New York Design Week and the 2013 ICFF -- the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the nation's most important expo for modern home decor -- that wrapped up this week will be remembered more for its cheerful mood than cutting-edge designs.
Although designers continued to push boundaries with materials (recycled refrigerator plastic, thermo-formed Corian) and explore 3-D technology, the new looks were more about color, luxurious finishes (copper was king) and a sense of fun (look out, Jonathan Adler).
"Right now, people are more tempted to take a risk and buy something that makes them happy," said Medora Danz, a vice president with Blu Dot.
Indeed, Bernhardt Design set up a large, inviting lounge filled with bright felt furnishings -- a first for the company, according to President Jerry Helling.
And while fairgoers played table tennis at other Javits Center booths, design fans found more fun across town in SoHo, where they strolled through streams of plastic algae installed by artist Stefano Arienti in the new Foscarini showroom. ("I wanted it to be gay," Arienti said.)
At Wanted Design, a young and hip showcase staged a few blocks away from Javits, the Carrot Concept showed chairs that looked made for an ocean-view Malibu party deck. Salvadoran designer Harry Washington of the Carrot Concept spoke of "transmitting the fantastic energy of El Salvador into colorful products that have character."
With consumer's spending more on home goods, designers appeared to be responding to homeowners weary of tough economic times and ready to just have fun.
"Our handmade pieces are a mixture of leisure and art," said Bespoke Global cofounder Pippa McArdle, whose firm showed a luxury backgammon set and a glass foosball table, among other things. "They are for people who don't take themselves too seriously."