The Architectural Digest Home and Design Show 2015
This year, thee Architecural Digest Home and Design Show did not disappoint, especially the MADE section. As expected, Brooklyn designers dominated the MADE section of the show and the entire section was buzzing with artisans who were there to showcase their craft. And craft it was- a rejection of mass production, a return to quality product where form and function coexist, and where furniture and lighting are just as much art as they are serving a purpose.
There were three distinct materials and applications that set this young collective of Brooklyn designers apart from the crowd:
Brass inlay in wood, the use of vegetable tanned leather in new, innovative ways, and a resurgence of the art of metalworking.
Inlaid Brass In Wood
Brass has been on our radar for the past couple of years. Initially, it was seen mainly in the the designer-driven market. However, the mass public quickly caught on and the return of brass has hit the American mainstream in full force. To differentiate themselves from the crowd, these Brooklyn designers incorporate brass into furniture in a way only an artist can do.
Wood and brass inlay furniture was seen all throughout the show floor – some with larger, more prominent pieces of brass, and others with much smaller but equally as powerful brass metal accents.
A walnut cocktail table from Asher Israelow showcases a constellation of brass inlaid “stars” that transforms this walnut table with simple lines into a work of art.
Another piece from Asher Israelow, also using wood with brass inlay but instead of subtle dots, this console makes a much bolder statement.
Designer Jerry Nance incorporates simple contemporary styling with impeccable precision and detailing like no other. Subtle details that make a difference in the overall design are what set his work apart from the rest. Also notice that he is right on track with opting to use a combination of lighter woods in his design, as trends seem to be favoring the use of lighter or natural finishes these days.
Palo Samko inlays strips of tanned leather combined with brass screws to give this table a little bit of extra detailing that takes it from ordinary to extraordinary. Screws, designed to serve a function, also become an integral part of the design.
Drawer fronts on this console, also by Palo Samko, utilize strips of inlaid leather with sculptural brass pulls. Again, pulls meant for function contribute to the beauty of its form.
Joints in the furniture are disguised in way that brings attention and contrast to the materials used, again by Palo Samko.
The Maderas Collective line, both conceived and produced in Nicaragua, shares the same aesthetic as many of the designs coming out of Brooklyn. Satin finished rhombus-shaped brass pieces are inlaid in walnut in a herringbone-like pattern to make a statement in any room.
Bespoke metalwork in many shapes and forms were seen all throughout the show. This was not any ordinary metal, but metal that is hand crafted, hand forged, and with surface treatments that are applied to take on a unique texture or finish.
Erin Sullivan Objects featured incredibly textural cast bronze stools that almost took on a life of their own. With realistic animal skin textures such as layered crocodile hides, snake, and feather, these stools were hard to miss. Definitely not for those on a slim budget, but we are talking art here, not simply a piece of furniture, so the price tag is warranted.
Atelier Delalain used an acid applied treatment in a starburst pattern to this Stella semilunar console to achieve the unique color and finish shown above. I saw this technique done by Bernhardt Furniture last October at High Point Market but with a slight blue cast. I am told, however, that the acid reacts different to each metal, and because Atelier Delelain uses primarily recycled steel, the results vary depending on the mix of metals in each piece.
Vermont based lighting company Hubbardton Forge has been designing lighting from hand forged steel for years, but their collaboration with Legrand brings forged steel wall plates in 6 different finishes to the table and for the first time, is coordinating light with switch. The wall plates also look great on their own and just a slight up charge from a standard wall plate makes a world difference in a room, again – elevating it from ordinary to extraordinary.
I also attended the press launch of the Hubbardton Forge and Legrand collaboration last month in New York, and you can read more about the details of the product and event on my post.
La Forge de Style pairs different metalwork techniques with modern innovation and the result is a stunning coffee table with a colorful patchwork representation of the many finishes bronze is capable of achieving.
More from La Forge De Style , a cast bronze screen and set of nesting tables highlighting the textural artistry of cast bronze.
Just like we are more drawn to metals with a natural patina instead of a shiny, lacquer coated metal, the same goes with leather. Vegetable tanning is to leather the same way that wax rubbing is to brass and unlike using a lacquer or chemicals to protect the leather, vegetable tanning allows the leather to tell a story.
Just like we are drawn to metals with a natural patina instead of a shiny, lacquer coated metal, the same goes with leather. Vegetable tanning is to leather the same way that wax rubbing is to brass and unlike using a lacquer or chemicals to protect the leather, vegetable tanning offers a natural protectant which allows the leather to tell a story over time.
I remember 30 years ago, when I was stil in high school, I babysat for weeks to earn enough money to purchase an Il Bisonte handbag made of vegetable tanned leather. Seeing these beautiful leathers at the show that utilize the same technique always makes me think back to that first handbag- it is timeless and speaks to that certain hand crafted, artisanal quality that gets more beautiful with time.
Dylan Design Co. also sees the beauty of vegetable tanned leather and uses leather as hardware for their furniture. The beauty with tanned leather used as hardware is that oils in the fingers used to open and close the doors and drawers will darken the leather over time, adding to its beauty.
Tanned hides are used for these hand crafted chairs by Palo Samko and finished with hand sewn detailing on the chair backs.
Last but one least, the first piece of furniture that caught my eye when I arrived at the show was this hand- dimpled white oak desk from Atelier Delalain, painted and weathered to give the wood this unique surface. A natural leather top is added on top and the edge is meticulously cut to match the edge of the wood dimples. FYI – designer Emmanuel Delalain dimples every piece of furniture himself before handing it off to one of several artisans in his studio to put together the finishing details.
So there you have it- my round up on key observations at the AD Show. Of course there was another section dedicated to high end kitchen and bath, but much of what I saw there I had already seen at the Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS) recently held in Las Vegas and you can read about those trends in my earlier posts.
Be sure to visit back for more on the AD Show!