Last week, I stopped by the New York International Gift Fair for a total of 90 minutes. For those of you who are familiar with the biannual event, this might seem absolutely crazy considering the sheer size of NYIGF (this winter there were over 2,800 exhibitors in attendance). The last time I attended in the summer of 2009, I navigated the trade show floor for four hours and hardly made a dent.
Despite my abbreviated visit at the Winter 2011 edition, with some pre-planning, scheduled appointments, and a good pair of walking shoes I was able to catch a bunch of good green merchandise for the home from some of my favorite designers (mostly in the juried Accent on Design section and in the special SustainAbility exhibit). The only thing missing was a non-dead battery in my camera. Oh well. 
I was pretty smitten with Growbottles (pictured above) miniature hydroponic herb gardens housed in wine bottles reclaimed from restaurants. Appparently so were the thousands of retailers in attendance at NYIGF. As one of the 200 products on display in the SustainAbility exhibit, the GrowBottle won the title (via popular balloting) of “Most Innovative” in the Eco Choice Awards. NYIGF takes sustainability seriously so congrats to Potting Shed Creations and other two Eco Choice winners. These handmade “up-cycled hydro gardens" (available in organic basil, oregano, chives, parsley and mint) are currently available. 
Keeping up the herb garden theme is the Hot-Pot BBQ, an apartment balcony-friendly herb garden/mini-BBQ grill combo from cheeky British design duo Black + Blum. I absolutely love it. Judging from the crowd at the Black + Blum booth, I wasn't alone. The Hot-Pot BBQ is released in May and I'm seriously considering investing. 
The newest addition to Los Angeles-based design studio Artecnica's fantastic Design w/ Conscience collection is a collaboration with Studio Lin and Homeboy Industries called Homeboy Tote Bags. Each reusable canvas tote boasts original, tattoo- and graffiti-inspired calligraphy created and screen-printed by reformed L.A. gang members. Available in March. 
Another noteworthy find at the SustainAbility display were the Nectar Bookends. These charming recycled powder-coated aluminum bookends are produced by Mexico City-based sustainable design firm Neko
Biodegradable Tin Can  Mollaspace
One of the first things to grab my attention at NYIGF were these nifty Biodegradable Tin Cans at the booth of a favorite exhibitor of mine: Molla Space, an L.A.-based design collective focusing on emerging Asian designers. The reusable cans, manufactured by PLA Studio and designed by Kris Design, both of Taiwan. No word on a release date, but I can't wait to try 'em out. 
I'm always on the lookout for good, eco-friendly candles. I dig these made-in-the-USA soy candles from Crash featuring designs from renowned textile Swedish textile designer Lotta Jansdotter. Not new for spring/summer 2011, these guys are available at
I spent a fair amount of time poking around the Umbra booth. Although there's lots of new merch to keep an eye out for from this frequently green home design company coming up this spring/summer, it was two already-available items that I hadn't seen before that left the biggest impression: a stylish hamper for household recyclables made from cotton canvas and a handy-dandy bamboo cookbook holder. 
I'm a huge fan of Scandinavian design "publisher" Design House Stockholm — it's one of the few home design firms that really gets my pulse racing, especially in the lighting department. New for spring/summer 2011 are two additions to the birch tree-inspired Björk collection by Lena Bergström: two handsome, versatile stools made from natural wool. Says Bergström: “The stool is a natural part of the Björk collection, just like the stumps in a birch forest. They are a piece of furniture that is light and soft in its expression.” 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Gifted and talented green design in N.Y.
A miniature organic herb garden housed in a repurposed wine bottle is just one of the many eco-highlights at the winter 2011 session of the New York Internation