FAIR CHAIRS: With furniture launches, store parties and a four-day trade show that closed on Tuesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Manhattan’s interest in designer chairs and tables went into overdrive this week at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Among the highlights, Fabien Baron, the creative director and founder of Baron & Baron, unveiled a collection of his own for Bernhardt Design featuring modular occasion tables and lounge chairs with accents of primary colors that, when assembled in certain ways, appear to be the furnishing equivalent of a Mondrian painting.
This story first appeared in the May 23, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I was interested in simple lines, basic structures and elegance,” Baron said. “Design is all tied up today in everything, more than ever. In the worlds of communication, architecture, fashion design and furniture, design is very much one thing. Everything is attached to image.”
Although the fair traditionally heralds designs that will be available to customers next year, the SoHo interiors store Troy threw a party to kickoff the event with a glance toward the past. Owner Troy Halterman hosted a celebration of “Room 606,” a monograph on Copenhagen’s legendary SAS House designed by Arne Jacobsen.
Halterman started Troy eight years ago to sell vintage mid-century modern pieces like Jacobsen’s, but stopped after nostalgia drove the market through the roof. “It got tapped out, and was no longer fun and flea-markety and find-driven,” said Halterman, whose store now carries new designs instead of vintage piece by Jacobsen’s former partner Fritz Hansen.
“It’s impossible not to look at the photos of [SAS House] and the men in suits and ties and not look back to a lost age,” said “Room 606” author Michael Sheridan. “But the themes Jacobsen used in his work — the collision between Danish craft and modern technology — are still very much with us today.”
STRIP JOINT: Sometimes people stumble upon a building, fall in love with it and decide to buy it. British designer Paul Smith discovered his new London headquarters and fell in love six months after he bought it.
At the turn of the 20th century, the building at 20 Kean Street in London’s Covent Garden was a fruit and vegetable market, and over the years was transformed into corporate offices. By the time Smith came upon the 35,000-square-foot space, the soaring ceilings were lowered, the red brick walls were covered in plaster and the wooden floorboards were caked with years of tar, resin and industrial carpeting.
“It was almost impossible to see the character of the building,” Smith said. “So we started stripping the floors, peeling the blue Formica off the metal girders and pulling out the fake ceilings. About five layers later we found the original building.”
The new headquarters, which houses showrooms, commercial and press offices — and a new penthouse space for the boss —replaces Smith’s hodgepodge of real estate dotted around Covent Garden. Smith has vowed, however, not to abandon his overcrowded, memento-crammed attic office on Floral Street.
“I thought about roping it off and keeping it for posterity,” he said of the space that’s like Charles Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop. “But that’s unlikely. I’ll hop back there now and again.”