In time for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair In May, New York writer Tim McKeough sources the best new showrooms, events and restos around town
152 Greene Street
When Flos first set up shop on this busy SoHo corner, adjacent to Moroso and the now-closed Moss, New Yorkers felt as if they were witnessing the construction of an incredibly chic design mall. The showroom remains a top source for inimitable contemporary lighting, from Castiglioni classics to Soft Architecture fixtures, such as Ron Gilad’s Wall Piercing, that blend into walls.
Mon–Sat 11–7; cocktail reception Sat, May 18
The Americano restaurant
518 West 27th Street
At Chelsea’s scrim-sheathed Hôtel Americano, by Mexican architect Enrique Norten,
you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy the polished aesthetic of the Americano, which serves a Latin-infused French menu, from burgers to Oaxacan lobster, in a lustrous interior animated with Allegro pendant fixtures by Foscarini. Up a flight of white stairs, the patio offers a view of the hotel’s brick and fire escape milieu.
Dinner Mon–Fri 6–11, Sat & Sun 6–midnight; in summer, lunch served Sat & Sun on the rooftop
269 11th Avenue
Back for its third year, Wanted Design is the most inclusive of the off-site events that take over the city during ICFF. Expect a diverse group of exhibitors, including Cappellini, Design Within Reach (which is debuting the Helix table [shown] by Chris Hardy), Joe Doucet, and Bernhardt Design. There are also regional showcases, such as From Quebec, Fresh From Brasil, and Design in Puerto Rico.
May 18–20, Sat–Mon 10–7
New York Design Center
200 Lexington Avenue, Suite 702
A fixture in SoHo, where it operated an expansive street-level store, Desiron recently relocated to the New York Design Center, a nexus of showrooms that sell to the trade. Under the creative direction of Frank Carfaro, Desiron turns out simple, robust, large-scale modern furniture, such as the chunky Bedford wooden dining table with metal insert, and the upholstered Empire bench with flat-bar steel base, made to order in the US. Unlike many NYDC showrooms, it is open to the public.
Mon–Fri 9–5; Sat 12–4
New York Design Center
200 Lexington Avenue, 10th floor
The premier online marketplace for vintage designer furniture, 1stdibs.com now has a bricks and mortar shop at the New York Design Center, where it presents booths from more than 50 of the website’s top dealers. For lovers of modern, there’s plenty of mid-century, and you may also come across rarefied present-day pieces – such as the Drag lamp by Julien Carretero (shown) – from the recently shuttered Moss shop.
Mon–Fri 9:30–5:30, Sat (July & Aug only) 10–5
Avenue Road showroom
145 West 28th Street, 5th floor
At the New York outpost of this Toronto retailer, you will find an international range of furniture and accessories that you won’t see anywhere else in the city, from the hexagonal MUC tables in multi-hued ceramic by Christophe Delcourt, to the cantilevered Figilio sofa by Marcel Wolterinck. Resembling a residential loft, the showroom also stages Canadian talent. Yabu Pushelberg consulted on the interior, and Toronto art studio Moss & Lam produced one of the most prominent features, an installation of curving floor-to-ceiling screens with a bird motif. These custom elements are for sale, and Avenue Road carries a selection of production pieces from both firms.
Mon–Fri 10–6, Sat 11–6; open house Sat & Sun, May 18 and 19
500 Madison Avenue
The Spanish porcelain company Lladró has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, expanding its focus from kitsch figurines to the modern vignettes – sometimes starring a jauntily clad jester – of Jaime Hayón. Now it has swung open the doors of its new flagship (also designed by Hayón), a gleaming white beacon on a prominent corner of Madison Avenue.
Full of generously curved corners and rounded rectangular display cases, the look is crisp and friendly, with just a hint of a sci-fi vibe. It’s also luminous, thanks to minimalist pendants and track lighting and a wall of bevelled mirror panels. However, the manufacturer has not completely eschewed its past. Its traditional bombonieres sit side by side with more experimental pieces developed by contemporary designers and artists, including Gary Baseman’s new Guest Collection. Placed inside this boutique, it all appears fresh – proving, once again, that context is everything.
Mon–Sat 10–6; cocktail reception Tue May 14, 6–8
98 South 4th Street, Brooklyn
The design store Karkula has come home. Opened in Brooklyn in 1996 as an 18-square-metre shop named Breukelen, it made the jump to Manhattan’s then emerging Meatpacking District in 1999. Priced out when the area became overrun with bars and clubs, it relocated first to TriBeCa, and now back to its original borough in Williamsburg, where owner John Erik Karkula lives.
Throughout that 17-year saga, it has supported young local designers, such as Jim Zivic and David Weeks, while introducing the wares of lesser-known European brands. Today it carries products from such renowned companies as e15, Extremis, Kettal, Oluce and Santa & Cole, as well as raw, vaguely utilitarian pieces by local office Token, and a handful of items designed by Karkula himself.
