ICFF 2013

I attended the International Contemporary Furniture Fair this year, held every year at the Jacob Javits Center. Apparently, the last time I attended ICFF was in 2011. You can view what interested me during ICFF 2011, here.

It was in 2011 that I first saw these corrugated pendants by Graypants. I like the idea and look of the fixtures. The light is filtered/obscured through the corrugation, which provides an ambient quality of lighting. The design makes it a great feature in a room, whether ganged in a group of three or more, or as a single unit. I can easily see these fixtures in a conference room of an upstart or earth friendly or tech company.

Corrugated pendant fixtures

Corrugated pendant fixtures

Compared with my last attendance of ICFF, my focus seemed to be on lighting fixtures, and less on furniture although there was one chair that stood out. A couple of materials and accessories also caught my attention.

Iacoli & McAllister designed these attractive geometric fixtures. I especially like the clustered boxed lights in copper plated frames and the way the light is intensified by the reflection of the polished finish. Very modern and a great feature over a highly lacquered black colored dining table – perhaps one that is elliptical in shape.

Cluster lighting

Cluster lighting

While walking up and down the aisles, this spherical shaped lighting fixture by moooi caught my eye. It reminded me of an allium flower. The fixture made me smile. The fixture is lit by peg-like light bulbs – kinda like twinkle lights wound into a ball but with intention. The black backdrop accentuated the brightness, making the fixture illuminate like a bright star.

Pendant lighting

Pendant lighting

Pendant lighting

I was surprised upon realizing I liked these decorative lighting fixtures by Serip (organic lighting). The fixtures are very ornate, and not something I would normally give a second glance at but as I began to walk away, my eyes stayed fixated on the organic lighting structures that either hugged the wall or suspended from above.

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

The chair that caught my attention as well as other attendees is the Parabola Chair. The web-like chair is designed by Carlo Aiello. The general structure is comprised of geometric shapes, a triangle and a square, which are slightly manipulated.

Parabola Chair

The two dimensional “square” has a wire-frame, which is then pulled back to create the seat as well as the rear leg support. The chair is fabricated with metal rods that are welded to the main “square” frame. I sat in the chair and thought it was comfortable – in the sense that I was only sitting in the chair for a few seconds. I’m not sure how well the chair will sit with me over a longer period of sitting in a hard net. What I did appreciate about the chair is it promoted an upright seating position as opposed to a chair for lounging – in my opinion.

Parabola Chair

Parabola Chair

Parabola Chair

Parabola Chair

A couple of finish materials stood out for me at ICFF, and those are the ceramic tiles by Stonepeak and the mosaic woods tiles by Materials, Inc. I thought these materials are exceptional because they are an interesting alternative to typical materials used in a given project or space. For instance, Stonepeak offers an alternative to stone with their ceramic tiles that are fabricated to look like stone without the associated cost. One of the Stonepeak reps informed me that high quality photos of stone slabs are captured, and then printed onto ceramic tiles. Some of the ceramic tiles are also fabricated with textures typical of stone. The faux stone ceramic tiles looked very convincing as stone especially when polished! It’s only when you look close up that you realize it’s not stone.

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles

Wood is typically not used in areas like the kitchen or bathroom until now*. As I was finishing up my walk through of the booths at ICFF, I came upon these mosaic wood tiles by Materials, Inc. The sales rep explained the mosaic wood tiles were designed for application in wet areas. He added that the wood pieces are laminated to a resin back with mesh, which allows the mosaic wood pieces to be used as a wall and floor finish in wet areas. The resin backer helps to reduce movement of the wood pieces in wet locations. (Wood tends to expand and contract in humid and wet locations.) An epoxy based adhesive and grout is used to install the mosaic wood sheets, which also allows the wood pieces some flexibility.

Wood mosaic

The best booth at ICFF is Jan-Kath’s oriental rugs made by hand in Nepal and Turkey. The rugs are beautiful! The designs of the rugs are such that it appears to look like antique oriental rugs that have been worn away by centuries of foot traffic. Silk and wool are used to create these luxurious rugs. The areas of the rug that appear to worn away are knotted with silk because of its inherent sheen.





If you attended ICFF 2013 feel free to leave a comment. It can be your thoughts about the show. Perhaps there was something that you liked at the show that I should take a look? Looking forward to next year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and sharing my thoughts with you.









(*)This product may have been around before I learned about it during ICFF 2013.


Gifts 4 architects x architects!

It’s that time of year again, when people are fretting over what gift to give an architect. I personally have been thinking about this year’s list of suggestions, and came up with a very modest list of gifts for architects by architects.

