If NYCxDESIGN (a.k.a. New York design week) was like high school and all of its events were like cliques, ICFF would be the jocks, WantedDesign would be the over-achieving international exchange students, OFFSITE would be the artsy party kids, and the Collective Design fair would be the popular group—the beautifully blow-dried and exquisitely dressed boys and girls who seemed to float through the halls unscathed by acne and awkward growth spurts. Remember that girl who used her Prada handbag to carry her notebooks to class, not to show off, but because that was just her day bag? She and her ilk now run Collective Design, and guess what? Everyone still wants to sit at their table in the cafeteria.
What this belabored analogy means for the grown-up world of Collective Design is a fair with lots of sleek, tasteful, gallery-grade furnishings being hawked by equally chic reps. The huddled groups of carefully coiffed dealers, interior designers, and buyers—to say nothing of all the meticulously appointed women of a certain age running their bejewelled fingers along well-oiled occasional tables—might strike you as out-of-place for a design week event, where most show booths are staffed by the designers themselves; interacting with them directly is a vital part of the experience. It’s a key draw for me, anyway.
Still, once you get past the group dynamics at play there’s a lot to see. And Collective Design is doing its due diligence to make the show relevant to younger buyers by pumping in some lifeblood via:
- Sight Unseen OFFSITE’s pop-up, a micro-version of their own NYCxDESIGN show that includes the captivating work by Mimi Jung, a textile artist with graphic design roots.
- A gorgeous, show-stopping woven tapestry by Le Corbusier (very top), of all people. The man designed buildings—and wove tapestries—who knew?
- Print All Over Me’s dimly lit nap room stuffed with wacky-shaped cushions for lounging, a welcome respite with easy vibes and a way better alternative to the stuffy “VIP Room” directly across the hall, where you can spot sour-looking ladies puckering their lips around plastic wine glasses of complimentary Chardonnay.
- Jonah Takagi’s #ArtsyTakeover “Colosseum,” a riff on the Greek amphitheater made from industrial buildings materials—a refreshingly raw shift from the shiny, pretty things at the fair. Takagi’s clever spin is that behind the outward-facing steps is a private, inner bench seat, perfect for transacting those hush-hush deals.
- The gorgeous geometric planters by Cody Hoyt, who studied printmaking before getting into ceramics. His work feels fresh, yet timeless—your potted plants never had it so good.
- The Toiletpaper booth, which I still can’t make heads or tails of (such is the world of Toiletpaper), but where one can purchase an $1,800 bitten bar of soap (see above) or an $8,000 phallic egg-and-cactus sculpture made from polyurethane foam. Oh, Maurizio Cattelan, you kidder.
- The decidedly Memphis bent of the presentation (so in right now!) curated by W magazine’s Stefano Tonchi and the booth of actual distributor of Ettore Sottsass and all things Memphis Milano and Studio Alchimia, Urban Architecture.