Thursday, October 5, 2017

Design Chicago 2017

I am really glad I took the time to attend this year's Design Chicago event at the Merchandise Mart. It was a great way to get informed about new products and design trends. A recurring theme was the impact of technology, particularly increased access to DIY tutorials and customizable furniture online. The Decorative Furnishings Association has a new initiative called Do It For that would be of interest to designers looking for a way to get discovered by potential clients looking for assistance online. If you are designer, click the link and check it out.

Paradoxically, in a reaction to our increasingly connected and digitized world with its wearables and  internet of things, the interest in the handmade and the tactile is rising. Texture is more important than ever before. We will be seeing more softgoods with channel quilting, velvet, and faux fur providing extreme comfort, as well as more rounded edges. Knotted goods with a macrame feel will be prevalent, as well as folk patterns from all over the world.

As for colors, gray is still the popular neutral and brass is still the metallic finish of choice, but a new metallic with an orange cast like molten lava is gaining popularity, and warmer shades of white will prevail. Sherwin Williams chose Oceanside as its color of the year for 2018.

Of the color palettes they introduced for 2018, I like Unity and Connectivity the best.

I also had a chance to learn about the Exquisite Surfaces Choose to Reuse initiative. Not only do they sell reclaimed wood flooring, but they have taken it a step further by designing a product that can later be reclaimed and used again. The key is making it so that it does not require adhesives for installation. The results are stunning.

One of the highlights of my time at the show was having the opportunity to meet one of my favorite designers, Jonathan Adler, at The Shade Store where he was talking about his product line there. But he has designed all sorts of things in his numerous collaborations. Personally, I have an assortment of his goods, from miniature vases he did for The Kaleidoscope House, to my favorite ceramic travel mug and stainless water bottle, to a laptop sleeve. One of my favorite interior design books in my studio is his colorful My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living, which he graciously signed for me after the talk.

I enjoyed hearing about his process. He said that he has a craft-based design process and begins each new piece working by hand and not on the computer. He thinks about his work in a very brooding and analytical way and wants everything he makes to have a raison d'ĂȘtre, asking himself if the world really needs one more thing and if the item he his thinking about making really needs to exist. He wants each piece to look like it was meant to be that way, to look effortless and resolved, uncovered rather than created. He thinks that designs should be personal and creating authentic work helps you to stand out and break through the noise in a crowded world. 

Two other designers whose presentations really impressed me were Patti Carpenter, who travels the world studying color trends for Maison et Objet and Pantone (what a cool job!), and Richard Anuszkiewicz, who talked about fashion forward thinking in interior design. 

In between seminars and presentations, I had the opportunity to visit some showrooms I'm familiar with as well as new ones. Here are some things I loved.

 Liaigre lounge chair

Dedon outdoor furniture

 Holly Hunt side table

 Zuo cabana (that I wish was my bed)

De Aurora furniture

Osborne & Little Folklore fabric by Matthew Williamson

I learned so much and look forward to returning next year.
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