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Tag Archives: designers

Designers Show How Much Interior Design Has Changed Over The Past 600 Years (12 Pics)

If you ever visited your grandparents’ or your great grandparents’ homes, you probably noticed how differently their rooms are decorated when compared to your own place. But have you though how the same rooms might have looked four, five or even six hundred years ago?

The designers at HomeAdvisor, a digital marketplace for home services, have created a unique project that shows how much the interior design trends changed over the past 600 years. From the wooden panels in Renaissance apartments to the funky and abstract furniture in postmodern style homes, check out the interior design trends throughout the years in the gallery below!

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Renaissance (1400 – 1600)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“Art and culture were reborn as the French Renaissance spread across Europe. Architects found a renewed enthusiasm for ornate decoration and fine detail, inspired by a new sense of humanism and freedom. Arabesque and Asian influences revitalized the decorative arts, and careful attention to symmetry and geometry brought a new sense of harmony to European interiors.

We designed the cabinet in our Renaissance living room image in the shape of a small palazzo (palace) which was common at the time. Its columns and balconies echo the shape of the building, evoking harmony. The Turkish rug is inspired by one seen in a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, a German painter who lived in Renaissance-era London. Rugs like this were first woven in western Turkey in the 14th century and became very popular in Renaissance Europe.”

Baroque (1590 – 1725)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“Turkish rugs fell out of fashion during the Baroque period, as more opulent and elaborate architecture required fixtures and fittings to match. The Catholic Church was the first to develop this new sense of affluence as an attempt to impress the uneducated masses with their wealth and power. Hence the frames of the Louis XIV-style suite seem to be dripping with gold.

Beneath the gilded finish, the frame of the furniture was often made from tropical wood. Other exotic materials such as ivory were popular, and surfaces such as floors and table-tops were usually marble. Our color scheme here is dramatic and sensual. The play of light around a baroque living room would have been exaggerated to create a sense of movement and enormity.”

Rococo (1700)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“Towards the end of the Baroque period, a subset of the style briefly stole the limelight. Rococo style (from the French word rocaille, meaning shell ornamentation) was famous for just three decades during the reign of Louis XV. It is lighter, more whimsical, and freer than Baroque. For some, it better suited the intimacy of the family home than the grand church style that came before it.

The shell and floral motifs in our Rococo living room are typical of the style’s more playful influence on home décor. The cabriole legs and scroll feet of the furniture delicately balance high-spirits and elegance. Social gatherings in the home were becoming more common in the early 18th century. The Rococo style allowed homeowners to demonstrate their wealth and taste without appearing showy or stuffy.”

Neoclassical (1780 – 1880)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“The late Georgian era ushered in a new age of architecture that responded to the Baroque and Rococo periods. The rediscovery of Pompeii contributed to new understandings of Roman and Greek architecture. This inspired a movement towards more ‘tasteful,’ refined, and timeless design principles, free from the pomp and novelty of the Baroque trend.

Notice the straight lines and logical, almost mathematical layout of our Neoclassical living room. These design principles were spread throughout Europe by artists studying at the French Academy in Rome. Note the column-like shape of the fireplace, lamps, and paneling. Colors were mild and undramatic. A plain palate emphasized the stoic, superior sense of form that the Neoclassical embodied.”

Arts and Crafts (1860 – 1910)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“The Arts and Crafts movement began in England as a reaction against the mechanization of creativity and the economic injustices of the industrial age. It was not so much a style as an approach, putting the responsibility for design and craft back in the hands of skilled workers. However, Arts and Crafts interiors shared an aesthetic of simplicity, quality of material, and a connection to nature.

The ideas and look of the Arts and Crafts movement spread to American living rooms via the influence of touring architect-designers, journals, and society lectures. Gustav Stickley was America’s foremost Arts and Crafts designer. You can see his influence in the chunky, function-led woodwork of the furniture in the image, which makes a feature of exposed joinery. This emphasis on wood, brass, and the artisan’s touch gives Arts and Crafts interiors a dark, earthy, and textured palette.”

Art Nouveau (1890 – 1920)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“Art Nouveau was a ‘new art’ for a new century. Interior designers paired handcraft with new industrial techniques, which often made for an expensive process. Furniture and fittings were extravagant and modern, exhibiting the influence of Japanese art, which European artists were seeing for the first time near the end of the 19th century.

