Out in the main booth area, I came across a few outstanding companies with which I was unfamiliar. The first is London-based Fromental, which creates custom hand-painted wallpaper using silk, velvet, embroidery and silk-screening ala deGournay, with a slightly less traditional, Upper East Side-y feel and more options for customization. As you may imagine, the papers are not cheap, but, they are AMAZING, and I most certainly consider them works of art.
Photo courtesy Fromental, from the Chinoiserie collection
Images from the booth at the show. Even the sub-par quality of my photos can't diminish the beauty of the wallpaper, styled expertly with deliciously buttery George Smith furniture.
Fromental is represented by and can be purchased via the George Smith showroom in New York, at 232 East 59th Street.
Another UK-based favorite from the show was Forbes & Lomax, creator of the Invisible Lightswitch, a transparent acrylic plate that does not rudely interrupt lovely wall treatments with a brash and out-of-place industrial switches.
Photo courtesy Forbes & Lomax
Architects and interior designers struggle tirelessly to strike a balance between our vision for a space and the requirements, be it building codes (exit signs in commercial buildings) or everyday necessities, like switch plates and outlet covers that more often than not mar the look of the final product. I tend to (not so) secretly photoshop them out of project photos.
Forbes & Lomax's sleek designs are a throwback to glass switches of the early 1930s with a modern twist. The mostly screw-less acrylic plates allow wallpaper or paint to show through, accented by a subtle, unobtrusive metal toggle switch, rotary dimmer, push button, or outlet in the center. Ingenious!
Via Forbes & Lomax
There are a handful of decent-looking options on the market these days:
Via House of Antique Hardware
And DIY-ers are getting creative about camouflaging their switches with paint or fabric:
Images courtesy OhDeeDoh
But, for the high-end market, I think Forbes & Lomax really hit the nail on the head. They also manufacture a comprehensive collection of outlets covers and switchplates in several metal finishes and painted options. The website even has a great interactive tool to help prospective buyers put together the look they want.
My favorite booth in what I call the "designer ghetto," where they seem to put all the young, small designers and artists, was Roll & Hill, a lighting company that debuted at the show.
Photo courtesy Apartment Therapy
Roll & Hill reps some of today's best up-and-comers in the lighting world and the unique display set them apart from many of the other exhibitors, with light fixtures hanging high overhead and low in black boxes offset by jewel-tone paint colors. I'm not the only one to feel this way; Apartment Therapy agrees and gave them a shout-out, as well, which is BIG. I look forward to seeing more from this young company. The branding alone makes me hopeful that they will thrive in this crap-o-la economy.
The issue of branding brings me to the aforementioned beef with my alma mater, Pratt Institute. The Pratt Exhibition Design Intensive students nabbed a primo spot on the main floor among all kinds of fantabulous vendors but really dissed the importance of the show with a sad and completely embarrassing booth. I was directed there by a friend who works at From the Source (which showcased a well-styled booth with great new products) and who happened to participate in the Exhibition Design Intensive while at Pratt. She warned me it would be bad, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw. Are you ready?
What the hell is THAT?!?! I didn't even bother wasting my time with color corrections. The crappy sign crappily taped up with visible masking tape, the unexplained models strewn about, the wrinkled work on the walls, the unused tv screen, all in an unattended booth....?? I don't know what was being showcased and I don't know how this happened, since every one knows design is all about selling your work with a cohesive presentation. The fact that this is the booth of the Exhibition Design class makes it even worse. Why am I exposing this? Because it makes me mad! Pratt is chock-full of outstandingly talented, creative, resourceful people who pay good money to go there. While in school, we are cut down, battered, and bruised, then told to get up, brush ourselves off and hit the real world of design running. We do, and because of all the butt-kicking, we actually emerge as pretty damn good designers. So, when some of us are given an opportunity to participate in such a visible event that could bring in more funding, job offers for students or simply give the school and students some much-needed exposure, how can they take it so lightly and drop the ball so heavily? Very disappointing, Pratt!
Ok, I've calmed down. This concludes my highlights of the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. Stay tuned for some exciting new work from Frisson!