Brooklyn is home to a number of celebrated furniture and lighting designers, but you have to be a serious design junkie to seek out their work. It’s easier to admire a Pelle bubble chandelier in Mike D’s brownstone, recently featured in The New York Times Style section, than it is to make an appointment at the designer’s Red Hook showroom. But for the next two weekends, Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27, the public can see more than 40 local furniture and home goods designers at Factory Floor. Housed within Industry City in Sunset Park, an entire floor of warehouse space will be dedicated to vendors presented in collaboration with BKLYN Designs, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Design Within Reach, with free classes for children led by Construction Kids and food trucks to keep shoppers satiated.
For designers, the chance to exhibit in the fall is an especially appealing opportunity. “An event promoting local designers and makers is obviously great, but the placement on the calendar is even better,” said Mat Driscoll of Bellboy, which will be showing their Cirque Mirrors, Academy Chair, Harrison Cabinet, and possibly a new coffee table. “New York’s Design Week has a number of really great events, but it only happens once a year, in the spring…for modest companies without a PR team, it’s not enough.”
April Hannah, who will be introducing her Lotus Coffee Table in Statuary Marble, created with ABC Stone of Brooklyn, alongside her modern, nature-inspired Tree Table collection of desks for children and adults, also appreciates the layout of Factory Floor. “I haven’t actually seen the Industry City space, but the renderings look amazing with walls of so many windows,” she said by email. “This may be a small thing to many people, but this is different from most shows. I am really looking forward to being in a design show with so much natural light.”
Industry City plans to host other maker’s markets like these at Factory Floor. A fashion event is already on the calendar for the ground floor, 22,000-square-foot showroom during the weekends of Nov. 23-24 and Dec. 3-4, curated by Made in NYC, an initiative of the Pratt Center for Community Development with support from Manufacture New York and others.
Making custom, artisan work accessible to the public is half the point of these pop-up markets; the other intention is to attract new tenants to Industry City. Andrew Kimball, the former CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, now heads the 16-building, six-million-square-foot complex, which dates back to the early 1900s, and he says the space is primed for New York’s modern manufacturing moment.
“The days of the smokestack factory are gone. But what has emerged is a very powerful creative makers movement. You can see it in places like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has a waiting list of over 100 businesses trying to get in. You see it in the private sector at Pfizer with makers of a different kind, focused on food. Industry City, we think, can be the next great destination for those communities,” said Kimball.
Another sector of makers, the arts community, has also found support at Industry City, and on Sunday, the two will converge as Factory Floor’s inaugural furniture market coincides with the opening of The Brooklyn Rail’s “Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1.“ The group show of more than 300 artists, on view through Dec. 15, is a celebration of the city’s resilient arts community, and the role Industry City played in restoring art damaged by the storm. The complex donated 18,000 square feet of space for volunteer conservators to use as they recovered hundreds of works of art.
“Overall our goal is to become a unique hub for the innovation economy,” said Kimball. It seems to be working.
Factory Floor is open 10am to 6pm Saturdays and Sundays the weekends of Oct. 19 and 20 and Oct. 26 and 27.