stack of wood rings painted with bold patterns. Fancy a different configuration? Users can stack and re-stack the removable rings as they see fit. Yelling “Timmmmmmmmmmmber!” before a redesign is optional.
When Emigre went bye-bye, we cursed, we cried, we accepted that anything in print that good would never find its way online again. But what to our wondering eyes should appear? Emigre essays and interviews online, as their physical back issues sell out!
First up is Emigre #30, aptly named “Fallout” because of its theme: A response to a controversial Steven Heller essay named “Cult of the Ugly” that was published in a 1994 Eye. In addition to Cranbrook student David Shields–one of the designers of the publication that inspired Heller to write the “Ugly” essay–Michael Dooley interviews Mr. Keedy, Ed Fella and Heller to get the full story. So why read it now?:
For those of you who missed the typographic debates of the 90s, or for those nostalgic for those turbulent times in design, these interviews are not to be missed as they define a historical moment in graphic design.
There’s plenty more where that came from, too. We recommend oldie but goodie “Saving Advertising” that Jelly Helm wrote in 2000 (still very relevant today, although sadly, advertising is not). Also recently posted is an interview with born-again blogger Rick Poynor, who coincidentally announced his first retirement from the blogosphere when reviewing the final issue of Emigre. And there you go, the internet is suddenly cool again.
This is the true story. Of four strangers. Picked to attend the biggest furniture fair in the country. Have their thoughts recorded. To see what happens. When design bloggers stop making hype. And design starts getting real.
Sponsored by the New York Times House & Home section.
While it may have seemed it was all about lines and more lines (not that kind, you filthy little animal), ICFF & Design Week are slowly petering out and the city is returning to a place where Tobias Wong doesn’t offer cigarettes on the sidewalk and we don’t stalk Yves Behar (nearly as much).
BusinessWeek talks to some of the folks we chatted with pre-game to get their post-game thoughts, while Piers Fawkes gives his two trendy cents. No surprises really: It’s big, it’s American, it’s spilling over into the ‘hoods, and more people are focusing on sustainability, although not nearly enough. We’ll tell you, though, there was one thing that surprised even us this year–the voracious, near-rabid attendance, media frenzy and blog coverage surrounding what’s basically…a trade show? Some PR company doesn’t have to work very much the rest of the year, do they?
Another interesting thought crossed our mailbox early this week, from Sir Steven Heller:
What I’d like to see out of Design Week is a NEW presence for graphic design. The field is in a slump, in large part because its overshadowed by all these other media that, in my humble opinion, have usurped elements of graphic design.
Could it be true? Is graphic (and web, and product, and design thinking, and whatever else have you) missing out on a tremendous opportunity to bank on the Design-ness of the week? Might all the forgotten fields have a chance to redeem themselves during–gasp–National Design Week?
We think it’s too late, really. The pretty chairs have stolen the show.
Part of the whole fun of the ICFF/Design Week hoopla isn’t so much the stuff you see (you’re probably not finding yourself saying, “Ooh, look, a couch!” after about the first ten minutes), but it’s the people you run into. Our pal Michael Surtees over at DesignNotes has just put up one such story, a really terrific run in with a real-live celebrity. Here’s a bit from his site:
As I was walking sideways with my camera trying to make a long stitched shot of the wall, I heard the familiar question that a lot weimaraner owners get – “can I pet your dog?” He seemed polite enough and usually I can tell by the tone if they’re an owner of a dog or not. If they have a dog they’re usually more relaxed b/c they know what it’s like to have someone come up to their dog, where as someone that doesn’t have a dog is much more quick to throw their hands out and ask almost as an after thought. So I gathered he must have some experience with dogs. As we started talking he found out that we’re both from Canada, Maddie’s age and a couple other small chat things. As the conversation went back and fourth I found out that he had three dogs which also happened to be weimaraners. Until that point I didn’t realize who he was, but it is extremely unusual for anyone in NYC to have three weims. He then told me their ages (three, five and eight), and then as an introduction said “I’m William Wegman.”
Surtees also has some other great coverage, including a trip to that big Blogger party blowout, so head on over immediately, if you haven’t already. Hello? Oh. Guess you already left.
