Something about this year’s NYCxDesign felt different—the good kind of different. Whether that was simply a result of being on the other side of Covid, or an attempt at following the footsteps of rapidly growing fairs like Salone del Mobile, it felt right for New York to have a lively design week. We are, after all, one of the best design cities in the world (I’m not biased, or anything). I saw shaggy rugs hanging from walls, a lamp with a stone on-and-off button, and, frankly, the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in.
First Stop: Seriously Statement-Making Rugs at Beni
We began the day with a stop-by at Beni’s Greenwich Village showroom, which is in a charming ground-level apartment on West Ninth street—also known as the street I would live on if I could live on any street in the world. The Moroccan rug brand is no stranger to collabs—past collections have been designed with Colin King and Athena Calderone—but its latest launch is a bit more unexpected, with T Magazine’s design director Tom Delavan. Timed with NYCxDesign, the editor’s first foray into product design doesn’t exactly line up with his whitewashed home; he went bold with Tulu-inspired zig zags and checkers in rich hues like magenta and mustard. Yet, the rugs just so happened to look fantastic in his muted home, where many of the campaign images were shot.
Getting up close and personal with the rugs, I can confirm that the high pile wool feels as luscious as its looks.
To no one’s surprise, the showroom is merchandised impeccably, and I'm ready to go home and hang a rug on the wall like a painting.
Second Stop: Smooth-to-the-Touch Furniture and Lighting by Swell Studio
Sharp corners are as irrelevant as cow’s milk within the walls of Love House’s Greenwich Village space. For NYCxDesign, the beloved gallery showcased seven crowd-pleasing pieces by Hudson Valley-based Swell Studio—each defying its material’s typically stubborn qualities (think: Breccia stone, steel, and white oak) to create gentle, rounded edges.
The body of work, entitled The Onna Collection, marks the young studio’s second collection. Pieces were inspired by its founder’s trip to Italy (Onna is short for colonna, meaning column in Italian), and the concept of its tubular shapes colliding. Once learning this, I couldn’t unsee the intersection of pillars that filled the room. And naturally, the rose-hued Breccia stone is sourced straight from Verona.
Because it would have been lazy to do anything else, they went so far as to create a stone on-and-off button. Take notes, Ikea.
Third Stop: Nine Latin American Designers Under One Roof at Omet
You didn’t need a passport to get a taste of Mexico during NYCxDesign. The new CDMX-based collective of nine Latin American designers, Omet, is continuing the country’s tradition of cutting-edge design through exhibitions where guests are encouraged to touch, feel and even lounge in its furniture. I loved how typically mundane household objects were honored, from Mexican hot chocolate whisks in this stool, to mortars and temolotes used to grind grains in this chair.
One of the designers told me that this chair was excellent for getting over a hangover, and while I wasn’t currently battling one, I saw what she meant. After giving it a proper test, I believe I said something along the lines of "This is the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in." And I meant it.
The closer I got to each piece, the more beautiful it became. Materials like nubby bouclé and silky stone were creatively constructed; sofa sections were joined on a diagonal, and a console pieced together like a puzzle.
Fourth Stop: Playing House at Lee Broom
There’s no denying that Lee Broom’s Tribeca apartment is glamorous as hell; pristine ivory wall-to-wall carpeting (much welcome after a day of pavement pounding), not one but three outdoor showers, and furniture and lighting designed by his eponymous brand fill the two-story penthouse. I don’t remember if swanky jazz was echoing through the space, but it may as well have been. If you’re asking yourself, where does Mr Broom keep all of his stuff? The designer spends the majority of his time living in London; this doubles as a pied-à-terre and showroom.
The apartment was in full showroom mode for NYCxDesign, transformed to properly present his new lighting collection: Divine Inspiration. I was most impressed by The Requiem Tube light. Inspired by marble drapery on ancient statues, it’s made from suspended fabric that was dipped in plaster, sculpted, and set until solid. The contrast between such detailed craftsmanship and a simple tube light made it high-low in all the right ways.
It wasn’t all serious. A hanging chair invited guests like myself to take a quick swing, and engage in a fun trust exercise I like to call "will I cause this chain to violently rip out of the ceiling?"
Fifth Stop: A Breath of Fresh Air at Lambert & Fils and Verso
At this point, it was around four-thirty and we had seen a lot, which made the fresh white backdrop and deep reds of Lambert & Fils’ and Verso’s showroom palate cleansing. Warm afternoon light filled the space thanks to its prime corner real estate, as the caterers were quietly preparing for the upcoming night’s festivities. The showroom is shared between two brands, but rather than competing, the industrial light fixtures, shaggy wool yarn rugs, lacquered cabinets, and neon-glazed vases complimented one another.
The lighting was designed by Lambert & Fils in collaboration with Zoe Mowat; glass tubes set in solid stone are meant to resemble bridges. Accompanying pieces were by Venice-based studio Zaven, whose use of rich, warm tones and color-blocked patterns created a space reminiscent of the Mark Rothko gallery at the Tate Modern, with an added dose of optimism.
Sixth Stop: A Quick Peek at Areaware’s Upcoming Products
While Areaware is best known for its gifts and accessories, the brand was all about its furniture collabs this NYCxDesign. Taking over the Lower East Side’s concept shop Colbo, new colorways of Sophie Collé’s stools were shown, in good company with never before seen stools by Steven Bukowski, all cascading down its cement steps. Neither of the designs are available to shop yet, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for Bukowski’s mini cobalt design, modeled after traditional milking stools.
Upcoming lighting from Talbot & Yoon was also on display. Talk about a personality piece, it looked like the lamp could come to life and play a starring role in Pixar's next film.
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