"Our founding goal is to make good design less elitist and more accessible," says Charles Trotter, founder and executive producer of CA Boom, a trade show that exposes the public to envelope-pushing independent designers. Since its inception in 2004, CA Boom has introduced lay audiences to everything from eco-friendly prefab homes to framed digital artwork that disguises flat-screen TVs. Not every exhibitor becomes an overnight success—"Some of them don't even realize they're in business yet," Trotter says—but the show itself continues to explode. CA Boom 4 runs March 30 to April 1 in Santa Monica, California's Barker Hangar. Some highlights:
PIE's Bannavis Andrew Sribyatta was so impressed by CA Boom 1 that he quit his job as an architect to design furniture full time. His unlikely muse? Water hyacinth, one of the world's most invasive weeds. Simply removing it from lakes and waterways is an environmental service. Turning these lemons into lemonade is an art. His sensuous Sushi Daybed ($4,000), one of five pieces made from dried water hyacinth, is meant to be rested on the way a piece of raw fish nests atop a ball of rice.
#21 (Bird-deterrent icing)
by Yuichiro Nishizawa
Nishizawa, an artist, uses creative design to tackle the challenges of urban life. With #21 ($10 per foot-long strip), he brings an artist's eye to the problem of pigeons roosting on windowsills. "I'm always interested in bringing art into daily life," he says. Nishizawa has hand-molded nontoxic plastic into pointy dollops of frosting that perform the same function as those ubiquitous-but-ugly bird spikes found on city ledges.
Bushel Series lighting
by Whyr'hymer Furniture
These unique lamps ($500) feature a thin wood-veneer shade made from traditional vegetable baskets. Each Whyr'hymer (the name is a mispronunciation of Weimaraner) lamp, chair, bed, or bureau is individually handcrafted by actor-turned-furniture-designer Brandon Morrison and comes with a time-lapse video of its creation.
More than 7,500 people attended last year's CA Boom show. The New York equivalent, BKLYN Designs, will be held May 11-13. Last year, it attracted more than 6,000 visitors.
A version of this article appeared in the March 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.