New York may have dug free from January’s massive snowfall, but winter is still in full swing. It was a chilly, sunny February morning when we set out to explore the bi-annual NY NOW trade show. Despite the cold, NY NOW is a pilgrimage we rarely miss. It is an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and discover great new design from around the world.
The show is a fantastic snapshot of the consumer goods industry, and there was no shortage of great products this year. Especially exciting was the multitude of independent startups, whether making their debut or expanding their existing product lines. The Javits Center is a truly massive space. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of objects on display, but certain objects stand out from the crowd. These are some of our team’s favorite people and things from this year’s NY NOW, in no particular order.
Fellow – Stagg Kettle
Brewing Up a Brand
The fellows at Fellow Products are a shining example of a Kickstarter runaway success story. It all started with their Duo coffee steeper, created with input from coffee nerds. The result was a beautiful product and a successful Kickstarter campaign, nearly quadrupling its funding goal. The Fellow team was not about to rest on their laurels, however. Soon after the backer-bought items were shipped, the company fleshed out its product line with a coffee mug and a pour-over kettle, dubbed the Stagg. The Stagg is a handsome and well-considered piece of design, with a counterbalanced handle and a thermometer in the lid to indicate the perfect brewing temperature. Far from a one-hit wonder, the Fellow Brand is smartly expanding to become a staple of contemporary coffee culture.
Blazing a Trail
One of the most exciting debuts at the show was Fire Road, a startup company by Andrew Perkins. Andrew left a senior design position at a premier lighting company to create his own line of delightful home products. “Radial” is a wonderfully tactile set of aluminum candle holders that interlock with a satisfying metallic click. When not in use, the pieces nest together, forming a sculptural tabletop accent piece. “Profile” is a bottle opener, featuring a block of Carrara marble nestled in an aluminum frame. The marble gives the object a satisfying heaviness. Given the premium materials and a great finish, the $50 retail price point is a pleasant surprise. The debut collection also includes a set of aluminum domino pieces, and a modular coat hook. We wish a bright road ahead for Andrew and his startup.
Intersecting Nature and Process
A stand-out among new presences at the show this year were the calming, nature-inspired designs by Edgewood Made. What brought us into the booth first was the appealing use of earth tones, and then we noticed the unexpected and refreshing form of the porcelain pitcher. Its faceted surfaces create an unusual and compelling aesthetic, but moreover, they accentuate the function of such an item: to pour water. Taking a deeper look at the products, we found even more that we loved. For example, the slip cast porcelain Edgewood Cup is a testament to the company’s attention to detail with its wonderfully accurate wood grain texture, which creates a stunningly tactile experience mixed with the feel of the raw porcelain exterior. With all their products designed and made in Philadelphia, we really can’t say enough great things about Edgewood Made.
Nested – 2Do System
Stackable Solutions from South Africa
Modular comes in a lot of different forms, but none with the same clean, yet playful character of Nested’s 2Do Stackable Drawer System. The pieces are a design collaboration between South African designer Renee Rossouw and Denne Viljoen of De Steyl, and are all made by artisans in South Africa of sustainable birch plywood, printed with water-based inks. With a mix of pedestal, castor, and wall mounting bases, this product can really make a statement in any room in the house. What we found most exciting about this piece of furniture is that the way the pieces stack is both simple and inconspicuous. At first glance, you don’t even notice its modularity. And if that weren’t enough, take a look at the array of bold, colorful patterns in the assortment and 2Do will definitely bring a smile to your face – it sure did to ours!
Small Studios with Big Impact
Design collectives are a great way for independent designers and studios to achieve a broader reach. JOIN Design, a collective of designers from primarily the Pacific Northwest, has a myriad of talented designers in their midst and one in particular caught our attention. Jared Randall of Small Craft certainly brings some great design to the table…literally. We can’t get enough of the sophisticated form of his Conic Wooden Dish with its subtly creased basin, and we’d be pretty psyched to caffeinate our mornings with a pour over made on his modern, refined Coffee Stand. A RISD graduate relocated to Seattle, Jared is definitely a designer worth watching. We seriously appreciate his eye for design and details, and we can’t wait to see more.
MÈZË – Cast Iron Cookware
Materiality from the Mediterranean
It might be the luscious red color of the enamel, or maybe it’s the inviting wooden knob on the top that makes you want to touch it first, but whichever it is you are definitely in for a sweet surprise when you first lift the lid on Mèzë’s cast iron cookware. Beyond being struck by the design of these vessels, we were highly impressed by their weight or lack thereof. When you think of cast iron, the word “delicate” usually doesn’t come to mind, but this cookware is just that, and we applaud the sensitive application of material. The family of products includes a casserole, tagine, cocotte, and paella pan which reflects a foundation built in tradition, but each piece would be a welcome addition to any modern kitchen.
Most Modest – Hough Small Rectangle
Tech Meets Craft
We were excited to find the San Francisco based company, Most Modest with co-founder, and MG alum, Ben Salthouse there representing all their work. Though the company is only 4 years old, their work speaks volumes to the minds of the team behind it. The Hough Storage Vessels were the shining stars of this exhibit. They are a perfect example of delivering delight with simple solutions. The vessel covers are perfectly weighted while cork and rubber textures provide a fun and unique tactile experience. These vessels are offered in a family of three versatile sizes, fitting for any desk space. These products are not only well considered functionally, but the forms are easy on the eyes to boot. Most Modest makes using day-to-day objects an enjoyable experience, which something we value greatly. We look forward to organizing with these vessels, no need to be so modest!
It was a joy to reconnect with our dear friend and former MGA&D colleague, Dounia Tamri-Loeper. Dounia is launching her namesake brand with a hand-crafted lighting collection. Connecting with her Moroccan roots, she is collaborating with Moroccan artisans to re-contextualize traditional elements of Moroccan décor for the contemporary home. The collection is a variety of brass, copper, and silver pendant lights, whose simple forms provide the perfect blank canvas for intricate, delicate patterns. Moroccan textiles round out the collection. We wish Dounia all the best with her endeavor, and can’t wait to see what’s next!