Best Of New York City Design Week 2016

If you like it then you better put a rainbow on it.

Yesterday marked the end of NYCxDesign, the 12-day festival where designers, architects, and makers take over the city in a flurry of trade shows, studio visits, exhibitions, and parties. Each year the festival closes with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, one of the largest furniture shows in the United States and the most established show of the week. But off-sites like WantedDesign, Collective Design, and Sight Unseen Offsite have quickly become go-to spots in their own right to seek out emerging talent. We hit them all, and here’s one takeaway: No matter where you were, you were sure to find something iridescent. It’s 1995 all over again (and we’re good with that).


There’s also a ton of clever, inventive, beautiful design out there that has us excited about the year ahead. Below glimpse some of our favorites (including a few in rainbow hues).

Mashing Mesh by Zhoujie Zhang (Collective Design)

via Gallery ALL

Using computer algorithms, the Shanghai-based designer Zhoujie Zhang models the flow of water and uses the digital model to fabricate faceted metal sculptures.


Trace collection by Nendo (Collective Design)

Akihiro Yoshida via Nendo

The tremendously prolific Japanese designer Oki Sato of the Tokyo firm Nendo exhibited these cabinets, which show the path of movement that doors and drawers make within the case goods.

Norway x New York (Sight Unseen Offsite)


Thinking of design as a type of cultural diplomacy, Sight Unseen cofounders Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer paired five independent New York designers with five independent Norwegian designers and invited them to collaborate on a piece together. While traveling through Norway, Khemsurov and Singer wondered why there were relatively few studios manufacturing independently. One of the challenges was a dearth of industrial manufacturing in the Nordic country. Through the project, the Norwegians learned how to map out and discover fabricators and how to create products with industrial manufacturing in mind, and the Americans gained insight into, and connections to, the European market.

“This taught us to take control over our products,” says Vera Kleppe of the Bergen-based studio Vera & Kyte. “If you’re dependent on a brand [to produce your design], it’s tough. Designers make good products, but they often don’t get picked up.”

Moveable Shelf by Norma (Sight Unseen Offsite)

Diana Budds for Fast Company

Furniture that can withstand a move or make it a bit easier is a perpetual interest of ours. This modular red oak bookshelf—there are 36 different configurations–by Los Angeles’s Norma Studio screws apart and has no separate hardware, thanks to threads carved directly into the components.

Iridescent Table by New Tendency (Sight Unseen Offsite)

Diana Budds for Fast Company

Here’s a brilliant example of the iridescent sheen covering furniture, lighting, and accessories everywhere we looked at NYCxDesign. (See what we mean? The ’90s are back with a vengeance, friends.) New Tendency, a young design studio out of Berlin exhibited this glass table. To achieve the prismatic look, a special coating is embedded into the glass as it’s fabricated (as opposed to being a coating applied only to the surface or a film sandwiched between glass sheets).


Nacht Wallpaper by Grow House Grow (ICFF)

via Grow House Grow

Katie Deedy, founder of the Brooklyn wallpaper company Grow House Grow, came across an old book from the 1500s called The Book of Miracles, which included artistic depictions of celestial events and weather phenomenon such as eclipses, comets, and tornadoes. In a “gentle interpretation of the text,” Deedy created a handmade wallpaper that looks like stars in the night sky thanks to metallic pigments.

Spacecrafted Rugs by Jan Kath (ICFF)


The abstract pattern on this rug is actually an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Focal Cameras at Tools for Everyday Life (ICFF)

Diana Budds for Fast Company

Launching soon on Kickstarter, the Focal camera riffs on traditional pinhole cameras, which capture images without using a lens. It’s relatively easy to make one on your own, but it’ll have a scrappy look. Josh South and James Benham, students at Northumbria University’s School of Design, made a handsome camera that uses 35mm film and is sturdy enough to throw in a bag and use on the go.


Shore Rugs (ICFF)

Diana Budds for Fast Company

Made from beautifully colored cushy silicone cord, Shore Rugs feel plush underfoot and serve a practical purpose: They serve as anti-fatigue mats for standing desks and other areas that require people to be on their feet for extended periods of time, and don’t look like a hideous hardware store purchase.