The vases and lamps in our Art Nouveau living room are inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the celebrated artist and first Design Director at Tiffany’s. His glass-blown forms were a tribute to the natural world, and their lush, iridescent and swirling colors are typical of Art Nouveau.”

Art Deco (1920s to 1960s)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“If Bauhaus and Modernism were the utilization of 20th-century advances, Art Deco was a glamorous celebration. Interior designers were inspired by the geometry and motion of the machine age, materials, and symbols of ancient cultures, and rebirth in nature. And they weren’t afraid to use them all together.

Designers created a feeling of opulence by using a wide range of materials, including lacquered wood, stained glass, stainless steel, aluminum, jewels, and leather. Bold colors and striking contrasts conjured power and confidence.

Strong, straight lines echo through the fireplace and mirror trim to the skyscrapers in the woodcuts on the wall. Note also how these lines boldly counterpoint the shell-shaped sofa, flowing chairs, and spiky ornaments and houseplant.”

Modernism (1880 – 1940)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“Like the Arts and Crafts movement, Modernism is less of a style than a philosophy. “A house is a machine for living in,” said Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier, the pioneer of Modernism. The Modernist living room utilized the latest materials and technologies. It was designed to be comfortable, functional, and affordable. Beauty was a bonus, although elegant design solutions were highly valued.

These ‘limits’ proved inspiring to the first generation of professional ‘interior designers.’ The table you see above is inspired by a famous design by Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi. It consists only of a plate of glass, two identical wooden supports, and a pivot rod to hold them together. The original Anglepoise lamp was invented by an engineer who was inspired by his work on vehicle suspension – demonstrating the close connection between Modernist interiors and the 20th-century industry.”

Bauhaus (1919 – 1934)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“The Bauhaus (rhymes with ‘cow-house’) was a hugely influential German school of art and architecture. It existed for just 14 years until the Nazi government closed it down in 1933. Bauhaus design was a radical subset of Modernism, with greater emphasis on the human spirit and the craftsperson. As with Modernism, form followed function. Bauhaus interiors were true to their materials, meaning that they didn’t hide the underlying structure of a furniture piece to make it pretty.

Our Bauhaus rug is inspired by the work of Anni Albers, a graduate and teacher of the Bauhaus school. Albers experimented with shape and color to produce textiles that were equally art and craft. The lamp is modeled after the MT8 or ‘Bauhaus Lamp.’ Its circular, cylindrical, and spherical parts create geometric unity and can be built with minimal time and materials. This type of opaque lampshade had only previously been seen in industrial settings.”

Mid-Century Modern (1930 – today)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“The Mid-Century Modern movement emerged as a softer, suburban take on Modernism, integrating natural elements. Interior designers introduced rustic elements and freer use of color inspired by Scandinavian and Brazilian furniture trends. Materials such as rattan, bamboo, and wicker felt both natural and modern when brought into the living room in the form of chairs, mirrors, and trim.

Statement lighting remains a simple way to add pizzazz to a well-used family living room. The lampshade and standing lamp in our picture both borrow formal elements from Modernism and Bauhaus but have the playful look of repurposed outdoor tools. The bright mustard of the armchair and vases exemplify the common Mid-Century Modern technique of pairing muted neutrals with a saturated signature color.”

Postmodern (1978 – today)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“Postmodern design can trace its artistic influences from epoch-defining surrealist, Marcel Duchamp, to Pop Art’s crown jester, Andy Warhol, to the ambiguous Bad Taste of Jeff Koons. It all came together in the 1980s when designers threw off the shackles of Modernism and approached interiors with a sense of humor and the brash confidence we associate with the decade.

In a Postmodern living room, every piece is a talking piece – because each one has a double-meaning or visual joke to unpack. The arches in our image question classical ideals of form, both flattening and unflattening a traditionally austere shape with an optical illusion conjured by their irreverent color palette. The rug’s meaning is simpler. It adds a rock n’ roll feel with its vinyl record shape – a Warhol-like ironic celebration of late 20th-century materialism.”