I admire architects who pursue creative endeavors and expression outside of their profession. I suppose one of the first people who I met who did this was the late Jon-Marc Creaney. His photographs are/were inspiring. If you are not familiar with his photography, I encourage you to check it out.

I have met a couple of more architects since Jon whose creative products I have come to admire, and I think will make excellent gifts or stocking stuffers for the architect.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I like to RT @Archimatects. I am a fan of the comics. In fact, I was asked by the creator to write a foreword for Volume 3, which is the latest volume of the Archimatects series. It’s about the profession of architecture – efficiently illustrated with clip art and witty dialogue. The books are available for purchase here and are currently marked down 20%! That’s a great deal! Any one, or all three of these books would make a great addition to any architect’s library.

Another architect’s work who I learned about recently is from Glasgow, Scotland. Allistar Burt is one half of Hole in My Pocket. The work that interests me are the whimsical illustrations and sense of graphic designs, which are produced as cards, posters, books, clothing, and other objects as well. Some of my favorites are the Scottish sayings featured against tartan like the one below:

And by chance, I had encountered a chocolate shop while on a holiday getaway in Portland, Maine. The chocolatier is an architect. In fact, his office is above the chocolate shop. If you have the September 2011 Architect magazine, you’ll find an article about Dean Bingham, Career Sampler. I enjoy chocolate but have only appreciated fine chocolates because of him! His truffles and flavor combinations are amazing. It’s more than just chocolate; it’s pure decadence in your mouth! Some of favorite flavors include cayenne, chocolate stout, and scotch.  I don’t think any architect who receives a box of Dean’s Sweets would complain. If anything, they will moan with delight!

And if you would like more ideas, you can also check out the suggestions from 2010 and 2009.

Gifts for the Architect 2010

Well, it’s that time of year again as we approach closer to the holidays, and people are wondering what to give as gifts. I can’t speak for everyone but I can at least help those who need gift ideas to give an architect. I compiled a list of gift ideas last year, Gifts for the Architect, which you are more than welcome to check out. The ideas I listed last year are timeless and you can’t go wrong with.

For 2010, I have compiled a list of *new* and exciting gift ideas that I believe will please almost any architect. It wasn’t an easy task but someone had to do it. I scoured the internet visiting various sites and trolled the streets of NYC looking for great gifts to give that architect friend, spouse, or child. I believe what I have selected will no doubt meet an architect’s professional needs, their desire for knowledge and inspiration, and complement their creative sensibilities. You can’t go wrong with these gifts. As one of the gifts says (and you’ll see this soon enough), “Trust me, I’m an architect.”

The architect’s travel companion

I don’t know any architect who isn’t always carrying something to the job site or a project meeting so why not give them a bag that can take the abuse of daily travels and still look professional?

Victorinox Swiss Army has a collection of travel gear called Architecture 2.0 with over 20 bags to choose from. Of the collection, Louvre 17 would be a thoughtful gift. The specs say it fits a 17″ laptop which is great because it means an architect can also stick a reduced size (11″x17″) set of documents without having to fold a larger set. There are also pockets to fit pens, PDA’s, tape measure, a scale, and other tools.

I admit the black bag (above) is a bit conservative looking; and for many architects this is what they will want to use in a suited work environment. But not all architects are restricted to working in a suit. There are many architects who are professional and dress comfortably. For these architects, I recommend products from White Sycamore, luxury leather goods made in the U.S.A.! The item I want to highlight here is their Architect Plan Carrier, which is an amazing answer to the problem of carrying awkward full-sized rolled up drawings to the job site or project meeting. Full size drawings can range from 24″ to 36″ when rolled up; and the diameter can vary depending on the complexity of the project. This carrier is a great solution to a common awkward problem. For a limited time, get 20% off purchases only at etsy.


The architect’s muse & musings

Architects love glossy picture books! The bigger, the better but who wants to lug a huge heavy book around? Trust me, I received one as a holiday present. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But it was not easy to take home! Instead, I have here some great recommendations for books with lots of pretty glossy pictures that is sure to be a sweet treat to the architect’s eyes!

Phaidon, is an excellent publisher of art, architecture, cook, design, graphic, and photography books. They have a shop in New York City, Soho to be exact. One of my favorite places to visit! They have this gorgeous new book on John Pawson: Plain Space (one of my favorite architects and designers); a must have.

John Pawson monologue

Another great publisher of art, architecture, design, and photography books is teNeues. They also have shop in New York City, also in Soho! They have some fun new books that is sure to inspire architects and designers with new books like these: Art Architecture Design New York and Living in Style Paris.


Architects love architecture magazines. It’s one of the ways architects stay abreast of the latest architectural and building technologies and innovative designs as well as relevant industry news about new and completed projects and competitions. I have 3 different recommendations that architects would greatly appreciate a subscription to.

