04/26/16 10:30am
A 2014 prototype of Citizen Bridge. Its design has evolved dramatically since then. Photo: Nancy Nowacek

A 2014 prototype of Citizen Bridge. Its design has evolved dramatically since then. Photo: Nancy Nowacek

Two years ago we told you about an artist’s plans to bridge the distance between Red Hook and Governors Island—a mere 1,400 feet—with a floating bridge that would allow pedestrians to walk across Buttermilk Channel for just one day. We won’t be slipping on our boat shoes just yet to make the crossing, but Nancy Nowacek’s crazy, beautiful scheme is a lot closer to happening. It’s just going to take a little more engineering, and some backers for her Kickstarter that just launched last week. (more…)

03/22/16 9:32am

Have you had that dream? You know, the one where you discover another entire room you had never noticed before in your apartment? It’s a weird, but true, NYC rite of passage, even for those of us who are lucky enough to love our apartments. Sadly, those are just dreams, but it is possible to eke out a little more functionality from your apartment with space-saving furniture. These five pieces (we also found some drool worthy options last year at NYCxDesign Week, if you want more options) will give you extra square footage to stretch out in, with style. They might be pricey, but think of them as investments in the New York dream.


 

Photo: Restoration Hardware

This home office can fold away when company comes. Photo: Restoration Hardware

Foldaway office Open offices are all the rage nowadays, but at home it’s much nicer to have a separate space so that work doesn’t intrude on the rest of your life. If you don’t have the space for an office, let me introduce the Mayfair Steamer Trunk Secretary by Restoration Hardware ($3995). This oversized trunk, crafted by Timothy Oulton, an antiques dealer and furniture maker in London, is beautifully configured with shelving and a fold-down desk. Working on something top secret? No one will ever suspect what’s in there when it’s all locked up. Otherwise, just closing down for the day will give you a true feeling of being able to leave the office. Out of sight, out of mind. Now let the happy hour begin!


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06/23/15 10:26am
Inside Craftsman Ave., where intimate workshops on everything from letter making to woodworking  will begin in July. Photo: Craftsman Ave.,

Inside Craftsman Ave., where intimate workshops on everything from letter making to woodworking will begin in July. Photo: Craftsman Ave.

Just steps from Lowe’s, and right next door to the Global Cooling Inc. HVAC shop on an industrial stretch of 11th St., a new school called Craftsman Ave. blends right in with Gowanus’s repair shops and fabrication studios. The only clues that it caters to a different clientele is the minimal, black and gold sign outside and the fact that it’s actively seeking unskilled laborers.

“There’s no place where you can learn everything from letter making to product design—basically every kind of skill you need to bring a physical product to life,” said Taras Kravtchouk, the founder of this DIY school. The digital and industrial designer discovered a love of physical work when he began restoring vintage motorcycles—two of which are on display inside his shop. He plans to teach this skill, and is inviting other artists and designers to teach similar, three-hour-long workshops on trades like woodworking and jewelry making. Those who are more serious about perfecting a craft can become members and use the professional woodworking, prototyping and welding tools to hone their skills. Ideally, with the right mix of instructors and members, everyone will learn from one another. (more…)

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06/04/15 11:34am
Image via Facebook

Labradoodles, always and forever. Photo: The Metagame

Disclosure: I’ve never won Apples to Apples. And I don’t really love Cards Against Humanity, either. It’s a game that once included the charming card “Passable Transvestites,” and gives sometimes-terrible people the delusion that they’re funny. I remember once losing a game to an annoying guy whose personality could be best described as “Office Max File Cabinet.” “Neneer-neneer-neneer,” he gloated to me afterwards, a grown man of 35. All this is to say: I was terrified of playing The Metagame, a game whose structure is fundamentally similar to ‘Cards,’ and then overjoyed to find its brain and its bones, fundamentally better.

