The International Contemporary Furniture Fair beckons. In a bit over a month, 400 established and emerging design brands from more than 25 countries will gather to exhibit furniture, lighting, textiles, and surface finishes for residential, contract, and hospitality venues. It's a marquee event, perhaps the best North American showcase for progressive, eco-conscious, outside-the-box design.
The event is also a double-bill with WantedDesign Manhattan, a premier venue and international platform for emerging designers. The "Launch Pad" event enables propitious intersections between the latter and manufacturers, "to discover fresh ideas and potential products to develop."
This year welcomes the work of 66 aspiring designers, artists, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs (many of them embodying all of these qualities and more). Here are 10 that particularly caught our eye.
Pasadena-based Lincoln Chen is an ArtCenter College of Design graduate and a Grad Spatial Experience Design student who manages to make some pretty cool furnishings and art/design objects, like these very slick and impeccably designed chairs that expertly toe the line between 1960 and 2023
Lounge Chairs by Lincoln Chen Design.
An interdisciplinary artist who's "rooted in glass," Megan Biddle digs materials and the way they inspired experimentation and encourage process refinement. Her Dark Matter Glass pieces are arresting and unusual, mysterious objects whose ultimate application remains up for grabs (I vote for pendant lighting!).
Dark Matter Glass Sculptures by Megan Biddle.
A designer who "helps objects find their purpose," Joey Zeledón offers a good dose of humor with his pragmatism. Below is "A closet you can sit on." Other Zeledón objects include a mixer with integrated flashlight (presumably for those who do their baking in the dark or at a campsite) and a side table with an integrated HP printer.
Joey Zeledón. A closet you can sit on.
fiVO Design (VO stands for veteran-owned, to honor the owner's service in the Navy) employs an Infiniti Joinery System to create desks, bookcases, bed frames, and other furnishings as well as to fuel your imagination: "a collection of innovative, functional, and user-friendly furniture with a modern style that is complimentary to most decors."
fiVO Modular Furniture System.
Here's CK Studio's Mid Side table. With a transparent, barely-there base, Mid Side invites users to add pops of color with choice of top—an eclectic and clever piece from a woman-owned, Tasmania-based studio with the moxie to make their logo look like Pac-Man. They've definitely got my vote.
CK Studio Mid Side table.
Cassie Builds It has a 3D printer, an architect's sensibility, and, it would seem, a sculptor's soul. This Hell's Kitchen-based designer brings all of her skills and machinery to bear to concoct intricate, extraordinary lighting.
Light Sculpture by Cassie Builds It.
We don't know much about Ernesto Pastore. His Website simply links to this undulating tour de force of a chair that looks to be made of bent steel. We'll just say we're taken by work that seems to channel the spirit of Platner without becoming imitative.
Chair. Ernesto Pastore.
Jangir Maddadi has Grace. This collection, inspired by Swedish yacht building traditions—and in fact constructed by yacht builders—features solid Teak with a captivating and hypnotic pattern: "a gentle companionship between steel, waves, and wood." Jangir Maddadi is a Swedish multidisciplinary design bureau specializing in product design, interior architecture, and public space."
Grace collection by Jangir Maddadi.
Layzers is Luke Simmons, a designer, entrepreneur, and "lighting nerd." Layzers' "Illuminator" floor lamp represents Simmons' first foray into the decorative market. Illuminator has the charm of Wal*E and the practiced perfection of the sun: no kidding, all of Simmons lighting is designed to approximate the varied color temperatures of the burning star at the center of our universe, "producing the most human-centric light output possible."
The Illuminator. By Luke Simmons of Layzers.
Michal Korchowiec closes our list with lighting that's "a galaxy of possibilities." These luminous lights are made from the repurposed shades of vintage glass fixtures dating from the 20s through the 80s. At the heart and the interior are glass filters made out of colored utility glass that alternately change the color of the bulb: "anthropomorphic sculptures that embody the therapeutic in objects, taking on the character of friendly sprites, or benevolent visitors from distant planets, delighting in living among the people."
1.0 Lighting by Michel Korchowiec.