Mon–Fri 10–6, Sat & Sun 11–5
Proenza Schouler shop
822 Madison Avenue
Located on a moneyed stretch of Madison Avenue, fashion house Proenza Schouler’s first boutique, designed by London, U.K., architect David Adjaye, surprises with its materiality. At first blush, it’s the antithesis of bling: weathered wooden beams, pockmarked brick, rusted metal screens cut out in a triangular pattern, and long expanses of concrete. But in Adjaye’s hands, the result is far greater than the sum of its parts, offering a sense of permanence as well as an unfussy representation of urban cool.
Campbell Sports Center
West 218th Street and Broadway Situated at the northern tip of the city, this new building may cause commuter whiplash. Designed by Steven Holl Architects, it stakes a place at the centre of Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex. The angular 4,432-square-metre building, with its criss-crossing external staircases, is inspired by football and soccer field diagrams. With a robust exposed steel structure and an aluminum rain screen, it projects a sense of strength while responding to its gritty urban location on the edge of the elevated subway tracks.
Party Wall Installation, MoMA PS1
22–25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
In late June, visitors to MoMA PS1 can find shade, culture and entertainment in a towering
structure clad in waste wood from skateboard production, right in the art museum’s
courtyard. Party Wall, as it’s called, also functions as an aqueduct: a stream of water that runs along the top carries water to pools and sprays mist. Pieces of the facade, made up
of 120 wooden panels, can be removed to serve as benches and tables during the museum’s Warm Up music parties. The installation was designed by Ithaca-based CODA, a studio headed by architect Caroline O’Donnell. In Manhattan, MoMA hosts Applied Design, curator Paola Antonelli’s latest brainy exhibition (think: Pac-Man alongside a roving IED detonator), before it inaugurates a major show on Le Corbusier, which opens June 15.
MoMA PS1: Thu–Mon 12–6 (closed Tue & Wed) momaps1.org ; MoMA: Mon, Wed & Thu, Sat & Sun 10:30–5:30, Fri 10:30–8 (closed Tue)
Tom Dixon showroom
670 Broadway, Suite 501
After a prolonged flirtation with New York, Tom Dixon has finally made a commitment and opened a modest contract showroom in a historical 1874 building. The space is stuffed with the British designer’s latest works, including the new Rough & Smooth collection of metallic lighting, furniture and objects. Just don’t expect a casual shopping fling; the showroom is open by appointment to the trade only.
29 9th Avenue
From Philippe Starck’s twisted Organic faucet to Patricia Urquiola’s free-standing tub that looks like a frozen wave, Axor makes bath fittings and fixtures that people actually covet. In this Meatpacking District showroom, designers and homeowners now have a place to see and touch the full range from the upscale designer line produced by Hansgrohe.
On-site product specialists are ready to pull together comprehensive specifications for projects, but don’t come here expecting to buy on the spot. Instead, clients are directed to local dealers to complete their purchase. If your design project extends beyond wet areas, you’re also in luck. The Axor showroom is located on the upper level of Vitra’s showroom, so you can pick up a Tip Ton chair by Barber Osgerby or a Noguchi Prismatic table on your way out.
Mon–Fri 11–6, or by appointment
45 Greene Street
A mural depicting the interior of Milan’s La Scala opera house covers the entire rear wall, as a tribute to FontanaArte’s home base. Designed by Italian architect Piero Russi, the interior is otherwise spare and simple, letting the light fixtures shine. From classics by Gio Ponti, who co-founded the company, to the 2013 collection created under new art director Giorgio Biscaro – including such fun fixtures as the Blom table lamp by Andreas Engesvik (shown) – you get to experience the 80-year-old company’s rich breadth. Of course, the showroom isn’t the only place to see these products in action. Just up the road at 110 Prince Street, the Camper store, designed by Shigeru Ban and topped with cardboard tubes, features rows of seating illuminated by the Japanese architect’s minimalist Yumi floor lamps for FontanaArte.
Mon–Fri 10–6, Sat 11–6; cocktail reception Mon, May 20
Kava coffee shop
803 Washington Street
When it comes to hospitality design, Roman and Williams is the most imitated, firm in New York. However, this tiny, off-the-radar boutique coffee shop by the powerhouse studio demonstrates its knack for crafting spaces that feel rooted in a history that never quite existed. The café is grounded by a sunburst terrazzo floor and has a vaguely nautical feel,
with a porthole door and ceiling coves, and a wall installation of red-tipped wooden slats. Just in case the interior is not enough, there is a secluded garden out back.
Open (am to pm) Mon–Wed 7–9, Thu & Fri 7–10, Sat 8–10, Sun 8–9
When architect Louis Kahn died of a heart attack in New York’s Penn Station in 1974, he was carrying the final drawings for this memorial to American president Franklin D. Roosevelt in his briefcase. Although the design, completed by some of Kahn’s former employees, was approved for construction, political changes and financial problems soon derailed the project – for more than three decades. Finally completed last year with help from a team that included Mitchell / Giurgola Architects, the park – featuring the giant bust of FDR and a contemplative space formed by enormous blocks of white granite – is a belated surprise gift from one of the country’s most fondly remembered modernists. For a bird’s-eye view of New York while en route to Roosevelt Island in the East River, take the aerial tram from 2nd Avenue and East 59th Street in Manhattan.