Contemporary (1980s – today)

Image credits: HomeAdvisor

“A cluttered age calls for a pared-back living room. Today’s contemporary style borrows the clean lines of Modernism and the airy, outdoors feel of the Mid-Century Modern home. Interior designers in the late 2010s love to give a nod to Bauhaus by peeling away surfaces to show the materials at work. However, today’s cutting-edge building materials and textiles can sit happily alongside repurposed industrial features from past eras.

The smooth, bare floor and uncluttered walls of our contemporary living room create a typical sense of space and light. Abstract art on the walls prevents the area from feeling empty and draws out the subtle style of the otherwise minimalist surroundings. Observe, too, the use of line to draw your eye around, such as the horizontal central light, which is both extraordinary and very simple – and seems to widen and heighten the room.”

See the full video below!

Aušrys Uptas

One day this guy just kind of figured “I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?” – and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that’s trending around the web. Something that always peeks his interests is old technology, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness so if you find something that’s too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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Call For Proposals: IDS Conference

Experts, designers, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, futurists – showcase your original approach and engaging ideas among the decision makers of design.

IDS is Canada’s largest design show bringing together the industry’s foremost minds and luminaries. Our Conference symposium is a unique opportunity to bring your case studies, teachings, predictions and never-before seen approaches to an engaged audience of over 14,000 professionals looking to learn, spend and be inspired.

We are examining design through a broad, multidisciplinary lens, and encourage sessions which bring new approaches to audience participation and knowledge sharing, from panel discussions and solo presentations to workshops, interactive design labs and more. In our second application cycle we will now be accepting content discussing The Future of Living and Technology.

AyA Kitchens in partnership with U31 Design and Cleaf addressed The Future of Canadian Living in 2018 through several pod-like treehouses that displayed innovative uses of texture, height, and space.

The Future of Living – How will our public and private spaces shape our future: personal, social and environmental? How do we design with empathy for both humanity and our fragile planet? Are modern needs forming or fracturing our communities? Are you designing for a world that no longer exists? This stream will uncover new ways of living and challenge the processes and policies we work within.

Powered by Microsoft HoloLens,Harrison Fae Design reimagined the idea of your inner child in 2019 their space PLAY.

Technology – Technology is evolving every industry, and designers must expertly navigate this world where change is a constant. How do you create client trust in technology? How do you seamlessly – and appropriately – integrate technology into a space? How, when and where is technology best utilized? And how do you sustainably leverage new techniques to future proof your business and career, no matter what new norms emerge?

Speakers, seminars, panels and workshops will be selected based on varying criteria including: relevancy, timeliness, originality, speaker experience and cohesion with the seminar program. We thank all applicants for their interest.


Take a look at some of the engaging speakers that inspired and educated visitors at IDS19. Join us as a speaker for IDS20. Applications close August 15th.

Apply Now.

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*Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation came into effect July 1st, 2014. As a result of this new law, we need your explicit consent to send you news, info and special offers about IDS Toronto. For more information on CASL and how Informa Canada is working to comply please contact us at info@interiordesignshow.com and 416 512 3869.

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Beyond Amenities, What’s Next for Workplace Design?

At a panel discussion titled “The New Basics,” designers, developers, and facilities experts tried to work out what will be essential to the office of the future.

 

From private chefs to meditation rooms, companies have pulled out all the stops when it comes to amenities in the workplace. Whether driven by the battle for talent or employee demands, tech and media organizations in particular continue to vie with one another to provide employee benefits. Cafes, phone booths, and lounges have become commonplace, with nap rooms and fitness centers following suit. But how much amenity is too much amenity? Is there any downside to this trend, and what should we consider to be the new basics of the office?

A group of workplace experts gathered at the Poppin showroom in San Francisco earlier this year to discuss these questions and point to a way forward in office design. Primo Orpilla, whose award-winning firm Studio O+A created some of the first amenity-rich offices in the tech sector, spoke to the origins of the trend. “We really just wanted to create a place where people would come together, collaborate, share ideas and maybe spend a little more time, and that time be more meaningful,” he said. “It was also a great way for the company to show that they cared.”

But now the pendulum might have swung too far, said Alex Spilger, vice president of development and director of sustainability at Cushman & Wakefield: “I see friends that work for these tech companies that say, ‘I want to leave my job but I’m afraid to give up the free massage and the free food,’ and I have to ask them, ‘Are you staying there for the right reasons?’”

