Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Whimsical Furniture with A Functional Edge Displays at New York's Annual Contemporary-Furniture Exposition Were Less about Trends and More about the Staying Power of Well-Designed Pieces

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Whimsical Furniture with A Functional Edge Displays at New York's Annual Contemporary-Furniture Exposition Were Less about Trends and More about the Staying Power of Well-Designed Pieces

Article excerpt

HOPEFUL musicians head for Nashville. Aspiring actresses fly off to Hollywood. And promising furniture designers who want to be "discovered" trek to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York.

The fifth annual event, held May 16 to 19, put long-established furniture designers such as Dakota Jackson nose-to-nose with lots of fresh faces. New designers hope to take some orders, generate media interest, or even win a contract with a big manufacturer.

This year's new furniture looked more substantial and less trendy than some of the designs appearing in the last few years. People can confidently put most of the pieces displayed this year into their homes and not have to redecorate next season.

For the first three days of the event, architects, interior designers, retailers, and representatives of big manufacturers wandered through the jumble of new furniture creations. On the final day, the public was invited to see the 375 exhibitors' works in the cavernous Javits Convention Center. International exhibitors included those from France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, and Japan.

Richard Glasgow, a sculptor and furniture designer from Dallas, says that his first trip to the New York show was "a hundred times better than what I anticipated."

"I was looking for exposure," Mr. Glasgow says. "It was a good place for it. In fact, I've created a monster." He sold everything in his inventory and has orders for more pieces.

Glasgow was having a hard time selling his sculpture in Dallas. "The market is almost nonexistent," he says. "I heard about this show, and I directed my sculpture toward furniture and just made it functional...."

This was also the first year for David Strauss, who owns his own design firm in Newton Centre, Mass. He was "counting on making some connections with galleries in New York." The fair helped him generate a mailing list of architects and designers who are interested in his work.

Aris Paganakis, of Easton, Pa., made a big splash last year with his zany cartoon-inspired chest of drawers topped with a "High Victorian" mirror. He was back this year with a collection jokingly called "Aris in Wonderland," that included a "No Standing" lamp, the "Missed Manors" chair, and the "Fat Boy" chest of drawers. The furniture curves impossibly, as if you were seeing it reflected in a fun-house mirror. It can either look delusional or delightful.

Dakota Jackson introduced a line of bedroom furnishings that is aimed at a general audience. He has always produced one-of-a-kind beds for celebrities, so his "Big Sleep" line is a departure of sorts. The lines of his bed, night table, and armoire are "full-figured," Jackson says, and are reminiscent of fairy-tale illustrations or animated cartoons.

While Mr. Paganakis's fantasy furniture is guaranteed to charm his audience, entertainment was emphatically not the order of the day at this year's show. …

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