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ICFF 2010: A touch of craft, a hint of folk

May 18, 2010 |  4:01 pm

Malene Barnett's Mehndi rug was just one example of global folk, craft and traditional arts interpreted into home designs for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, which ended Tuesday in New York. Barnett said her woolen silk rug was inspired by a friend’s wedding in Mumbai, India, where her hands were dyed during a mehndi ceremony. The intricate lines of the henna pattern were translated into threads of Tibetan wool and Chinese silk, knotted by hand. Barnett, who runs her Malene B studio out of Brooklyn, offers the rug in a cream palette, pictured above, as well as an electric red.


To celebrate the 75th birthday of Artek, co-founded by the legendary Alvar Aalto, the Finnish company partnered with textile maker Maharam to develop new looks for Aalto’s classic 1936 Armchair 400. Pictured here: the embroidered linen of Sabine Steinmair, “whose origins in the Germanic South Tyrol bring an Alpine folkloric sensibility to her work,” according to the press materials.


One of the pleasant surprises of the show was the New Caribbean Design collection, whose traditional crafts carried a contemporary flair. Stella Hackett, a Barbados artist and graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, showed her hand-formed Coal Pot Bottles made of red clay. Traditional island cooking, Hackett said, is done in red clay pots with a cavity in the bottom for hot coals. She used  the same clay for her bottles, adding glazed interiors and stoppers to make them functional. The vessels’ simple sculptural appeal, however, was what kept stopping passersby.


Also part of the New Caribbean Design collection: Primitive yet sophisticated Maroon baskets made of hand-stitched coconut palm. They were designed by Ivelyn Harris, who runs Nanny of the Maroons Traditional Crafts in Jamaica. 

-- Craig Nakano

Photos: Michael Nagle / For The Times