Office System by Uhuru Design (ICFF)

via Uhuru Design

The New York-based design company was hired by companies like Time and Vice to kit out their offices with furniture that was more craft-oriented and unique than the standard-issue office systems from Knoll and Herman Miller. Taking the knowledge developed through that custom work, the company developed a new furniture system, which had a preliminary debut at ICFF before its official launch during NeoCon. The richly stained wood worktops have a more residential sensibility but built-in cable management and privacy partitions make them office friendly.

Movable Furniture by Bernhardt and Art Center College of Design (ICFF)

Diana Budds for Fast Company

This furniture series was designed to be movable and reconfigurable. For example, the sofa pulls apart into individual chairs, the table splits into two desks, and the ottomans have handles to make them easy to drag around. The sound absorbing panels move up and down like a window blind.


Folded Vessels by Good Thing (ICFF)

via Good Thing

Designed by Chen & Kai for the Brooklyn company Good Thing, the Folded Vessels offer an alternative to shelves for displaying and storing books.

Libs Elliott Quilt Workshop (WantedDesign Brooklyn)


To create the geometric patterns on her quilts, Toronto-based designer Libs Elliott uses code to randomly generate shapes. For WantedDesign Industry City, she took a different approach and invited children to design their own quilt squares, which were then sewn together–human-made randomness.

Saber by Richard Clarkson (WantedDesign)

via Richard Clarkson

This design visualizes sound waves. The frequency and pattern settings can be changed by tapping the light.


Lunar Table by Florestan Schuberth (ICFF)

German designer Florestan Schuberth found the glass for his cosmic table from a company that makes sun protection windows for buildings. Taking its name from the 1966 NASA Lunar Orbiter program, the table’s tinted glass deepens toward the center, mimicking the gathering darkness experienced by a rocket launching into space. Schuberth’s design was selected to show at ICFF through a contest sponsored by the show and Bernhardt design.

Champ Stool by Visibility (ICFF)


Winner of the ICFF Editor’s Award for portability, the simple, stackable Champ stool is perfect for long studio tables. As homage to Alvar Aalto’s Artek Stool 60, the Champ has three legs made of bent steel that arch elegantly into a wooden base. It’s the creation of Brooklyn-based studio Visibility, whose designs seemed to be all over the fair this year, for the New York-based company Matter.

Italic Furniture Series by Yield (ICFF)

via Yield Design

The St. Augustine, Florida-based product design duo Yield has broken into the furniture market with a series that puts to use their custom Italic Bracket hardware. The angular metal shelving bracket allows for various modular and customizable furniture, such as this two-tiered coffee table (above), as well as an A-frame shelving unit. Both ship flat with the hardware preassembled on dowels.

Monstera by Lars Beller Fjetland (WantedDesign)

via Beller

Part of the A Few Good Things exhibition at WantedDesign featuring Norwegian designers, Lars Beller Fjetland‘s Monstera cutlery series merges cutting-edge techniques with regional craftsmanship. Pairing up with Theodor Olsen Sølvvareverksted, Norway’s oldest silverware producer, Beller chose unused cutlery designs from the 1950s then used a combination of 3-D printing and cold forging to produce them for the first time in his new collection.

Heart Bloom Rogier Arents (WantedDesign)

via Rogier Arents

In the corner of WantedDesign Manhattan, Rotterdam-based designer Rogier Arents had set up a biofeedback installation, Heart Bloom, which collects heart rate data and visualizes it with a mechanized pen plotter. Visitors were invited to clamp a heart rate sensor to their figure and let the machine create a custom artwork to take home. Meanwhile, Arents is collecting all of the data to make a large print of collective heartbeats from all over the world.

Frost by CIAV & Steven Haulenbeek (WantedDesign Brooklyn)

Chicago-based designer Steven Haulenbeek was paired up with the International Glass Art Center in Meisenthal, France, for the Transatlantic Creative Exchange exhibition at WantedDesign Brooklyn. Together, they created a series of vessels by blowing glass into hand-carved ice molds (a signature Haulenbeek technique) formed in snow.

Mush-Lume light by Danielle Trofe (WantedDesign Brooklyn)

Biology meets design in this lamp by Brooklyn-based Danielle Trofe Design, made from combining seed husks and corn stalks with liquid mushroom mycelium and letting the material grow for several days in custom molds.

Broken Shapes by Nobel Truong (ICFF)

We’ll leave you off with this psychedelic eye candy, courtesy of L.A.-based designer Nobel Truong and her rainbow-colored acrylic furniture line.