Monday, May 11, 2009

Report from BKLYN Designs 2009

This year's BKLYN Designs was short and sweet. The 7th-annual co-production of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and auster*events, it presented work by 40 Brooklyn-based designers and craftspeople from May 8-10 in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Compared with last year when the show sprawled through three buildings and one huge outdoor tent, this year the whole enchilada was wrapped up inside St. Anne's Warehouse, with two children's furniture designers set up on the steps of Jane's Carousel. (There was also a showcase of "green design" inside a high-end kitchen store, but when I went it had closed early, so unfortunately I didn't get to see this section at all.)

Highlights this year included:

Students from Pratt always have a nice spot to show their experimental work. Stand-outs this year included the very comfortable tubular steel and nylon "Through" chaise by Thomas Stern (pictured top) and the round reclaimed-sweater-covered soft "Salvation" stools by Sara Ebert (above, img sourced here).

Working with heavier timbers salvaged from old buildings and construction sites, the newly-formed RE-CO BKLYN (Reclaimed Collaborative Brooklyn) is a joint effort of Roger Benton of Benton Custom (a veteran of the Greenjeans Fall Furniture Festival held Oct. '08 at the Brooklyn Flea) and David Siegel of Boo-Coup (see below). (Img sourced here.)

Boo-Coup is using bamboo plywood and creating texture in the outer layer of the wood, then finishing it in bold crayola colors. Really fun and different.

Always a show stand-out, Uhuru (who also showed during the Furn Fest) showed their latest creation, the Standard Chair. Pairing wooden Louis XVI chair backs found at Build It Green with steel seats they fabricated in their Red Hook workshop, the chairs remind me of Stark's Ghost Chair, but updated with texture, detail, and color.

Another Furn Fest veteran Scott Behr of TMRnyc presented a line of SideWired Tables, small end tables outfitted with power outlets. Smart!

Brave Space Design presented an insanely complex hexagonal coffee table made from the triangular strips of wood removed when making the bevel on their shelves. This table is made from over 5000 pieces of wood.... (Furn Fest vets? Yup.)

It was refreshing to see Flavor Paper's colorful booth filled with their sort of nouveau baroque wallpaper designs (including two scratch-n-sniff varieties!) They are moving up to Brooklyn from New Orleans -- welcome, guys!

Eric Manigian always goes his own way. This year he showed an astonishing table made from several sections of spalted hardwood (maple?) joined together in a ring. (Note that the table is unfinished - those aren't the intended legs.)

EcoSystems, who showed flat-pack chairs last year, had a very clever piece: a dining room table that transforms into seating. These guys are definitely ones to watch.

Takeshi Miyakawa's shelving to the ceiling caught my imagination and was perhaps my favorite piece in the show.

Among the several labor-intensive, one-of-a-kind pieces shown throughout the show, the Nebu Chandelier at um's booth was especially amazing. It's made of 250 antique wine glasses in various colors, shapes, and styles, hung upside-down on a stylized aluminum rack frame. Yowza.

In the eco-friendly furniture for kids category, Casa Kids (left) and Argington (right) showed nice modern cribs that convert into youth beds, great little chairs, and good looking changing tables and cabinets.

A notable thread this year: 3-legged stools and tripod floor lamps. The stools I liked, especially um's Milking Stool (pictured). But there was too little variation among the tripod floor lamp designs for me -- it's a known fact that designers borrow from each other freely, but in this case it was a little silly to find three almost-identical lamps in three different booths.

As a final note, and as might be expected, a great deal of the furniture shown involved salvaged wood. This has become a very identifiable Brooklyn motif. We've seen a lot of the slats-of-reclaimed-wood-bonded-together look over the past few years, and we saw more of it again this year executed with varying degrees of success. It's worth noting that it appears some of the originators of this idea have moved on and are experimenting with new ways of using different sorts of reclaimed materials.

I love watching the evolution of Brooklyn design up-close, and look forward to what's to come...!

Posted and images (unless otherwise noted) by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

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