Amenities cannot be expected to stand in for a sense of purpose among employees, and companies have to work at fostering that spirit of community. “The spaces have to have meaning to the company and to the employees,” said Verda Alexander, cofounder of Studio O+A. “The idea of superficial amenity spaces really needs to fall by the wayside.”

So what kinds of amenities would not be considered superficial? Sometimes, essential amenities are determined by the culture of the organization, said John Liu, facilities director at Rakuten. At his company, “AV is gargantuan everywhere because that allows [companies] to have video conferencing with every office, to be able to sync up without having employees travel as much.” Hoteling is another such amenity, which Liu finds he has to figure more and more into his headcount projections.

However, workers aren’t just concerned about short-term benefits for themselves or their employers. “People want to work for companies that care,” Spilger said, “so a commitment to sustainability is a core amenity.” The urban (or suburban) context, and the company’s commitments to the community outside also figure heavily in employees’ list of wants. “Those values are part of the new basics,” said Jason Bonnet, vice president of development at Brookfield Properties. “I can get a paycheck from any tech company here, but what are you really doing when I step outside as it relates to improving where I live?” At Brookfield’s new developments in San Francisco, such as 5M and Pier 70, office spaces are situated within a mixed-use context. The developers have built social impact into the plans, offering ground-level activations and donating spaces to non-profits.

Talking about the backlash against tech giants in Seattle and San Francisco, Alexander said she wished offices could integrate “more amenity spaces that are maybe on the ground floor, accessible to the public and that interact with the public. I would love to see more social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and any kind of amenity space that could directly engage the public.”

Spilger summed up the discussion by offering a demographic analysis of where workplace design needs to focus next. “A lot of amenities were driven by millennials—ping pong tables, foosball, free food, happy hours,” he said. “Those millennials are starting families. They no longer need the happy hour or the ping pong table; they want flexibility, autonomy, and purpose behind the work.”

Categories: Workplace Interiors

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Interior Design’s Market Live 2019 Brings Together Designers and New Brands

On the eve of NYCxDESIGN, 14 brands from around the country offered designers a look at their latest offerings at Interior Design’s Market Live event. Held on May 9, the manufacturers and artisans presented a curated selection of textiles, surfaces, lighting, and other products to more than 140 guests at the magazine’s New York City headquarters. The evening offered an opportunity for specifiers to learn about new manufacturers in the marketplace while mingling with fellow industry professionals over drinks and bites. The gathering was an intimate and inspiring way to get in the spirit of design before another exciting NYCxDESIGN kicks off. 

A special thanks to our sponsors who made this event possible:  

> See the NYCxDESIGN event calendar

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Highlights from #PLDSGN: Up-and-Coming Designers from Poland at WantedDesign

Look at Me Plates by Magda Pilaczynska. Photography courtesy of Magda Pilaczynska.

 

An exhibition and pop-up at WantedDesign in Manhattan is spotlighting emerging Polish design, from ceramics to jewelry and even toys. Titled #PLDSGN: Up-And-Coming Designers from Poland, the exhibit is presented by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, an organization dedicated to showcasing Polish arts and culture on the international level. Throughout the exhibit, one trend is clear: a growing preference for sustainable manufacturing and the reduction of environmental impact.

Goods will be for sale at WantedDesign at the Terminal Stores in Manhattan through May 21, and at WantedDesign’s IC Store in Brooklyn from May 23 through June 13. The presentation coincides with the Institute’s launch of its Guide to Polish Design, a comprehensive online document surveying a century of Polish design. Here are five highlights from the exhibition.

Read more: Highlights from WantedDesign Brooklyn

Photography courtesy of Magda Pilaczynska.

Look at Me Plates by Magda Pilaczynska

Illustrator and designer Magda Pilaczynska adorns each of her porcelain dishes with spirited graphics and gilded detailing. Look at Me Plates measure 25 inches across and are equipped with a hanger, so they’re suited to walls as well as tables. Plus, each piece is unique—Pilaczynska crafts and fires each one by hand.

Photography courtesy of UAU Project.

Bubble 06 lamp by UAU Project

To sustain its goal of zero waste and zero emission, UAU Project generally makes its products to order—like this Space Age-inspired lamp, Bubble 06, which the company designed and 3D printed in recyclable bioplastic at its Warsaw studio.

Photography courtesy of ATOMY.

