This year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) signified to me that Generation X has reached the age where they can afford over-priced, high-quality design. In addition to the typical minimal, sterile, white or black furniture pieces that pervade the Javits Center each year, I found a refreshing breath of wit and satire that often marks the personalities of Gen Xers.
In a sea of luxury, some designers are choosing not to take themselves so seriously. The booth of Milan-based Sicis, which opened a NYC showroom during ICFF, featured an Italian street scene made of mosaic tiles, complete with a full-scale tree and a bench with life-size figures. The perimeter of the Philadelphia-based Amuneal Manufacturing Corporation booth sported metal walls with cutouts of birds in flight. The company’s tagline: “There are no limits.”
While sincere in their research and development of new, green and synthetic materials, amusement is at the forefront of these companies’ designs — challenging what has come to be known as High Design. As a Gen X member, I found myself thinking, “That would be really funny if I had a house big enough to fit that exaggerated, loud chandelier,” instead of, “If I owned that couch, I would never want to sit on it for fear of staining the imported leather fabric” as in past years.
I hope the levity will continue at future ICFF expositions. If emerging design is any indication, the School of Visual Arts booth (winner of the ICFF Editors Award for Best Booth), where MFAD students transformed IKEA chairs into personalities ranging from anal-retentive to paranoid, proves that there is more fun to come.