As the glimpses of the cold winter subdue and the colorful tulips bloom in Central Park, we're ready for warmer days and the emergence of citywide events that help bring the city back to life – Frieze, NYCxDesign and ICFF, among others.
The Sharp A&D team was on site this week at ICFF, scoping out some of the emerging design trends and collaborating with our client, the National Kitchen + Bath Association (NKBA), on a noteworthy panel session.The panel, Designing for the Modern Lifestyle: The Intersection of Technology and Design in the Kitchen & Bath, was moderated by Jaime Derringer, founder of Design Milk, and featured insight from the 2016 NKBA K+B Insiders.
After a brief introduction, the panel moved into discussing the role of technology in design, and the innovative products are at the forefront of this transition. Young Huh noted that there's a generational divide when it comes to incorporating technology. Older individuals are more hesitant to incorporate technology in design, while younger generations have come to expect it. "You have to think about technology from the start when incorporating tech in design," she commented. Alberto Villalobos drew a parallel between home design and the fashion industry, noting that incorporating tech into clothing has become a trend as well.
With a nod to our increased connectivity, Brian Patrick Flynn mentioned that clients often ask him for creative ways of charging their electronics, especially millennial men: "A lot of millennial men will embrace technology and are willing to invest in it."
Outside of the kitchen, bathrooms are also seeing an influx in high-tech solutions. Users are looking for a spa-like bathroom experience and are often willing to splurge in the bath. Here Brian coined the term Stealth Wealth, where users are more inclined to splurge on something in the bath that is a utilitarian task upgraded, as it focuses on health and wellness. For example, heated floors take the simple step of getting out of the shower and turn it into a more luxurious experience. And while many clients don't want to sacrifice design to be environmentally friendly, with beautiful new technology, it's increasingly possible to have the best of both worlds.
Touring around ICFF, we were struck by innovation spanning beyond the kitchen and bath as well. …. We continued to notice gray tones throughout the show, and many of the pieces were 70's inspired with bold colors and harsh angles.
Many student pieces were particularly innovative, like the Caterpillar Lounge by Griffin Boswell and Ruth Henry. The curvy lines and cozy fabric tempted us to take a seat and try these chairs out!
More seasoned designers displayed their talents too, like Libby Schrum, who designed the Sibling Bench. This bench, which is made of wood with straight grains, uses no nails and was featured in the NY Times a couple of years ago. The curves of the bench and seamless look of the wood were in juxtaposition with many of the angular pieces at ICFF.
The giant clothespin Molletta Bench by Baldessari e Baldessari was incredibly eye-catching. This piece utilized different materials and bold orange metal in the middle, stopping visitors in their tracks for a photo opp. Here we see the trend of interesting shapes and seating in a non-traditional form.
A change of pace in the showroom was the Japanese Tea Ceremony Room by Able & Partners for Tokyo Design Week in New York. While most of the show was modern and edgy, this display highlighted the intricacies of handmade craftsmanship. Visitors at ICFF were encouraged to walk closely to the exhibit to appreciate the detail of the design.
Milk Stand by Design Milk was frequently filled with plenty of visitors. It featured a large seating area and individual vendors selling their art pieces. In the chaos of the exhibits having a place to sit down and reflect on the artwork was a refreshing change of pace.
The team also spent time across the river in Greenpoint at the annual Brooklyn Designs Fair, a staple of NYCxDesign. There, we noticed the uptick in 70's inspired pieces – everything from sunken living areas to murphy beds. Wood and reclaimed wood had a prominent role as well, with all things artisan making statements. These trends manifested themselves in many space saving solutions – as it was apparent many products were designed with city-dwelling buyers in mind.
AJ Madison and Resource Furniture joined forces for the 500-square foot ‘micro-loft', which featured such space-saving solutions as this modern murphy bed.
Photo: Design MilkThe Rocking PacMan from Sawkill Lumber Co. is made from reclaimed wood, seats multiple people rocking in opposite directions, and features a very familiar retro shape. (Note: PacMan first made an appearance in May of 1980, which is close enough to the 70s for our purposes.)This Spring ushers in a flurry of design events, including AIA in Philadelphia. Stay tuned to the latest from our team here, and follow along with us on Twitter and Instagram!