If the 2021 International Contemporary Furniture Fair held in Manhattan every year was any indication, there is no shortage of homegrown talent in the field of design.
From sculptural furniture that incorporates living plants, to skillfully digitalized tripped out wallcoverings — all these goods have one thing in common: They are made in New York.
And for so many in this local design community, lifestyle changes during the pandemic not only fueled inspiration for new, more purposeful designs, but led to growth in sales.
“Consumers continue to invest in their living spaces,” said Phil Robinson, show director of ICFF. “There is more visibility for local businesses because of supply chain delays and consumers have had to tap into more local resources, which can deliver design products more quickly.”
In Brooklyn, Robert Remer, principal designer at Opiary, a biophilic design and production studio, explores the many possibilities for glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) — a material he prefers for its strength and versatility.
Remer and his team of artisans create weatherproof made-to-order statement pieces like tables, chairs and sculptural accessories which incorporate design elements that allow for living greenery.
“Our pieces are inspired by the dialectic of nature and culture and involve natural processes and man-made systems in their composition,” says Remer. “It’s important that living nature is in every one of our pieces to reflect the quality of our environment, whether indoors or out, and to remind us of who we are and where we came from.”
Not too far down the road in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, another local favorite churns out hand-screened and digital wallcoverings that transcend the ordinary.
Flavor Paper has easily made wallpaper and wall decals a hot commodity by bringing iconic patterns from legendary contemporary artists — from Andy Warhol to Jen Stark — to scale with the notion that nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.
Their wall art has earned permanent residency at design institutions like the Brooklyn Museum; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; and abroad at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
Other highly covetable objects made locally are of the illuminating kind.
Feyza Koksal Kemahlioglu, founder and design director of Feyz Studio, manufactures customized lighting fixtures that can take up to 12 weeks to complete.
Kemahlioglu works with her team at Brooklyn Glass to perfect techniques and manufacture each piece to specifications like glass color, metal finish and sizing orientation — whatever you can imagine is possible.
A unique aspect of her work is how she incorporates meerschaum, a claylike material sourced and finished by artisans in her native Turkey.
“I love handcraftsmanship and I’m very attached to my Turkish culture and history,” she said. “It is very important for me to use components of it or reference it in my art.”