In its third year, NYCxDesign, which held more than 300 events in New York City's five boroughs from May 8-19, boasted a strong Southern California presence. Some four dozen local designers and manufacturers exhibited at the 27th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair, while a handful of Los Angeles home décor firms exhibited in the Wanted Design and Sight Unseen OFFSITE shows.
"People in New York City are always surprised when we tell them that we call Los Angeles home," says Echo Park lighting designer Brendan Ravenhill, who at ICFF showed a self-produced short film documenting the process behind his new Grain Drum pendant lamp, which is made in L.A. "Most New Yorkers expect young brands to hail from Brooklyn, but we are proud to represent a city where industry and manufacturing are still a vibrant part of our economy."
For Southern California designers and manufacturers exhibiting in the New York City shows, the simplicity of midcentury modernism and 21st century industrial style remains an inspiration. At ICFF, the Los Angeles lighting manufacturer Troy RLM melded the two with the Structure System— a customizable system of steel conduit and fittings that can accommodate rustic steel barn lights or Danish Modern pendants.
Steve Nadell, president of Troy-CSL Lighting, says the product allows consumers nearly unlimited design options for size, length, shape and color. "And the entire system can be produced in our California factory in about 60 days."
Designers who manufacture locally are also stepping up their game. In previous years, L.A. talents displayed work made from humble materials such as plywood and metal wire influenced by 1950s and 1960s furniture. Now, they are adding more luxurious materials and finishes to their creations.
At ICFF, designer Gaurav Nanda of Bend Goods showed his Lucy wire chairs with gold and jewel-colored metallic plating and leather seat covers, and Reza Feiz of Phase Design added marble and opaque architectural Spandrel glass to top his Trolley and Downtown tables available with metal bases in polished chrome, smoked brass and burnt copper finishes. Exhibiting at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, designer Brian Thoreen showed a lean brass credenza clad in black rubber with bulging handles.
Other Los Angeles designers at Sight Unseen OFFSITE put a contemporary spin on less-explored design styles and periods. Michael Felix's Friends stool and Flora sofa had a dash of New Wave-era minimalism and Brendan Sowersby, founder of 100xbetter, showed the Group 6 table with a bronze glass top that echoed the days of disco. Matthew Sullivan of AQQ presented furniture that recalled early 20th century Viennese parlor seating and tables in the style of the 1990s Italian design movement Memphis.
Though Los Angeles has a long tradition of earthy studio carpentry, work, ceramics, glass and weaving, the work on display in the New York shows was more refined in shape and vibrant in color than the granola-crunchy California crafts of yesteryear.
DeJong & Co offered elegant Danish-accented salt and pepper mills in turned oak and black walnut. The designer and artist Mimi Jung displayed a sculptural room divider woven with brilliant teal yarn, while Los Angeles glassblower Joe Cariati turned out elegant bottles and decanters in vivid yellow and emerald.
And Bari Ziperstein, the Glassell Park-based founder of B Zippy & Co., showed ceramics that reflected the geometry of postmodern design and pushed the envelope into Southwestern territory with a collection of vases in a shade rarely seen in decorative arts since the 1980s: dusty rose.