By Kim Cook
Attending the New York International Gift Fair is a little like watching television with a teenager: Lots of eye-catching visuals whiz by as the channels keep changing.
The fair’s home decor section is vast. Contemporary design parks next to rustic found objects; swanky silk pillows festoon one booth while rag rugs fill another.
Several studios staged rooms that resembled high-end boutique hotel suites. Gleaming chrome-legged furniture was topped with everything from nubby silk upholstery to cowhide and melty leathers. Neutral palettes ran from warm earth, caramel and cream to cooler soot, putty and decor’s new darling, grayed mauve. Sensuous and sophisticated, the spaces often included unexpected accessories: A lush tufted rug like a raked Japanese sand garden, a huge honeycombed pendant light resembling a skeletal form and a buffed metallic demilune tablet looked chic. There was a smoky console clad in silverleaf, pillows in soft graphic and chinoiserie prints, and etched vessels in gold and silver.
If homespun is your thing, you will love this year’s textile designs for the cool and cold months. Scandinavian influence dominated, with Swedish and Finnish studios offering woven wool pillow covers, blankets, wall hangings and even trivets cut into star, tree and animal patterns. Buy up all the unbleached linen you can find; it was hotter than a January hearth. Many designers are playing successfully with folk art motifs on linen, hemp and cotton. Blanket manufacturer Pendleton had a new contemporary Navajo pattern. Los Angeles’ Ige Design displayed some wonderful walnut veneer and paper mobiles in owl and bird-on-branch designs.
Glasswork was a lead player at the Gift Fair. Joe Cariati of Los Angeles showed decanters with such delicate opacity and hue that they resembled soap bubbles. California’s Siemon and Salazar whipped liquid glass into stunning pendant lights. Found here too were little cloud-like Cumuli glass lamps, and swirls of rich color layered into voluptuous but diminutive lighting, many with the new dimmable LEDs. Gaia + Gino had sexy stacked block candlesticks and Sebastian Bergne’s Nazar group of Eye ceramics in saturated hues. Vessels of all shapes and sizes were one of the show’s strongest elements.
Jonathan Adler stayed true to his aesthetic with a sassy collection of dachshund-shaped accessories, tufted and soignee leather chairs, and ’70s colors like tangerine and aquamarine. One set of circusy storage jars read “Quaaludes,” another “Ganja.” Umbra and several other designers used walnut, furniture design’s apparent new favorite, to craft sideboards, storage and coffee tables. Look for walnut or walnut veneer to dominate as elements of the ’60s and ’70s meet modern design. West Elm and Crate & Barrel are showing many pieces in this finish in their fall books, and it looks both retro and brand new.
Muted ceramics were everywhere. Lawrence McCrae’s lacy pottery lamps were lovely and modern. Germany’s Asa Collection showed white, aqua, black and turquoise ceramics that were glossy on the inside, matte on the outside. New York City’s Klein Reid studio showed their Hawthorne satin-glazed vessels in hues of curry, olive and a chilly but beautiful Atlantic blue. Textile booths with pretty embroidery, ruffles, lace and diminutive prints were generating lots of traffic, as were those with watery colored silks, soft wools and gently embellished finishes.
If saturated hues kick your imagination into high gear, you will be happy to know that vibrant color continues to have design heft. Powder-coated metal trash cans, hooks and shelving were clad in M&M hues, which made the utilitarian fun. Suzanis, batiks, ikats and other village and tribal prints ran strong. Brights were big, but several designers reinterpreted the designs in the newest palette — muted purple, carbon, lemongrass and clay.
Among other strong looks:
•Travel vogue: Authentic Models had a great group of stateroom-inspired pieces including desks and bar carts. There were map graphics and faux trophy animal wall décor made of papier-mâché.
•Medieval chic: Game of Thrones fans would love Lazy Susan’s collection of Fortress home pieces, including a pendant lamp and an oxcart coffee table. There were metal-strapped pieces elsewhere, and burnished armor-like finishes on furniture.
•Big is better: Designers played with scale to create an impact. Vancouver’s Martha Sturdy did huge ceramic chargers, while extra-big barrel-shaped pendants, elongated vases and oversize chain-stitch motifs showed up in several booths. — AP