Art Center arrives in force at New York Design Week 2014

With New York Design Week in full swing, the city is teeming with design lovers and luminaries seeking a competitive edge on leading talent and trends. Art Center is featured at two major events: the high-profile International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and WantedDesign. Attracting nearly 30,000 tastemakers in the worlds of interior design, architecture, retail, manufacturing, distribution and developers, ICFF is considered North America’s premiere showcase for contemporary design.

Leading the College’s presence at the influential summit is David Mocarski, chair of graduate and undergraduate Environmental Design.

Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman will join Mocarski and Product Design Chair Karen Hofmann, along with industry leaders, alumni and students at a kick-off party Thursday, May 15, from 7 until 10 p.m. at Spice Market in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

Art Center’s Booth 1176 at the show’s main venue, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (11th Avenue at 38th Street), presents an exhibition featuring full-scale pieces created for The Future of Work: The Collaborative Office, a sponsored project with ATU, Ecuador, a leading producer of contract furniture in Latin America.  While investigating what defines a productive workspace, Environmental Design students explored components of the new flex office, identifying and analyzing current market trends and needs. The studio included a one-week trip to the ATU factory in Ecuador.

Furniture designs featured in the 2014 ICFF Art Center exhibition include:

Zara Vardanyan’s “MOSO” is a modular sofa that consists of six pieces: five sofa modules and one coffee table. All of the pieces can be reconfigured to create the optimal customized combination for each customer. Born in Armenia and raised in Russia, Vardanyan focuses on designs for luxury lifestyles, specifically involving furniture and the hospitality industry.

You Min Kim’s “Stitch” is a stackable lounge chair offering mobile comfort to amplify intimate connections between the user and any surrounding space, for any occasion. Born in Seoul, Korea, Kim is developing design practices with the goal of deepening his understanding of human needs and merging them with his fine art experience.

Subtle in its gesture, “Cohe”, created by Lawrence Kim, is a playful yet sophisticated design, engineered to be supremely light yet 
structurally stable. Cohe is sized to promote a comfortable, studious environment, whether for an individual or a group setting. A California native, Kim makes sure there is a reason for every element in his designs, other than beauty. He does his best to find a balance between function and aesthetics because, he says, “who doesn’t fall for beauty?”

John Imus Clark’s “Next Chair” was created as an answer to a question. “In an ever-changing office environment, how are people working in the office space of today?” People work much more quickly, and technology allows us to learn in a day what it used to take months to absorb. In this fast-paced work environment, the need for efficiency and collaboration is higher than ever. The era of pre-planned meetings is on its way out. This is where the Next Chair comes in, creating both a comfortable personal work environment, and the means of a collaborative workspace.  A Southern California native, Clark is about to launch Imus Design, a firm combining creative art and commercial design with experimental technologies.

With a classic turn and a clear look, “Good Cheer” created by Jenny Chen invites you to celebrate the moment of gathering together. Good Cheer is inspired by the form language of pouring wine into a glass. Its shape is meant to create the feeling of lightness, of being cupped in a glass. Discovering the smallest detail in our lives and being able to transform it into something meaningful is a direction that inspires Chen and her designs.

Hines Fischer’s “Brisa,” named after the Spanish word for “breeze,” is a lightweight task chair designed for reception areas and collaborative spaces. Inspired by the migratory habits of Ecuador’s native albatross, the design takes many cues from the seabirds. One of the 10 members of the very first Graduate Environmental Design degree earners at Art Center, Fischer looks forward to starting his job at Yabu Pushelberg, an international design firm with studios in Toronto and New York.

The form of the “Gala” chair designed by Austin Yang is inspired by the fashion of a man’s tuxedo and a woman’s backless dress. To sit in the Gala is to feel like one is wearing a fine and luxurious coat. Born and raised in China, Yang believes that good design can change the quality of people’s lives.

Inspired by the beautiful coastline of Ecuador, “Tide” designed by Angel Wang is a modular sofa system that brings people into a more casual working environment. With the 13 pieces of furniture in the Tide sofa system, the combinations are virtually infinite. Raised first in southern China and then immigrating to Canada, Wang says the design language of her work is influenced by a blend of Western and Eastern cultures.

Art Center work is also showcased at the prestigious ICFF Studio, a platform matching selected emerging designers and their prototype products with potential manufacturers. The Studio is presented by ICFF and Bernhardt Design, a frequent corporate partner and collaborator with Art Center. After submitting portfolios, hundreds of hopefuls waited for the judges’ decision on who would occupy the coveted spots at the event. This year, three Art Center students were chosen for that honor: Zara Vardanyan, Austin Yang and Yingting Jiang.

At the concurrent confab WantedDesign, Art Center Environmental Design faculty team of Penny Herscovitch and Dan Gottlieb will lead the WantedDesign NYC 2014 Design Schools Workshop on “The Future of Paper.” The workshop challenges international student teams to re-envision the expressive qualities of paper in the context of ubiquitous computing, much as painting was reinvented after the camera was popularized. They will collaborate to explore paper as a material for expression in the design of lighting, furniture, home goods, wearables and spatial environments.

The duo, who combine their talents at Padlab, a Los Angeles-based design studio, recently sat down with Design Milk to discuss this unique creative opportunity. “We’re passionate about creative collaboration across cultures, languages and disciplines,” said Herscovitch. “We believe this is at the heart of innovation and the future of design.”

Art Center student workshop participants include Jon Kim, Mariko Higaki Iwai, Junyong Park, Jenny Ting, Cheng Chen and Connie Bakshi.

Among Art Center alumni showcasing work at ICFF are John Ford (Booth 1551), Minh Nuyugen of Popkorns (Booth 811) and Nolen Niu of Nolen Niu, Inc. (Booth 1400).

Both ICFF and WantedDesign take place during NYCxDesign, a city-wide design celebration continuing through May 20th.

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