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Editor’s picks at International Contemporary Furniture Fair

ICFF
At the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, the nation’s premier exhibition of modern home furnishings, more than 600 designers and manufacturers presented their collections. Here are some of our picks: The new firm Cate & Nelson showed its first piece, a cheeky chair in the form of a giant swatch book. The aluminum frame holds Ultrasuede that can be flipped, changing the color of the chair and shifting the padding from the seat to the back, or vice versa.

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ICFF
The Echo lounge chair from a small New Jersey firm called Plug is built without any fasteners: Wood slats slip into the metal frame. Pieces of felted wool are slipped between the slats to provide a cushioned seat; thicker pieces can be inserted at the neck, lower back or other areas, allowing customers to customize their chair. The wool inserts also can be plucked out, washed and reinserted.

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ICFF
Molo Design, the Canadian firm best known for its Softwall room dividers and furniture made of accordion-like stretches of paper, introduced the Softlight collection, its first lighting fixtures. The lamps are made from translucent, paper-like pieces of polyethylene and have a flexible honeycomb structure that can be shaped into different configurations. A tall, pear-shaped piece, for example, can be squished into a bowl.

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ICFF
The San Francisco-based design and manufacturing firm Council has spent the last year refining its Periodic Table, part of the 2008 collection showcased at ICFF. Giant reclaimed wood blocks have been coated in pure silver; the result is visible wood grain with a metallic sheen and a few intriguing spots of oxidation. A clear coat finish prevents further oxidation.

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ICFF
Classic furniture designer Richard Schultz premiered a new line of outdoor pieces inspired by the vertical lines of a garden fence. The powder-coated steel chair comes in high- and low-back versions, both of which cast interesting shadows on the ground; optional cushions are available.

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ICFF
Los Angeles-based Orange22 premiered its Botanist Designer Series, which called upon Karim Rashid, Yves Behar and six others to devise a different treatment to the same forms: minimalist steel end tables, cocktail tables and benches. Claude Zellweger, design director of the design firm One & Co. in San Francisco, explored the role of decoration in contemporary design. His piece, titled “no ornamentation,” features a manifesto against recent fads: “No baroque, no crochet, no doilies … no fleur-de-lis, no stripes.” The cocktail table’s words, laser-cut into the steel, end with the declaration: “No frills, no fuss, no decoration. Just a low table.” Zellweger points out the irony in his own piece: The lettering ultimately becomes a form of decoration itself.

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ICFF
The group mmckenna premiered BettyLou, a rechargeable lighting fixture that can be used with almost any wineglass. The design calls upon a high-powered LED whose brilliance is bounced off a reflector placed in the bottom of the glass. The LED is rechargeable. Representatives said the piece would be available in July.

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ICFF
A group of young architects has formed a Los Angeles design company called Arktura to manufacture low-cost furniture using new technology. Among the pieces displayed at ICFF: tables and benches made of steel that have been laser-cut with intricacy. The Nebula table by Chris Kabatsi is a geometric starburst of thin steel lines powder-coated in glossy white and topped with glass.

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ICFF
UP závody, a Czech design and manufacturing company founded in 1920 and relaunched in 2007, showed the Klára chair by Klára Šípková. Seven overlapping steel squares form the back and seat.

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ICFF
One of the recurring themes at ICFF this year was the merging of technology and hand craftsmanship. In this piece by Iannone Design, a computer-controlled routing machine methodically created a dot-matrix-like pattern in the bamboo tabletop. Those holes, some as small as a toothpick prick, were then filled in, by hand, with darker wood.

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ICFF
Offi premiered a prototype for Paket by San Diego design Srdjan Simic. Envisioned as a solution for small spaces, the collection includes four stools that fold and slip onto the table frame. When the tabletop’s four extensions are folded down as well, the entire collection forms a single tower that can be stowed in a corner.

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