Exhibitors at New York Design Week 2021 pulled out all the stops

Big Apple Energy

Held from November 11 through 18, this year’s New York Design Week offered up a diverse program of furniture fairs and boutique showcases. Stakeholders in all facets of the stratified design industry, whether it be collectible design galleries, independent makers, luxury manufacturers, or staple brands, put their best foot forward. Fully immersive installations joined long-anticipated product launches, shelved until recently due to the pandemic. Though smaller and less international in scope than in its usual iteration, this year’s city-wide event was as rich as ever. Anchored around ICFF, Wanted Design, and BDNY—fairs that cohabitated at the Jacob Javits Center—the week-long event permeated many parts of town.

Though the crowds might not have inundated SoHo’s Green Street like they used to, the area’s many showrooms organized more intimate activations, chances to better experience new wares and engage in meaningful conversations. Overall, exhibitors themed their showcases based on the idea of renewed social interaction and convivial exchange, conditions that are essential to this domain. As with most events in the strange scramble of this fall season, quality superseded quantity at New York Design Week. Here are a few of our highlights.

Palais des Glaces by Atelier Zébulon Perron for Lambert & Fils (Arseni Khamzin)

Undeterred by not being able to activate its new Tribeca flagship in 2020, preeminent Montreal-based lighting brand Lambert & Fils mounted a stellar display to celebrate its new collection of extruded metal luminaires, which will be launched early next year. The Palais des Glaces staging was developed by 2021 AN Top 50 honoree and long-time brand collaborator Atelier Zébulon Perron to evoke the scaffolding that is ubiquitous in New York. Abutted by glass walls that extended the mise-en-scene beyond the confines of the showroom, this fragmented architectural element was created using an interlocking system of powder-coated steel beams.

Cast in a moody red, the room-within-a-room armature not only helped suspend a series of gothic-style candle holders but also facilitated social interaction. Visitors could catch covert glimpses of each other as they approached the installation. This was even more apparent at night when the hanging torches served as the only source of light. This dramatic, meticulously-crafted vignette was by far best in show at New York Design Week. It’s rare to see such scenographic stagings at this event. But it’s no surprise that Lambert & Fils would be the one to break the mold. The company has consistently goes the extra mile when it comes to product displays.

Le Tapis Nomade by Atelier de Troupe and cc-tapis

(Mattia Greghi)

Celebrated Los Angeles design studio Atelier de Troupe recently teamed up with hip Milanese carpet manufacturer cc tapis to develop a new geometrically-inspired collection. Debuted at the former’s SoHo showroom, the Le Tapis Nomade collection finds itself at the cross roads of different cultures, if not at least that of Atelier de Troupe founder Gabriel Abraham’s diverse background. With nods to France, Italy, and California, the new series combines different territorial references. Produced in Nepal, the tactile and formally-distilled runner also draws from a conceptual dimension. Hints of Berber culture and its own nomadically-inspired carpets blend with evocations of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1975 film, The Passenger. Ultimately, the central design transcends these distinctions and stands on its own.

The rug, available in gold, forest, and sand variations was deftly photographed in Milan at the Bruno Mangiarotti and Angelo Morassutti-designed Casa a tre cilindri. The mid-century modern locale was the ideal backdrop for a campaign that communicates the collection’s overall narrative but New York Design Week served as the perfect platform for its in-person debut.

The Current Show curated by Marcus and Tess De Paula (Courtesy The Current Show)

Bringing together an extensive roster of talents working in Brooklyn during New York Design Week, The Current Show demonstrated the borough’s enduring creative prowess. Curated by Marcus and Tess De Paula, the exhibition featured works by 13 local talents who operate at the critical intersection of art and design. By implementing bespoke techniques and uncommon materials, these independent creatives are at the forefront of their respective disciplines. A pendant created using a cluster of out-of-production Edison bulbs—Jen Lewin’s Anti Chandelier—joined Aaron Scott’s masterfully carved wood tete-a-tete bench. Chapter & Verse’s perpendicularly-layered leather room divider played well with Natalia Landowska’s uniquely textured ceramic wall sconces. William Coggin’s entirely amorphous sculptures juxtaposed Marcus De Paula’s monumental light-tube-embedded, stone-fragment sculptures. Technological innovation and a streamlined aesthetic were evident in Jason Krugman’s seemingly weightless Basket Light Sculpture, James Dieter’s versatile Elbo light, and Breakfast’s AI-responsive Empire State wall piece.

Current [aimed] to present a cross-sectional snapshot of these designers’ evolving practices – some emerging, others established with dozens of past exhibitions worldwide – collectively representing this moment in contemporary design and representing the talent in this area,” said Tess De Paula. The Current Show was mounted in a sprawling Dumbo storefront supplied by development company Two Trees Management.

William Gray collection by Meyer Davis for Stellar Works and custom wallcoverings for Calico (Courtesy Stellar Works)

Renowned multidisciplinary design studio Meyer Davis began collaborations with New York bespoke wallpaper producer Calico and Shanghai-based furniture manufacturer Stellar Works separately. It just so happen that the two companies decided to join forces and open a Tribeca storefront together earlier this year. For the bicoastal firm, New York Design Week seemed like the perfect opportunity to launch collections developed with both, side by side, in the shared retail space. The holistic presentation demonstrated a trend-forward vision with bold earth tones and pared-back organicism.

Conceived around the identity of a potential user, the William Grey universe of products incorporates warm, well-crafted furnishings that emulate simplicity and subtle eclecticism. Imagined for both hospitality and residential sectors under the guise of Stellar Works, The Hugo, Varick, Enzo, Finn, Trinity, and Eclipse collections embody the same aesthetic vocabulary as does the striking nature-inspired Wilds, and cut-out-shape Ephemera wallcoverings series, developed for Calico. The overall display took visitors directly into Grey’s world and illustrated the full potential of the new co-retail model rapidly taking hold of the industry.