NY Design Week kicked off this past weekend with a decidedly outer borough-y bang: The triumphant return of BKLYN Designs, a juried showcase of “locally grown, internationally known” home furnishings and accessories. After downsizing and then disappearing for a couple of years straight, BKLYN Designs was resurrected with a handcrafted vengeance by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce for its 10th edition, once again held at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO.
Like in the past, creative reuse and sustainability was a driving force amongst the 33 Brooklyn-based designers selected for this year’s show. I headed over to St. Ann’s Warehouse to peruse the goods (some of which were rather affordable). Below are a few highlights:
An obvious, rubbernecker of a crowd-pleaser, Dog Tag Designs “specializes in repurposing and upcycling objects into useful and artistic furnishings.” Essentially, this involves designer Tyagi Schwartz transforming flea market junk — cigar boxes, plastic trucks, gas cans, tins, electric mixers, CB radios, and old rotary phones … lots of lots of old rotary phones — into whimsical lamps. Each playfully titled piece is affixed with a dog tag that notes where it was discovered and when it was transformed.
A hyper-local (his showroom/workshop is located just down the road from St. Ann’s Warehouse) newbie to BKLYN Designs, furniture maker and veteran green prefab home builder Mark Jupiter is responsible for some out of this world gorgeous pieces, all handcrafted from reclaimed materials sourced in and around New York City: Dining tables and media consoles created from the redwood remnants of a 20th century water tower on the Upper West Side; a coffee table carved from a mighty elm tree felled by Hurricane Irene; a dining table handcrafted from yellow pine salvaged from a demolished townhouse in Tribeca; and on.
Previously featured back in the early days of MNN, amicable, detail-oriented Red Hook-based furniture maker/jack of all trades Scott Raffaele was on hand at BKLYN Designs with Credenza 47. The latest incarnation of his stunning and versatile signature credenza, the piece is handcrafted with locally sourced/salvaged wood and eco-friendly finishes and boasts a custom-designed hinge system. As noted in the literature for Credenza 47, "Scott is inspired by the fusion of urban with nature, and draws inspiration from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, the Bauhaus, and traditional Japanese architecture."
Cassidy Brush, Clinton Hill-based Edison bulb hoarder, Etsy seller, and sustainability-minded designer of “industrial chic” lighting fixtures, introduced a whopper of a “mosaic industrial style lighting chandelier” at BKLYN Designs: a dramatic 45-inch-by-45-inch fixture/conversation piece with a base crafted from salvaged yellow pine and 50 old-school (and low-wattage, as Brush was quick to point out) incandescent pendant bulbs.
I’ve long admired artist/inventor Adam Frank’s stainless steel oil lamp shadow projector, Lumen Flame, so it was great to see the newest edition to the Lumen family, the kid-friendly/nightlight-appropriate Lumen LED on full tree-projecting display at BKLYN Designs. Frank also showed a curious new creation dubbed the Lucid Mirror, a dimmable décor mirror that “places a luminous 3D image inside the perceived space of a mirror.” I’m still not exactly sure how it worked but it was certainly mesmerizing.
Perhaps my favorite find at BKLYN Designs 2013 was Polaris, an interchangeable, wall-mounted lighting system from Bower that involves industrial-strength magnets and geometric lamps made from scrap wood. Also on display from this relatively young Williamsburg-based studio was perhaps the coolest key holder I’ve ever had the pleasure of chucking something at: A magnetized wooden dart board dubbed, most appropriately, Key Target.
To view the work of and learn more about all 33 designers featured at BKLYN Designs 2013, head on over to the event website. And fingers crossed that the show will once again return with a fresh crop of homegrown design talent in 2014.
BKLYN Designs 2013 attendees, were you particularly wowed by the work of a certain exhibitor?