Kartel cleans up with Body of Work, Bernhardt’s new Global Editions represents with the CuldeSac Whisper Chair, Tom Dixon lights up lighting and Emi Fujita and Shane Kohatsu are named best new designers (their Corona light is above). View all the 2007 ICFF Editors Awardees here.
And here are the editors who will be receiving bottles of expensive wines/bags of flaming dog poop today:
Silvia Latis of Abitare
Catherine Osborne of Azure
Sam Grawe of Dwell
Wendy Goodman of House & Garden
Julie Lasky of I.D.
Karen D. Singh of Interior Design
Gilda Bojardi of Interni
Chantal Hamaide of Intramuros
Susan S. Szenasy of Metropolis
Arlene Hirst of Metropolitan Home
Alex Bagner of Wallpaper*
Here at UnBeige we were looking for our own special ICFF angle. Instead of sending an insider-y New York industrial design freak to the show, we decided to send the polar opposite: A happily outsider-y San Francisco graphic designer (who also just so happened to study architecture way back when). Eric Heiman, principal at Volume, put together this top ten list of what caught his impartial eye (in no particular order):
1. The new colors for the classic Eames lounge wood chairs in the Herman Miller booth. That yellow looks good enough to eat, gosh darnit.
2. Speaking of which, the Herman Miller booth: What could be more fun than giant interlocking Eames cards? House of cards contstruction by BBK Studio.
3. Doctors (or least people who play them on TV) do have style: Lisa Edelstein, of TV’s “House,” cruising the floor looking for new wares in which to store all those medical journals.
4. Wood veneer bags at Monacca. Mmmmm…Hideo Wakamatsu, our love affair is over.
5. Mike and Maaike‘s juxtaposed: religion bookshelf. Furniture as arbiter of spiritual tolerance. Now that’s California dreamin’ for you.
6. Council–a Bay Area-and-beyond collaboration between Derek Chen, One and Co., Mike and Maaike, Arik Levy, and Khodi Feiz–my favorite new furniture collection of the show.
7. Walking down the British design corridor and hearing all the different United Kingdom accents bespeaking the value of their design wares. “Bloody great, old chap.”
8. Designer foosball tables from RS Barcelona. All that was missing was the global ICFF tournament draw.
9. Botanist’s fusion of bent wood veneer, powder coatings and a little bit of wispy, earthy motifs.
10. Thanks, God, no more of those tacky Tommy the Train bedspreads for the kids: Boodalee’s “big designs for little dreamers.” No, they don’t make them in king or queen-sized yet, so you adults will have to wait.
On the last day before the ICFF floor was opened to the public, bloggers rushed to cover the exhibits before they were swarmed by design-curious housewives pushing strollers. MoCoLoco hit the Wrong Store, where the party was actually outside on the sidewalk, Core 77 has photos of the Nat Sherman appetizers, more parties Saturday and Sunday and a sum up of the ICFF highlights, which opens with the awesome line “ICFF, as we all know, is a lot like IKEA.” Shuddddder.
Metropolis pushed a bunch of its content live, with Jade Chang and David Sokol on the floor. Sokol’s trolling for trends like Graphic Content and Material Marriages. Check out the photos from Day 1 and Day 2. The magazine’s “Rethinking Energy” conference is taking place today.
Chang’s doing these awesome little mini interviews named WeSeeYou@ICFF where she talks to people like the Artecnica founders, and where we learn not only what Yves is wearing but what kind of skateboard we can buy from Paul Smith so we can roll together forever.
Each year, ICFF commissions student groups for particular projects on the floor and this year, Parsons students were invited to create the bar and lounge, along with a magazine kiosk. Shown here is the ICFFscape lounge, created with 4,000 yards of webbing–you know, like 150 of those industrial-grade, nylon straps on your backpack.
Be sure to keep your eyes out for terrified design students captured from the other schools’ installations, bound and tied up in the webbing, affectionately referred to as “Parsons Design Jail.”
Friday’s parties certainly didn’t slow down Saturday’s coverage. Here’s a quick recap from our satellite offices…
Core77 has Danish Crafts, and the stunning design school roundup, including an interview with CCA chair Yves Behar, looking as pretty as ever even though he’s shorn a bit of the curls since we saw him last.
MoCoLoco toured the Javits floor. NOTCOT has hundreds of photos up. If you’re preparing to throw down for some design, preview the goods that await you at the designboom mart for all your cassette tape/wallet needs.
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