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ICFF 2010 opens in N.Y. with the spotlight on lamps

May 17, 2010 | 10:03 am
BluDot_Rook one leg

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair opened over the weekend in New York, and the star of the show isn't actually furniture but the array of decorative accessories, wall decor and lighting. With exhibitors expecting consumers to remain skittish about big-ticket sofas and tables, the smaller stuff shined.

BlueDot_Rook upwards The prevailing mood at ICFF, as at the Milan furniture fair last month, is optimistic. Bright, cheery color covers the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center floor, and many pieces are propelled by playfulness -- as though designers know we all could use a little levity. More on the color and humor stories later. Now: the lighting.

Blu Dot co-founder and chief executive John Christakos called the Rook table lamp, shown above and at right, a happy accident. A chunk of wood -- part of a base for a floor lamp -- was abandoned in a work room. Someone randomly discarded a lampshade on top of that trash. Then someone else noticed: Hmm. That looks good.

The Rook can stand on three legs with its shade pointed up, or it can balance on a single edge with the shade cantilevered to the side, “like some Joseph Shapiro sculpture,” Christakos said. “It’s just a cute little number.”

Kang_Booklight Myungseo Kang graduated two years ago from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the London arts school that counts fashion designer Stella McCartney, actor Colin Firth and vacuum king James Dyson among its alumni.

Kang said she was intrigued by the structural strength of octagons, so she applied the shape to traditional lampshade material, folding it into an accordion-like tube and slicing up the resulting form.

Finished with a traditional hardcover binding and a compact fluorescent bulb, her Book light delivers a soft glow as a pendant light or as a table lamp.

Roll & Hill, the much-anticipated new lighting company from designer Jason Miller and managing partner Andrew Yang, had its ICFF premiere. One standout was Lindsey Adams Adelman’s Agnes chandelier -- similar to her Candelabra, shown below left, except with elongated electric bulbs instead of flickering tapers. The chandelier is so new, Roll & Hill doesn't have a photo of it yet.  (The fixture's finish all but disappears when viewed against the dark Javits ceiling, making my attempts at photography futile. Sorry.) But imagine this: a similar design but in black, with long light bulbs turned at random angles. Yang apologized that the chandelier had not been configured as the designer intended, but the angled lights had the effect of a necktie loosened -- a more casual and potentially cooler look. Roll & Hill's collection also includes the Excel sconce, shown below center, and the Modo chandelier, below right.


Tom-Dixon-Void-Steel-image-1The Void light from Tom Dixon performed something of a magic trick: Not only did the orbs seem to hover weightlessly overhead, but their gentle illumination appeared to emanate from solid metal. The British designer said the pendants come in brass, stainless steel (pictured here) or copper as a nod to the gold, silver and bronze that will be handed out at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Your Tom Dixon trivia for the day: Of the solid brass, steel or copper orbs, which is the heaviest? A company representative said the copper fixture is the heaviest; the steel is the lightest.

DesignHouseStockholm_BoxLight_GreyBlack_TableThe Box Light from Design House Stockholm is essentially a tabletop lamp with a sliding lid as a dimmer, pictured at right.

Pull out the white plastic shade for more light; push it in for less.

The aluminum shell is 6 inches long and comes in gray or black. The creator is Jonas Hakaniemi, who graduated from a Finnish design school just last year.

ThelermontHupton_Blown Ups - DogAnd, finally, the dog lamp from Thelermont Hupton, part of a series of playful glass table lights that include an old-school telephone and a cactus. Some were custom designs that only now will become available to the mass market. Light-hearted.

Coming up: We'll have an interview with Patricia Urquiola on why a sink is more than a sink, more photos detailing this year's color craze at ICFF and more examples of design delivered with a smile and a wink. Bookmark the blog and check back throughout the week.

-- Craig Nakano

Photos (from top): Rook lamp. Credit: Blu Dot

Book lamp. Credit: Myungseo Kang

Agnes, Excel and Modo lighting. Credit: Roll & Hill

Void light. Credit: Tom Dixon

Dog lamp. Credit: Thelermont Hupton

CORRECTED: A previous version of this post said the event was at the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center. The correct name is Jacob K. Javits.

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