Bangle Bag No. 2 by ATOMY

ATOMY’s line of exclusively hand-sewn bags use only regional materials and plants, and none of it goes to waste. Take, for example, its Bangle Bag No. 2, which is handcrafted of fully organic, vegetable-tanned cowhide leather. It sports a robust wax coating for water resistance, along with a pair of circular 3D-printed handles that lend the tote its name.

Photography courtesy of bro.Kat.

Carbon jewelry by bro.Kat

Strongly influenced by its roots in Europe’s Silesia region, design collective bro.Kat forays into fashion with a new collection of carbon jewelry referencing the region’s days as a wealthy exporter of coal. It’s a project befitting the company’s name, which is both a nod to its home city of Katowice and a play on words, translating, roughly, to “black gold.”

Photography courtesy of Fenek.

Espresso cups by Fenek

At only four centimeters tall, these artisanal cups by Fenek are perfectly scaled for espresso. Handcrafted in porcelain, each features a small face—one of the Warsaw-based studio’s several hallmarks—along with quirky glazes in a range of abstract patterns. 

Read more: Q&A With WantedDesign Co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat

Continue reading Highlights from #PLDSGN: Up-and-Coming Designers from Poland at WantedDesign

10 Questions With… EDIT Napoli Founders Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petruccelli

EDIT Napoli, a new fair created to support and promote independent design and craft, launches on June 6th in Naples, Italy. Focused on the rise of the designer-maker figure, the debut will feature 60 exhibitors—among them well-known and emerging designers as well as established producers and manufacturers—who all have one thing in common: they favor quality over quantity and have a practice rooted in making. Interior Design spoke to the two women behind the project, Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petrucelli, about the city of Naples, the event, and alternatives to globalized, standardized products.

Interior Design: What does Naples represent to you compared to other Italian or international cities?

Domitilla Dardi: It is the only truly international Italian city. It was the capital of Italy before Rome was and has an urban structure that brings to mind both the great European metropolises of Paris or Madrid with their wide ‘boulevards’ and the small Italian art towns. And then it also has the port and the sea. Naples is one of the Mediterranean capitals and its geographical situation makes it perfect as a crossroads for exchange and cultural encounters. It is no coincidence that it has always been the only Italian city, along with Venice, that is a real reference point for international contemporary art. They are both gateway cities between East and West.

One of the exhibitors at the fair is Beirut-based Nayef Francis. Pictured are his Weave floor and ceiling lamps made of beech wood and wicker. Photography courtesy of Rana Massaad.

ID: What was it about the city that inspired you to create this event?

Emilia Petruccelli: As a city, Naples never leaves people indifferent. There is too much sameness and standardization in the world and I believe that we need more cities like Naples, where you can breathe and cultivate difference and independent ideas. The people who will come to EDIT Napoli are looking for something different, something unexplored.

ID: When did you get the idea for EDIT Napoli?

DD: Emilia came to me two years ago with two very clear ideas: that we should launch a new fair and we should do it in Naples. Together we understood that instead of focusing on sectors like collectible design and design galleries—which already have endless venues and events—we should focus on the world of small batch production, craftsmanship, and the designer-maker. Today this figure is more relevant than ever. We need products that have an identity.

EP: We wanted to create something that was curated, but where people could still be surprised. An event with purpose and clear economic intentions. I believe that independent design has to do business in order to survive.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Lisa White, Curator of the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne

During the EDIT Napoli residency program, Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays worked with the leather and iron artisans of Quartieri, a central working-class district in Naples, to create these refined coffee tables and consoles. Photography courtesy of Claudio Bonoldi.

 

ID: Why was it important, in your opinion, to launch EDIT Napoli?

EP: Because the retail world is moving and changing fast, from the internet to the commercial and industrial strategies of flagship brands. It needs to innovate and to do so it needs specific places in which it can reflect this change and address it. EDIT Napoli proposes being that place.

DD: Because a fair dedicated to this market segment didn’t exist. We have done a lot of research in the run-up to the event, but the fair won’t be about prototypes or concepts; it will be about real products for the real world.

ID: Who do you want to reach, convince, convert with EDIT Napoli?

EP: We aim to reach and connect international buyers, architects, designers, shop owners, interior designers, all the different strands of the design world basically. The ambition of EDIT Napoli is to become an international reference point for authored design, which thanks to the push of the fair we hope will experience sustainable growth within a few years.