The Metagame, which was released on Amazon and for free download about a month ago, was designed by Colleen Macklin, John Sharp, and Eric Zimmerman, founders of a Brooklyn-based game collective called Local No. 12. The prominent game designers describe their creation, which came to life after two Kickstarter campaigns, as a “social card game about art, design, entertainment and culture.” Because talking about rules for games has always been boring, I’ll keep my explanation short. Metagame gives you two sets of cards: opinion cards and culture cards. Opinion cards range take the form of big questions—“Which gets more action?”—to bizarre fill-in-the-blanks: “If this were an animal, it would be a ____.” Similar to Apples, the game is opinion-based. Though there are a dozen different ways to play The Metagame (more on that later), each version is similar: pick the culture card that best matches the opinion card, and let your dumb friends be the judge. (more…)

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06/04/15 9:30am
Finding contemporary design for small spaces was easy during NYCxDesign week.

Finding contemporary design for small spaces was easy during NYCxDesign week, like on these yummy cupcakes at the Fitz Hansen party. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

NYCxDesign Week is a must for anyone obsessed with furniture and design. With parties, design fairs, and open showrooms, it is a chance for NYC to celebrate all disciplines of design spanning throughout Manhattan and and Brooklyn, and the iconic designers who live here. It would be impossible for one person to hit all of the events, but I gave it a go with attendance at design fairs like Wanted NYC (in Manhattan and Brooklyn), Sight Unseen, Design Junction and the high-end furniture behemoth, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).

As I raced past all of the gorgeous furniture, I absorbed all the new microtrends of interior design. We can expect to see Brooklyn restaurants decked out in plum furniture, shiny brass hardware and bent wood tables by next year. Additionally, I saw incredible wallpaper, jewelry for the home, and an entire wall made out of a garden that never needs to be watered. Seeing such craftsmanship and design is inspiring, but the trend I was really drawn to were all the ingenious new space-saving ideas in children’s furniture. No matter how luxuriously your apartment is decorated, having kids in this city means always coveting more space. (more…)

05/08/15 2:37pm

bklyndesigns

The crowd at last year’s BKLYN DESIGNS. It returns this weekend in a new location, Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Expo Center. Image: BKLYN DESIGNS

When the first Brooklyn Designs debuted in 2003, the fair featured about 40 furnishings designers and manufacturers in Dumbo. It was the beginning of the borough’s maker movement, Brooklyn homes were still cheaper than Manhattan’s, and an international furniture retailer in Red Hook was just an idea at the time.

Over the years, the expo has provided a launch pad for designers whose works have gone on to become trendsetting pieces of home decor, like Uhuru Design, whose first line of furniture debuted at the fair in 2006, or Eskayel wallpaper, which debuted at Brooklyn Designs in 2008 (both are now featured in Brooklyn Museum’s decorative arts collection). Brooklyn has also become even more of a contemporary furniture depot–along with Ikea’s Red Hook store, West Elm is headquartered in Dumbo, and Design Within Reach opens its first NYC outlet in Industry City tomorrow.

Today the fair—whose moniker has been abbreviated to BKLYN DESIGNS—returns in a new location, Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Expo Center, with nearly 70 retailers and makers throughout the weekend. The event kicks off a larger week of citywide design fairs and programming called NYCxDESIGN, which builds upon the focus of furniture design to include fields like fashion, graphic and urban design. There are lots of events planned including talks at BKLYN DESIGNS, home tours, and shuttle buses between the fair, the Brooklyn Museum and WantedDesign in Industry City, where there are two weekends’ worth of festivities planned.

In advance of the expo, we asked some of the borough’s brightest figures in design to nominate the most iconic objects made by Brooklyn designers over the past decade. Here are the picks from Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, Jon Sherman of Flavor Paper, and more.

(more…)

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12/23/14 8:20am

Trends are driven by outside forces, normally the fast fashion industry, whose survival depends on it. Style is a matter of your taste. If you stick with style and what you feel looks great on you, you’ll always make the right decision. 
–Maxine Bédat and Soraya Darabi, Zady

This quote, from the founders of Zady, an online shop dedicated to sustainably made clothing, housewares and accessories, pretty much sums up the current movement away from mass market fast fashion. Here are four local companies whose mission goes beyond just selling you clothes–yes, they cost more than the J. Crew sale rack, or H&M, but you’ll be casting a vote for small businesses and fair labor practices with your closet, and you’ll be much less likely to spot someone wearing the same outfit on your way to work in the morning.

