Monday, July 28, 2008

The Bittersweet End

To finish up my coverage of the ICFF, I'd like to combine a few smaller companies together, each of which had a couple of very cool items.  In the interests of being impartial, I'll go in alphabetical order.

So first up is Gaia & Gino, from Istanbul.  They do a lot of extremely wonderful housewares and art and design objects, so I highly recommend a trip around their website, which they just recently redesigned and relaunched.  I'd discussed them elsewhere before, however, so the new items I really liked were their "Mistic" candelabra/ vase, which is beautifully laboratorial in clear glass, but completely different in this new gold:

The metal is applied very lightly, so from certain angles, it gives off this mysterious, smokey bluish hue.  It makes it a timelessly fascinating and lovely piece, in my opinion.

G&G also have a line called Gino The Dog, which is all this amazing stuff for our pets.  New this year was their "Loop" doggie bed:

For kitties too, I suppose.  It also comes in silver, which is fairly glitzy.  But it can be unsnapped, unfolded, and laid flat for storage or transport.

Gaia & Gino
(Turkey) 90-212-234-4472

Next we have Denmark's Hay, which I actually discovered via their distributor, MOD Objects, who were running the booth (MOD's website is kind of cool, by the way, because the color theme of the homepage images is different each time you go to it).  MOD is mostly doing contract furniture, and Hay's pieces, like most of MOD's offerings, are seriously hypermodern, but there were a couple of striking pieces that I quite liked.  This is their "Mormor" sofa:

I think it's that the vibe is vaguely the interior of a 1970s muscle-car--very groovy--but the combination of the lines, colors, and volumes end up being very 21st Century, somehow.

And one of a number of differently-named lines that all appear to develop a similar idea (and would actually look quite graphically interesting together): "One," "Round One," and this, perhaps the latest in the evolution, "Other One":

There's an ottoman for this, and they can be lined up as a sectional, as well, in different complementary colors and so on.  It's a little bit on the sharp side for me, but I think it's still stunning and I love that deep blue.  It's one of the very vivid primaries that doesn't shock my system.

(Denmark) 459-942-3870

Obviously, a company as huge and established as Kohler doesn't really need my press, but nevertheless I was pretty inspired by their new Karbon faucet:

You should go play around with the animated webpage and watch the videos, they're pretty cool and very well-done.  But while a little bit more industrial than some of their fancier, more voluptuous hardware, it's just about the most flexible, functional, adaptable, useful kitchen faucet imaginable, and for someone who really loves to cook and entertain, I'd think indispensable, as well.


Norway's Mokasser appears to be a young company also doing some very sleek pieces.  Boy, those northern countries sure do know how to do some Modernism, huh?  This is their "Eshu" line.  There's an armchair, ottoman, and loveseat, but I thought the sofa, "250," showed the elegance of its lines best:

Not unexpectedly, I'm having color issues again.  But they show this also in a pale, soft beige which is just exquisite.

Here's their "Whole in One" chair:

Ow, my retinal cones!  I sat in this one for a couple moments toward the end of my exhausting time at the show, and it's totally cradling and comfortable and offered the relaxation I needed.  A sharp square profile with a hyperbola carved out of it, the whole thing canted slightly: very simple, pure geometric relationships, but the entire thing comes together perfectly.

(Norway) 472-260-1944

Doing some remarkably clever work is another very young company from Cincinatti called Refined Sugar Studio, headed by sculptor Matt Kotlarczyk.  First are these small tables called "Albee Remains" tables:

The light fixtures were rescued from Cincinatti's Albee Theater, when it was being demolished in 1977.

--Photo origin unknown.  The arch was moved to Cincinatti's Convention Center, and a flyer from '77 seems to indicate everything in the entire theater was put up for sale.
Kotlarczyk repaired and restored them and enclosed them in a protective acrylic casing to preserve them for all eternity.  The bulbs are very similar to the Edison ones originally used in 1927.  There's even silent exhaust fans in the base to keep the table top from getting too hot.  I think this is so smart.  It talks about our historical, interior architectural legacy, issues of preservation and destruction, display, presentation, and the artistry of old-school ornamentation, the nature of recycling and reclamation, and at the end of it all, it's just an aesthetically beautiful piece.  These are in a limited edition, not surprisingly.  Being remnants of a grand old theater, and giving off such a soft ambient glow, I think these would be delightful in an entertainment room or home theater.

I think his "Eat Me" table was one of the cleverest things at the show:

The glass tabletop sits on 1800 tiny light bulbs.  At each of the six place-settings, a sequencer keeps changing the lights to read in red a number of different words made up of the letters in the word "MEAT" and all having to do with eating.  

The words rotate on a time-delay, or can be hooked up to a microphone to respond to the sounds of your dinner guests.  I got the impression other text could easily be entered in, as well.  This one has silent exhaust fans, as well, to prevent it from getting too hot.  Certainly this would require just the right--even Punk Rock--interior, but the only problem with this one would be getting your dinner party guests to eventually talk about something other than how incredibly awesome and fun your table is.  The table is a sensory experience before the meal even begins.

Refined Sugar Studio

Finally, this is a piece from Stua in Spain.  They're being distributed in the U.S. by Design Within Reach, which is another outfit that doesn't really need my press.  But I thought this deserved mentioning for a couple reasons.  I spoke to the guy at the booth, who said he was the designer--although the chair is credited to Josep Mora, who doesn't look familiar to me.  Anyway, the guy I spoke with was extremely nice and cordial.  I grabbed the opportunity to ask him the question I've mentioned before: "'Within Reach' of whom?" since their prices aren't all that low.  He explained that it's not about price at all, but rather that a lot of this work by smaller European design houses is very difficult to get in the U.S. so DWR makes this stuff more accessible to the North American market.  Oooooohhhhhhh!

Also, the chair is a really great piece of design work.  It's called "Egoa" and "Egoa on Castors":

The wood is somewhat warm here, but it looks somewhat unfriendly to a butt.  I sat in one to speak with the rep, though, and I was really impressed.  The contours of it, and also the fact that it flexes under your weight when you lean back, make it remarkably comfortable.  The hardware, itself, is very sleek and tight, as well:

They also have an upholstered version, which I'm sure would be more practical at a desk over the long term:
Myself, from purely an aesthetic standpoint, I thought the wood was more elegant and dynamic.


There were a few additional companies with designs that were mildly interesting, but who couldn't be bothered to respond to a simple email, even after several attempts on my part.  I suspect they'd be just as unhelpful with potential customers, so I'm not going to waste my time or yours discussing them.

I have one more post from the ICFF on the way that I'm extremely excited about.  Otherwise, that wraps up my coverage for 2008!  Hope you enjoyed it, I know I certainly have.

©2008, Ryan Witte

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