ICFF - Always full of Surprises
Thanks to the second Kravet sponsored "Blogfest 2012," I had a chance to navigate the aisles of International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York (ICFF), which seems to get better every year.
What's best about it is that not constricted by too many commercial considerations. Designers can let their hair down and do - with more innovative, even experimental, designs pointing the way to more personalized furnishings which, when successful, ultimately are assimilated by larger, less adventurous companies.
Modern design dominates at least 90% of the offerings, with traditional not just a seeming afterthought but actually looking either quaint, lampooned as an untimely curiosity - or, in at least one case, even looking creepy. The lampooning was done with Victorian furniture frames lacquered white and covered in neo colored upholstery as well as white silhouettes of a grandfather clocks recessed into a shocking pink case. The name of the collection, Inside Out, says it all.
Silhouettes were also prominently used for pillows and wall coverings at Dupenny featuring framed portraits of Victorians for an all-over pattern or of multiple dachshunds at Eaton-Made-in-England. Illustration was a noticeable element for wall coverings, including an overall panorama of a peopled opera interior and dimensional mural of a full garden scene and another of framed vintage portraits at Trove.
As for textiles, two clear trends stood out: One, a proliferation of textiles and rugs in particular with random paintbrush designs. I noticed the same in upholstery fabrics at this past High Point Market. Here at CIFF, one company, aptly named Rug Art, had its entire presentation inventory a variation of the trend. Sometimes, it's a blending of brush strokes, at other times they make for splashy abstract designs. Most were rendered on a material new to me: Bamboo Silk.
The other: A return to Native American weaves in fabrics and rugs or skilled adaptations thereof. Margo Selby's wovens stood out for their colorful integration of texture. Apadama featured convincing repros of primitive vintage wovens made in Turkey. Most elaborate and exciting in their cultural variety were woven textiles and rugs shown by Inigo Elizadie, a firm based in Manila, the Phillippines, with a gathering of native wovens taken from its home town and neighboring territories.
The trend may accelerate as Ralph Lauren is picking up the thread again in apparel and desert related furnishings popped up in High Point, both last October and this April.
Whimsy is another element which comes through at ICFF. There is Diamantini & Domeniconi, which makes fun of clocks - all kinds - from cuckoo versions to modern pieces - they tick along at a humoroius pace. The company also shows at Maison & Objet as well as the just past Salone di Mobili.
Xorel's pleated paper shelter garnered much attention. But to prove that even large companies can have a light touch and a sense of humor, Kohler had a large representation at the show emphasizing it's love for color.in bath fixtures. To make its point, Kohler cut white plastic bathtubs in half and fitted them out as mini sofas - used with great enthusiasm and gratitude by the attending crowd.
That's not to say that there are not serious contenders for some very beautiful furniture. These would include a series of gravity defying chairs by Laurie Beckerman and some splashy modern forms in high gloss black copper or gold at DesignLush.
Never a dull moment for ICFF.