Architect Magazine is an award-winning popular architectural publication that reports on contemporary architecture and design. This is the perfect gift for architecture students as well as recent grads and architects of all ages. It’s a magazine that will keep the architect current with the latest building technologies and innovative designs. There are 3 subscription options for the magazine. For more information about subscribing to Architect Magazine, click here.

El Croquis, an architectural publication based in Spain. Each issue is usually dedicated to a single architect, usually one that has been awarded the Pritzker Prize (1). These magazines are a great resource and offers the architect and architecture student inspiration. There is a choice between two subscriptions; 5 issues or 10 issues. As a subscriber digital editions of the magazines are also available for download. Another great feature of El Croquis is that you can order back issues especially if you know your architect’s favorite architect. For more information about El Croquis, click here. To subscribe or back order a specific issue, click here (subscriptions differ depending on where it will be delivered).

Another great architecture magazine is Detail: Portal for Architecture, a German based publication that is “…devoted to a specific constructional theme and provides a comprehensive treatment of the subject in the various sections of the journal.” It’s a great resource for architects who are detail oriented. A yearly subscription includes 8 issues plus 2 Detail green issues. For more subscription information, click here.

When the architect is inspired, he or she is gonna need something to scribble or sketch it all down. Instead of giving them just another Moleskin sketchbook, pair it up with the Field Sketchbook by White Sycamore! It’s a lovely leather sketchbook protector with a sleeve to hold the pen or pencil for the architect’s convenience. The Padfolio, also from White Sycamore is a great gift for the architect who is constantly in the field making observations, or sitting in meetings taking down minutes. For a limited time, get 20% off purchases only at etsy.

The architect’s uniform

Giving clothes is always tricky, but I think for the architect it could be simpler than you think especially if that architect insists on wearing black only. How simple is that? Black t-shirt, black button down shirt, black tie, black belt, black sweater vest, etc. Black, black, black, blah! Or, you can always settle on this T-shirt.

However, if your architect is a bit more stylish and fashion forward, how about this amazing cowl top from Desira Pesta! It’s hand-made and hand-printed 100% cotton jersey. Pattern is designed by an architect, Rob Daurio. You can buy this fabulous top here. There’s also a scarf that is the same pattern, which you can buy here.


The archiTECH

For the architect or student of architecture who owns an iPhone (at least with the latest iOS4), or an iPod Touch, or an iPad you may consider gifting an app or an audiobook or visual programs. Here are some great ideas that any architect would appreciate!

Do you know an architect who is going for their license? There’s an app for that! Kaplan Architecture Registration Exam. This app is available both on the iPhone and iPad.

Maybe that architect you know is just way too busy to sit down and read a book, or is always behind a computer drafting away. Perhaps an audiobook is the answer to help them get some intellectual and mental stimulation. Here are some titles for the architect who appreciates critical analysis and thinking about architecture.
The Architecture of Happiness by Alain De Botton.
Why Architecture Matters by Paul Goldberger.

Or perhaps, the architect prefers to be visually stimulated and inspired. You may want to consider some of these documentaries any design conscious architect would appreciate. You can either buy the entire season or select specific episodes. These programs are also available on DVD.
E2 Design, Season 2:  “…is an eighteen part documentary-style television series investigating sustainable living and green design from New York City to rural Mexico. It was narrated by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.”(2)
Big Ideas for a Small Planet: “…s an American documentary series on the Sundance Channel which focuses on environmental innovations such as alternative fuel and green building techniques.”(3)
Rem Koolhaus: A Kind of Architect: “…is an engaging portrait of a visionary man that takes us to the heart of his ideas.”(4)

screen shot from E2 Design

screen shot from E2 Design

The Social architect

Of course, the “Gifts for the Architect 2010” isn’t complete without suggestions of spirits, right? What architect doesn’t enjoy a good drink? There’s nothing like a mixing up an easy gin and tonic with one of my favorite gin, Hendricks. Truth be told, I like the bottle. And if you feel giving just a bottle of gin isn’t enough, you can always pair it up with a couple of nice glass tumblers or martini glasses, or an attractive cocktail shaker.

And you can’t go wrong with gifting a bottle of whisky – how about Ardbeg Supernova?

Here are some additional ideas for the architects who enjoys being social.

  • You may pair a bottle of wine with one of these lovely sommelier corkscrew, the Parrot, from Alessi.
  • Or maybe, the architect prefers to celebrate beer. A case of their favorite beer or a large bottle of handcrafted artisan beer with one of these bottle openers, Diabolix, from Alessi.

The architect’s bonus

Chances will be that architects may not be receiving bonuses at the end of 2010 so why not give them a little something extra to let them know how special they are with any of these gift ideas?