Amsterdam-based design duo Faberhama spent their month-long residency working with historic textile company De Negri & Za.Ma in San Leucio, a town known since the 18th century for silk weaving. The prototypes made then will be showc at the fair and then produced and sold  under the Made in EDIT label. Photography courtesy of Claudio Bonoldi.

 

ID: Is there a large community of makers, artisans and designers in Naples and the surrounding area?

DD: There is a large community of artisans throughout Italy and in all Mediterranean countries. It is a historical fact that where industry did not have the right socio-economic conditions to take off, craft continued to thrive. But today craft uses updated tools and advanced technologies. There is still much to do to make this sector more widely known and more accessible and this is what we are aiming to do. We want to be a sounding board for the sort of design that can be a genuine alternative to globalized and standardized products.

ID: Do you hope that the event can work as an economic engine for the city?

DD: EDIT Napoli was created as something that could impact various industries in the region. A good example of this is the Made in EDIT residencies. We hosted international designers for a month so they could work with local artisans. The result won’t just be a unique piece that tells the beautiful story of this encounter, the result will be an object or collection that will be replicated, produced, and sold as part of the Made in EDIT brand. Everyone involved in the process will profit from this relationship, not just economically but also in human terms.

The venue for the festival is the monumental 13th-century Complesso di San Domenico Maggiore, a Baroque monastery built on older ruins that has been transformed over the centuries. Photography courtesy of Bianca Hirata.

ID: Can you give me some examples of important and interesting crafts, materials, and manufacturers in the area that you are looking at?

DD: For Made in EDIT, we investigated the ancient Bourbon silk factories of nearby San Leucio with Amsterdam-based designers Faberhama, the leather and metal artisans of the city’s historic central districts with Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays, and the ceramicists of Minori on the Amalfi coast with NYC-based artist Reinaldo Sanguino. In the future we will focus on other manufacturing processes, too, such as coral brooches and Capodimonte porcelain, for instance.

ID: Are there any other local crafts that we should know about?

EP: We are already looking at numerous other artisans and supporting them, so they can take part in the 2020 edition. They include stonemasons, leather goods craftspeople, weavers, and cabinet-makers. But we also want to open ourselves to other craft sectors and not necessarily only local ones from the Campania region.

Milan-based practice De Amicis Architetti will be at the fair with its modular “Otto” table, which can function as a workbench, a dining table, or a large communal table. Photography courtesy of Alberto Strada.

 

ID: Tell me about a particular highlight at EDIT Napoli? Something you yourselves can’t wait to see?

DD: We are excited to see the new collections. Almost all of our 60 exhibitors are bringing products that they are presenting commercially for the first time at EDIT and for this reason we have launched a dedicated award for best new product to be judged by an international jury. It will be interesting to see the ‘big names’ in design rubbing shoulders with experienced craftspeople and the most disparate typologies being presented side by side.

Read more: 10 Questions With…the Team Behind the Dundee Design Festival 2019

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Potential tile tariffs drive a wedge between distributors and designers

A pile of tile stacked in Shigu, Yunnan, China (CEphoto, Uwe Aranas/Wikimedia)

Seizing on the momentum generated by the Trump administration’s timber and steel tariffs, a coalition of tile manufacturers is lobbying the U.S. government to impose tariffs of over 400 percent on Chinese-supplied ceramic tiles. While the approval of new duties could lift domestic producers, some design industry professionals are pushing back.

On April 10, eight U.S. ceramic tile producers, all members of the Tile Council of North America, successfully petitioned the Department of Commerce (DOC) to launch an investigation into China’s practice of tile dumping. That group, collected under the name “Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile,” included American Wonder Porcelain, Florida Tile, Inc., Crossville, Inc., Florim USA, Dal-Tile Corporation, Landmark Ceramics, Del Conca USA, Inc., and StonePeak Ceramics. The coalition claims that the Chinese government is subsidizing the production of ceramic tiles to below-market-rate prices (or even below production costs) to artificially crowd out the competition, and the group is asking that the DOC impose retaliatory penalties on Chinese manufacturers to level the playing field.