660 Madison Avenue
The highlight of Barneys’ recently unveiled reno – especially for devotees of Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik – is the sparkling fifth-floor shoe department, where marble walls and full-height glass panels laminated with brass mesh add a tasteful touch of glam to a serene, sophisticated space. The multi-phase, multi-year renovation is the work of Yabu Pushelberg, under the guidance of the store’s creative director, Dennis Freedman.
Mon–Fri 10–8, Sat 10–7, Sun 11–6
110 Greene Street, Suite 12K
The Italian company Alpi produces reconstituted wood from sustainable sources. Derived from readily available poplar and basswood trees, many of its products – ranging from wood veneer and flooring to doors and door knobs – recreate the appearance of more exotic species, such as rosewood, ebony, zebra wood and fumed oak. The company celebrates the engineered nature of its product with bright integral colours and unusual patterns that still somehow feel warm and familiar.
For that reason, this showroom (one in a string of new outposts, including Milan and Moscow) is bound to be a favourite haunt of architects and designers looking to push their material palettes. Designed by Matteo Ragni – and launching just in time for ICFF with a party hosted by Karno.in.ua – it is located right in the heart of SoHo, on the 12th floor of the aptly named SoHo Building.
Mon–Fri 10–6; Karno.in.ua cocktail reception Mon, May 20, 6–9
Parish Hall Eatery
109 North 3rd Street Brooklyn
Joseph Foglia’s design breaks sharply from the trend of weathered barnboard and exposed Edison bulbs. Instead, it offers perfectly plain white-painted brick walls, blond woods and custom furniture with simple modern shapes, inviting patrons to savour food that puts a focus on local ingredients; as is de rigueur these days, the restaurant grows its produce on its own farm. With its Scandinavian feel, it’s a real palate cleanser.
Mon 11–10, Tue–Sat 11–11, Sun 10–10
Home Front exhibit
Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
In its most ambitious program yet, MAD ramps up its recurring Home Front series, dedicated to the state of American design. Running through June 9, the must-see After the Museum: The Home Front 2013 comprises an exhibition, workshops, and lectures on everything from digital design tools to how design objects are sold.
Tue & Wed, Sat & Sun 10–6, Thu & Fri 10–9 (closed Mon)
666 5th Avenue
Come to Uniqlo for the skinny jeans and stay for the architecture. What most adherents
of the Japanese brand might not know is that this prime 8,268-square-metre spot on 5th Avenue is the fast-fashion chain’s largest shop. The cavernous interior is full of reflective surfaces, light installations and video screens – dynamic features specified by Wonderwall designer Masamichi Katayama, Japan’s king of glamorous retail interiors.
Mon–Sat 10–9, Sun & holidays 11–8
L’Abbraccio – Gaetano Pesce exhibit
Fred Torres Collaborations
527 West 29th Street
Gaetano Pesce has never hidden his love for New York, his home since 1980, which also happens to be the year that he created the New York Sunrise sofa, inspired by the city’s skyscrapers, for Cassina. That love is finally requited with a solo exhibition, L’Abbraccio (The Embrace) that runs to May 25. The name comes from one of the featured pieces,
a cabinet that, when its two doors are closed, resembles an embracing couple. Also on view are drawings, maquettes, furniture and lighting by the resin-loving Pesce, which date from the 1970s.
Christian Liaigre Boutique
34 East 61st Street
The champion of restrained yet contemporary French elegance, Christian Liaigre has ended his representation by trade furniture giant Holly Hunt to inaugurate his own Upper East Side showroom. Expect three floors of simple furniture and case goods on a grand, monolithic scale, many featuring touchable textured woods and fabrics, which he has placed in the private homes of his own interior design clients.
405 Broome Street
Matter became a must-visit design shop by showcasing an unusual mix of furniture and accessories by local talents, international designers and top European names. These days, the highlight is the store’s own collection, MatterMade. It has grown steadily for the past three years, and now includes meticulously crafted pieces by such U.S.-based designers as Stephen Burks, Lindsey Adelman, Paul Loebach, Harry Allen and Jonah Takagi. This year, MatterMade launches its most ambitious offering from a single design studio yet, a furniture and lighting collection by the blistering-hot New York firm Roman and Williams, which puts the emphasis on robust construction and hard-wearing materials, such as brass, leather and American black walnut.
Mon–Sat 10–6, or by appointment; RSVP-only opening party Sat, May 18
Hunters Point south waterfront park
Long Island City, southern Queens
Located directly across the East River from midtown Manhattan, Hunters Point South Waterfront Park provides a beautiful public space for a new residential development. For those of us anxious about the extreme-weather future, it gives something more: a glimpse of what designing for rising water levels can look like. Conceived by Weiss / Manfredi, Thomas Balsley Associates, and Arup, the park features an urban beach, a shade canopy, walking paths, and a platform for viewing the city from afar. But the most intriguing element is a large oval lawn, which serves as a temporary holding pool for flood waters, protecting the park from post-hurricane destruction.