The Herringbone shirt from .Bk. Photo: .Bk

The Hemingway Herringbone shirt is still available from .Bk. Photo: .Bk

Designer: .Bk is at its core an anti-mass market company. Each week they release a new limited edition, 100-shirt run of men’s button-ups at the very reasonable price of $68. .Bk designs and sews their shirts locally, hand-numbering each garment. For each collection they launch they create a pop-up shop in Brooklyn, but in order to keep costs down they’re a mostly online business. Their next collection is due out soon, and titled “Old Souls.”

Where to start: The Hemingway Herringbone, for a bit more texture than a chambray button-up. Read Dossier, an email digest of stories they publish weekly, with each new collection of shirts they produce, for more inspiration. (more…)

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12/04/14 9:18am

Earlier this year we partnered with UncommonGoods to launch the Brooklyn Flag Project. We challenged design-minded folks from all over the borough to create a flag reflecting their neighborhood, with the promise that the top three would be produced for sale by UncommonGoods. Along with former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Tina Roth Eisenberg–the graphic designer known as @SwissMiss, and UncommonGoods founder David Bolotsky, we helped winnow down a fantastic field of entries to eight finalists.

UncommonGoods awarded cash prizes to the top three winners, but decided not to produce the flags for sale after all–they told us that they had hoped to see flags from a wider variety of neighborhoods, though we thought the entries from East New York, Bay Ridge, Flatbush, Coney Island and Ditmas Park nicely rounded out the multiple flags designed for Greenpoint and Fort Greene–locales that lots of graphic designers call home. Even if you can’t buy one of these to hang from your fire escape, we think it’s worth taking a peek at the winners. And, as a bonus, we’ve added in our favorite entry that didn’t win (we’re suckers for a squirrel).

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11/14/14 8:54am
This storage bench, upholstered with reclaimed coffee sacks, is one of Recycled Brooklyn's signature designs. Photo: Levi Sharpe

This storage bench, upholstered with reclaimed coffee sacks, is one of Recycled Brooklyn’s signature designs. Photo: Levi Sharpe

When you start a woodshop in your kitchen, you have to make some sacrifices, starting with dinner.

“We were making dinner and building tables at the same time,” said Matt Loftice, 44, a thick-bearded former screenwriter. “It was a lot of dust, man—dusty pasta.”

Brothers Matt and Steven Loftice share a love for breathing new life into recycled materials by transforming them into furniture. After building pieces on nights and weekends for several years as a hobby, Matt gave the business a name, Recycled Brooklyn, and launched an Etsy shop in 2010. Steven, disenchanted with his career in advertising, quit his job and hopped on board full time, two months later.

Though their price point is slightly higher than entry-level Ikea–items start at around $180–it’s not far off mass market staples like West Elm and Pottery Barn, and their pieces are handcrafted. “I could never afford custom furniture, and most people can’t,” said Steven, 42. “That’s why at 10 o’clock in the morning the line at Ikea is half a mile long.” (more…)

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10/27/14 1:30pm
Bar Prima on the Upper East Side, a recently completed renovation by Greenpoint-based design firm, STUDIOSC. Photo: STUDIOSC

Bar Prima on the Upper East Side, a recently completed renovation by Greenpoint-based design firm, STUDIOSC. Photo: STUDIOSC

Before the Greenpoint-based architecture firm STUDIOSC relocated to its own office recently, the team was based at The Yard, the co-working space that Brooklyn Based uses as its home base. The design firm, which includes architect Stephen Conte, interior designer Carolina Escobar and architect Irene Blazquez, have what Conte calls a shared belief in the “contextual philosophy of design,” preferring to work with existing materials as much as possible. Here he describes his favorite buildings in Brooklyn, and the delicate balance of building new residences in rapidly changing neighborhoods. (more…)