Besides enjoying a good drink at the end of the day, architects love a good morning brew to get them going. Coffee is a favorite morning brew for many architects. The aroma wakes them up and the smooth taste whether served hot or iced with a dash of milk or a sprinkle of sugar jolts them to action! How about a handsome bag of gourmet coffee?

Or how about some fine tea leaves which they can brew up while they’re in the office stressing over a deadline? There’s nothing like a soothing cup of earl grey or mint tea. Tea is aromatic and possesses healing properties. Check out these fine teas from these fine companies.


We all know that architects love to read and look through picture books, and tend to be organized so why not include one of these pageCUES by Gilbert13 with a new glossy picture book? They are available in 3 different themes but the one you’ll want to get for that architect is the set of iconic buildings (yellow).

How about this amusing book “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School” which you may buy at your local bookstore or online bookseller. It’s perfect for the recent graduate or a great reminder for the seasoned professional.

101 things i learned in architecture school

Another great gift addition that architects may enjoy especially if they appreciate fine detail are these kits from Finch & Fouracre. They are architectural model makers and designers based in Glasgow. It comes flat and you carefully fold it to create this adorable tinyment. This thing is about 2.5″ tall!! You can buy this gift here. They also offer bigger cardboard Scottish tenement models for those who do not have nimble fingers.

Or how about these amazing Architectural Model Series from Terada Design Architects? These are incredible! The scale is 1:100! So far, I’ve only seen it sold at MoMA Design store in NYC and they have limited stock online. You can do a search and buy from overseas.

architectural model set in black

architectural model set in black

architectural model set in red


I hope these suggestions are helpful in providing you with some inspiration if not THE answer to your gift shopping quandary. I know it may seem difficult to find the right gift for someone who’s profession lends them to be detailed oriented, a control freak about quality, and highly opinionated but don’t worry. It’s a time for merriment. The gift giving aspect of this merry holiday is a thoughtful gesture and not mandatory. Happy shopping!!

Architects, feel free to leave comments of any gift ideas you may want to share or share what great gifts you’ve received last year.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.

Photography credit:

  • photo of Victorinox Swiss Army bag from website.
  • photos of Architect Plan Carrier, Field Sketchbook, and Padfolio courtesy of White Sycamore.
  • images of books published by  teNeues from website.
  • image of Architect Magazine from website.
  • photos of El Croquis magazines courtesy of Abbozzo.
  • images of Detail: Portal of Architecture magazine from website.
  • photo of “Trust me, I’m an Architect” t-shirt courtesy of Signature T-shirts.
  • photo of grey architectural cowl drape top courtesy of Desira Pesta.
  • screen grab from E2 Design website.
  • photo of Hendrick’s Gin from wikipedia.
  • screen grab from Ardbeg Supernova from website.
  • image of Parrot sommelier corkscrew from Alessi website.
  • image of Earl Grey tea leaves from Bellocq website.
  • image of coffee beans by Courtney Francis from stock.xchng
  • photo of pageCUES courtesy of Gilbert13.
  • photo of Tinyment courtesy of Finch & Fouracre.

The Colbert Report: Emily Pilloton

Here is an interesting interview with designer, Emily Pilloton, where she explains that great design can have positive social impact.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Colbert Report: Emily Pilloton“, posted with vodpod

Design for Life with Philippe Starck

I just finished watching a new reality TV show broadcasted on BBC 2 called Design for Life, which features world renowned designer, Philippe Starck who is seeking new design talent in the UK.  Twelve contestants were personally selected by Philippe along with his wife, Jasmin, and a designer who works for Philippe (whose name I can not spell and can’t seem to find on the internet). Although I do not care much for reality shows in America, I did graviate to this one when I read a tweet from Abitare on Twitter announcing the show featuring Philippe Starck.

The format of Design for Life is like many other competition based reality TV shows. The contestants are put to the test, judged, and eliminated until one person remains and is crowned winner.

What interests me about this show is Mr. Starck’s explanation and discussion of how to approach design with fresh new ideas to solve current and everyday issues.

In the first episode, Mr. Starck assigned the contestants a task to buy two items based on 1 of 3 themes; ecology, function, or gender. Each item must be an example of a good design and a bad design based on the themes as outlined, or an example of a male product vs. a female product (for the gender theme).

Of the 12 contestants, only 1 contestant will win an opportunity of a life time to work with Philippe Starck at his Paris office for 6 months. And already 2 contestants have been booted off. I don’t know if each week will eliminate 2 contestants at a time but it’s worth a watch.

For those of you who do not have access to BBC2,  you can catch the first episode here. Or you can click my Vodpod widget on the sidebar.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Design for Life“, posted with vodpod