To avoid confusion over what is and is not a tile, the coalition has issued a blanket request pertaining to any tile-like product, no matter the use, thickness, or design, for pieces up to five-feet-by-fifteen-feet. The scope of the complaint also includes tile originating in China and modified— beveled, painted, or refined in any way—in the United States.

In response, the newly-formed Ceramic Tile Alliance (CTA), a group of designers, retailers, and distributors, has launched a petition against imposing new tariffs on Chinese tile. The group argues that doing so would hurt the long-term health of the U.S. ceramics industry to the benefit of domestic manufacturers, that architects and interior designers would lose valuable connections that they’ve cultivated with international artisans, and that retailers would only be able to offer a limited selection.

Additionally, the CTA alleges that showrooms would need to renovate their displays, some of them larger wall and floor pieces, to reflect that certain products would be no longer available. Overall, the CTA estimates that “thousands” of jobs could be lost as distributors and retailers would be forced out of business by higher prices and restricted supplies.

The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) will issue a preliminary injury determination by May 27. If the ITC and DOC find in favor of the coalition, the duties could be imposed as early as the beginning of next May.

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Why are designers leaving money on the table?

This is the first in a series of columns from Maury Riad, the founder and CEO of Fuigo.

Designers are undoubtedly the stars of the interior design industry. There’s a reason manufacturers lavish so many fancy dinners and free trips on them: These brands understand the power designers wield over their clients’ purchases. But after two decades in the industry, I have seen how common it is for designers to get squeezed out of their fair margins. They deserve more—and there are simple methods that have been successfully used by other industries for decades that can increase a designer’s bottom line.
Three years ago, I co-founded Fuigo, a project management platform and interior design co-working space in New York, in order to help designers gain access to the tools they need to be successful. I knew plenty of interior designers who ran thriving practices, but felt that they were being severely shortchanged—especially considering the pivotal role they play as industry tastemakers and gatekeepers for the entire buying channel to suppliers.

Other industries—from medicine to construction—have already caught on to this power dynamic, creating group purchasing organizations to leverage their collective buying power. When group purchasing happens in these other lines of business, buyers from different organizations team up to negotiate better terms. If you are a hospital looking for gauze, you find a couple of other hospitals that also want to purchase gauze, then approach the medical supplier as a group to strike a deal. From a simple supply-and-demand perspective, this type of aggregated purchasing power makes perfect sense. But in the interior design industry, this concept hasn’t yet become the norm.

Designers typically make purchases either directly from the manufacturer for a trade discount, or through a retailer’s trade services program (which is really brands leveraging their larger wholesale discount and passing a few percentage points of their profit to their designer customers). In both cases, purchasing involves establishing a one-on-one relationship, making a custom order, and executing significant follow-up with a third-party retailer for what are often bespoke pieces that are hard to keep track of—in short, a huge logistical effort for most design firms. By relying mostly on complex systems of purchasing, designers get squeezed out of potential earnings. The interior designer’s margins can also be jeopardized when a client’s choices and selections max out their budget—the designer’s margin is often the first to be sacrificed to keep clients happy and save a project.

Ultimately, neither purchasing methodology truly leverages the buying power of designers en masse. What has been missing in our industry is the infrastructure to make this possible. But from a brand’s perspective, it’d be a welcome change. Take Fortuny, the company my family has been running for 25 years. As a globally recognized textile house, we know how group discounting can take our product accessibility to the next level, not only driving greater sales but also empowering more talented designers to use our materials.

Group purchasing is not completely new to the industry—companies like Design Trade Service offer access to trade brands with better discounts and logistics management, and designers have long formed their own ad hoc groups to take advantage of better pricing—but have never become mainstream. In my work with Fuigo, I have seen exactly what creating this kind of support can do for an interior designer, from the ease and resourcefulness of group workspaces to the increased accessibility of a shared sourcing library, and I believe that group purchasing should be next. With the recent launch of Market, an online marketplace of to-the-trade vendors, our project management system now does all the legwork of group buying by simply introducing a commercial infrastructure. It’s a highway speedily connecting buyers and suppliers, where demand is already aggregated and the “group rate” is always in effect.

I believe the deeper discount designers will receive from group purchasing could as much as double their gross margins, on top of trade discounts, which would elevate the designer’s profit margin on client projects. No matter how designers access that group discount, the benefits of group purchasing are within close reach of the interior design industry, and it’s a missed opportunity for designers who aren’t taking advantage of that power. Technology will bring our industry to the next level, and utilizing the tools to get there will keep design moving forward.

