As they say, the second time's a charm ...

Featured amongst the eclectic selection of design "souvenirs" up for grabs at last year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair,  it was excellent to see the “durable, versatile and playful” milk crate-based modular stool/storage system from New Jersey otherwise known as XTOOL make a return appearance at the 2013 edition of ICFF.

Showing once again as part of the fabulous Designboom Mart exhibition/bazaar (one of my favorite aspects of ICFF because, well, you can buy stuff), XTOOL's sophomore NY Design Week appearance follows a successfuly funded Kickstarter campaign launched to help churn out the ingenious indoor/outdoor stackable storage stool with plywood legs and seat in greater quantities.

Like a Mason jar-based French press from Portland that I featured earlier this week, the Newark-based design studio responsible for XTOOL, Combo Colab, is all about keeping things simple and hyper-local as possible:

Combo Colab crates are manufactured for us by a local New Jersey milk crate manufacturer. This way we make sure all dairies, farmers and related industries are able to keep using their crates out on the streets and you get a real, strong 'specimen' of the all-time favorite milk crate. Our manufacturer uses up to 80 percent recycled plastic or as much as possible without compromising the strength of the crate. We work closely with him to get the limited edition colors we offer.
The scrap plywood components of XTOOL — Combo Colab describes it as “the first piece of a larger family of modular furniture using custom milk-crates” — are also of N.J. origin although the Velcro ties “come all the way from California.” And noting that the “US is a country of immigrants,” Combo Colab opted to import the wool felt seating pads from Germany. (It’s worth pointing out that Combo Colab was founded in 2010 by Mateo Pinto and Carolina Cisneros, a duo of architects hailing from Venezuela and Argentina).

Outside of ICFF’s Designboom Mart and the expired Kickstarter campaign, it’s unclear at this point as to when and where XTOOL will become widely commercially available. I’d certainly be interested, particularly if the plywood legs and seat and the felt seating pad were available a la carte (a la crate?) given that I currently have a few surplus 16-quart milk crates on my hands that I have no idea what to do with.

And while I’m on the topic of versatile, N.J.-produced, storage-centric home furnishings, it was fantastic to see Asbury Park-based Soapbox showing at this year’s WantedDesign exhibition. That’s a photo of the Soapbox display below that I took during the opening night of WantedDesign which, in its third year, has morphed into quite the draw during NY Design Week.


Related on MNN: Quirky Crates: A domestically produced, dorm-perfect spin on milk crates

Soapbox photo: Matt Hickman

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

XTOOL: A milk crate-based storage stool from the Garden State
Newark-based Combo Colab returns to the Designboom Mart at ICFF with a clever, milk crate-based stackable storage stool dubbed XTOOL.