By  on May 25, 2007

The International Contem­porary Furniture Fair this week featured innovative pieces for everyday living. And the event got some extra pizzazz from what amounted to a weeklong citywide celebration for the design-minded.

Designers, architects and gallery and store owners mingled at parties, openings, exhibitions, book signings and product launches that were timed around the four-day event that ended Tuesday. Whether they showed off their own creations at New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center or even walked by the 641 exhibitors was incidental. For many, all the buzz was reason enough to celebrate.

Retail design guru Murray Moss received a record 3,700 RSVPs for this past Saturday's cocktail party at his SoHo design emporium. "We ran out of wine, which is a good sign,'' he said.

"Something is happening — part of it is New York and what's going on in the city,'' said Moss, who will open his first store in Los Angeles next month. "But other people are paying attention to the subject of design. There are galleries opening, the art audience is paying attention to function design, there are all these big auctions going on and the media is writing about design. People outside of our world believe in the significance it has on its own."

Architect Peter Marino also got a jump on the festivities, hosting a preview of his new furniture collection at Poltrona Frau in SoHo last Friday. Marino estimated he has produced 1,000 pieces of furniture for private clients. Designing the residential tower at 170 East End Avenue spurred him to do the collection.

The next night, the revelers who attended Moss' party were among the first to check out Studio Job's latest project, a limited edition series of designs called Homework. Li Edelkoort, a renowned trend forecaster, was among the many who braved the rain to make the trip downtown after flying in from Eindhoven, Holland, where she oversees the Design Academy.

Nine of the school's alumni, including Hella Jongerius and Wieki Somers, contributed to Dutch Design Port, an exhibition at the Milk Gallery. The city of Rotterdam helped sponsor the exhibition, true to its reputation as a hotbed for design talent. A few blocks south, Karim Rashid redesigned the furniture in the Hotel Gansevoort's lobby for a party in his honor Sunday night. His new Poly chairs for Italian manufacturer Bonaldo — colorful polycarbonate stackable seats — were displayed at the ICFF."Design is the new democratized art,'' Rashid said. "Design is a way for everyone to have a sense of cultural aesthetic at a reasonable price point. Design is a way to fulfill a lot of pleasures in lots of different places. It can provide comfort and inspiration. Design is about making a new contemporary world."

Ivalo Lighting's Opale, a fixture designed by Contemporary Architecture Practice's Ali Rahim and Hina Jamelle, won Rashid's praise. He also liked Philippe Starck's chair for Kartell, but an assistant gave him the thumbs-down for comfort.

In his Meatpacking District store, fashion designer Yigal Azrouël showcased eight innovative products by Dror Benshetrit, including a Boffi-made rotating bathroom cabinet and a foldable chair that doubles as a wall-hanging. The latter was five years in the making, Benshetrit said.

There were equally unusual pieces at the ICFF, including outdoor solar lighting by Emi Fujita and Shane Kohatsu. In order to attend, the pair had to take time off from their day jobs — she works at Ideo design studio in San Francisco and he is a designer at Nike's Portland, Ore., headquarters. They met when Fujita was Kohatsu's intern at Nike, started collaborating on weekends via teleconferencing and now expect to team up with a manufacturer.

DuPont's exhibit at the show featured Light Showers by architects Yoshiko Sato and Michael Morris. Visitors plopped themselves down on DuPont's Corian egg-shaped stools while a shadow that looked like a wave swept over them and tiny blue pulsating lights surrounded their seats. Swarovski tried to lighten things up by recruiting Rhode Island School of Design students to create crystal-covered one-offs like Annemarie Johnson's kitschy lawn chair.

Thanks to the Canadian company Rollout's customized wallpaper, do-it-yourself fans can put their artistry to the test. As of June 2, others can go to The Art Directors' Club to see the inner workings of real artists at "Detour, the Moleskine City Notebook Experience." Vincent van Gogh and Ernest Heming­way were known to carry one of the Moleskine notebooks, so 70 architects, artists, designers, illustrators and writers, including Scott Wilson, Renzo Piano, Terence Conran, Michael Graves, Spike Jonze and Maira Kalman, put pen to paper.

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