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Why are designers leaving money on the table?Maury Riad is the founder and CEO of Fuigo, a co-working space for designers in New York and project management software. He is also the co-owner of renowned international textiles brand Fortuny, which his family has owned for nearly three decades. In his column for BOH, Riad shares his deep insight into the business of design and how designers work today to weigh in on how, with small changes to their business model, design professionals can revolutionize the industry.

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13 Designers Dream Up Objects With Unlikely Collaborators for Sight Unseen Offsite 2018

Coal Planters by Fernando Mastrangelo x Boyd Holbrook. Charity: Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Photography by Cary Whittaker.

The liminal areas between creative fields are a constant source of inspiration for Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer, founders of Sight Unseen. So for Sight Unseen OFFSITE’s flagship exhibition during NYCxDESIGN 2018, called “Field Studies,” the duo paired 13 furniture and interior designers with creatives from such fields as food, fashion, film, art, and music. The prompt? Design a functional object together.

“The idea was to connect creatives across disciplinary boundaries so they could work outside their comfort zones, search for commonalities in their practices, and discover what interesting, unexpected ideas might result,” said the founders in a statement. Each design duo masterminded objects ranging from sconce lighting and lounge chairs to wall-mounted mirrors. Showcased at Sight Unseen’s 201 Mulberry Street hub in New York from May 17-20, each object is available for purchase on 1stdibs with net proceeds going to a charity of each pair’s choosing. 

Atlas Mirror by Bower Studios x Seth Rogen in mirrored glass, enamel paint, and walnut. Charity: Hilarity for Charity. Photography by Josh Gaddy.
Oracle Sconce by Christopher Stuart x Julia Dault in mirrored polished bronze. Charity: Center for Reproductive Rights and Greenpeace. Photography by Jessica Uçul.
Liquid Collusion light sculpture by Harry Nuriev x Liam Gillick in steel and plexiglass. Charity: Naked Heart Foundation. Photography by Mikhail Loskutov.
HW10 Valet by Home Studios x Natasha Royt in brass, leather, and marble. Charity: Planned Parenthood. Photography by Josh Gaddy.
PnKrck Armchair by Kelly Behun x Narciso Rodriguez in linen suede and lacquered oak. Charity: Aid for AIDS. Photography by Josh Gaddy.
Rebelle Ottoman by Kelly Wearstler x Aimee Song in brass, goat hair, and marble. Charity: A Sense of Home. Photography by Dan Arnold.
Sap Tall & Ikebana Vases by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio x Kaarem in silk and resin. Charity: Aid to Children Without Parents. Photography by Josh Gaddy.
Architecture of Song candleholders by The Principals x Angel Olsen in aluminum. Charity: Save the Music Foundation. Photography by Josh Gaddy.
Three Quilt Collection by Rafael de Cárdenas x Mel Ottenberg in brushed wool, silk, and suede.  Charity: The Center. Photography by Josh Gaddy.
Four Minutes Less Than an Hour by Tyler Hays x Andreu Kuo in wood, oak, and paint. Charity: Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. Photography courtesy of Sight Unseen.
Marzipan Pianette by Wall for Apricots x Jason Schwartzman in plywood and maple. Charity: Safe Place for Youth. Photography by Dan Arnold.

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How Designers Make Roller Shades Look Super Chic

Compared to a set of custom Roman shades or drapes, plain roller shades are the steal of the century—a few hundred bucks versus a few thousand, easily—and they beat out café curtains and slatted blinds for looks by a mile. But the turn-offs are real, too: that mechanical roller, sticking out like a store thumb; the plastic-y fabric you wish were more like actual linen; sterile colors and bad patterns only, apparently. It’s hard to decide if they’ll look frumpish or nice (or how to steer them towards the latter) but somehow, designers manage it. So we called on Kevin Greenberg, principal at Space Exploration design, for his best tricks of the trade when employing roller shades, starting with when to use them at all: “We use roller shades in our projects with modern or contemporary detailing because of their clean, discreet look,” he says. “They’re an especially good complement to windows that have deep jambs, and in situations where windows are detailed without trims or casings.”

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