NYCxDesign 2018: A guide to this month’s best design events

May 3, 2018

Photo courtesy of Industry City

Photo courtesy of Industry City

New Yorkers love good design. They also love good festivals. And who doesn’t love a custom cocktail? Put those three together and you’ve got NYCxDESIGN. With over 400 different exhibitions, installations, trade shows, panels, product launches, open studios, and more, NYCxDESIGN runs from May 11–23 across the city’s five boroughs and is the biggest design event of the year. And to top it off, restaurants throughout the city are designing custom NYCxDESIGN cocktails, the perfect end to a perfect day. To help you navigate the scene, 6sqft has put together a guide to all the events you don’t want to miss.

In its sixth year and spearheaded by Edward Hogikyan, Chief Marketing Officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), NYCxDESIGN was inspired by previous Speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, who wanted to create an event that promoted and spotlighted the design sector in New York City. The city is home to almost 8,000 design establishments and 52,500 practicing designers, which makes it one of the largest design hubs in the country and the world. New York City also has 10 of the most prominent design and architecture schools in the country and graduates twice as many design and architecture students than any other city in the United States. Last year, over 347,000 people attended the events throughout the city. Hogikyan foresees that number will just keep growing.

Hogikyan and his team are very enthusiastic and excited about the growth of design week; he sums it up with one word: collaboration. “The most satisfying aspect of what we’ve done is that we’ve grown into a family. The New York City design community is a wonderful, passionate and growing community. People typically work in their own vertical worlds but this is about bringing people together, creating partnerships and relationships. It’s amazing to watch the entire design community galvanize behind something.”

Hogikyan goes on to explain that design is all-encompassing. “People don’t realize that design affects them from the minute they wake up to go to sleep: their clock, their door handle, their toothbrush, the list just goes on. Because design represents so many different things, we wanted to make sure we imposed as broad a swath as possible. Our exhibit and events include public space design, graphic design, digital design, costume design and so much more.”

A special part of the week is the design graduate student events. “The timing of our design week typically happens around when the schools have their graduate shows. People can go see the best of graduating class across different design categories. This is the next generation of designers and we want to make sure they get exposure.” With the ever-escalating popularity and prices of the art market, these events are ideal to get in early on undiscovered artists.

Design week is very exciting but with so many events, it can also be overwhelming to try to wade through all of the offerings. In addition to the event website, where you can search every event by parameters like location and/or category, Metropolis Magazine also issues a hard copy guidebook with recommendations on how to find events. “Venue Report” also breaks down festival and recommends not only events but good places to eat, stay and visit.

Despite the fact that Hogikyan swears he visits each and every event in the two-week run, that’s probably not possible for us mere mortals. So we have highlighted a few of the hundreds below:

The major events

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street
May 20-23

ICFF 2017, courtesy of ICFF

On May 21st, the ICFF Opening Party follows the NYCxDESIGN design award ceremony. Awards are giving for outstanding products and projects in all the major design categories, from architecture to interiors, from products to accessories, from craft to technology.” The ICFF’s Gala party features an open bar, passed hors-d’oeuvres, and live entertainment.

The four-day 30th annual ICFF NYC highlights the “what’s best and what’s next” in design. 36,000 interior designers, architects, retailers, representatives, distributors, facility managers, developers, manufacturers, store designers, and visual merchandisers are expected to attend. On Wednesday, May 23th, the ICFF opens its doors to the general public with many exhibits and events.

In partnership with ICFF, Collective Design provides a cutting-edge platform for a curated group of independent designers to share new and revolutionary products and technology.

Design Pavilion
May 12-20, 11am-9pm
Times Square, Broadway and Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets

Check out the Times Square 2000 foot-long, 25 foot-high inflatable “Design Pavilion” installation designed by Harry Allen with INFLATE’s Nick Crosbie. The pavilion will also have a light installation from L’Observatoire International and will be featuring interactive installations and talks, themed “From This Day Forward.”

Brooklyn (274 36th Street): May 17-21
Manhattan (Terminal Stores, 269 11th Avenue): May 19-22

Top: Julie Richoz and the Couleur exhibition; Bottom: Camille Walala’s mural. Courtesy of Industry City.

Founded by Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, WantedDesign is a series of international design events in two locations, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. WantedDesign aims to provide a platform dedicated to promoting design and fostering the international creative community at large throughout the year. Some highlights include: A mural by artist Camille Walala wrapping one of the façades of Industry City (and the tallest building she’s painted yet); Couleur, an exhibition curated by Claire Pijoulat and Odile Hainaut showcasing the work of three French designers, Pernelle Poyet, Ionna Vautrin and Julie Richoz; Conscious Design, an exhibit highlighting initiatives for a more sustainable world, and examples of best practices – a workshop gathering; Brooklyn Glass and CIAV Meisenthal to create a new series of the Douglas vessels with designer François Azambourg; Industry City open studios for two days and a focus on Industry City makers and designers that will showcase a selection of pieces made in Brooklyn.

May 19-23, 8am- 6pm
Usagi Gallery, 163 Plymouth Street, Brooklyn

DESIGN PIER brings together unique design (from furniture to sculptures) and designers from around the world. The exhibit is an exploration of places, stories and cultures, from Asia, Middle East, South and North America, behind every design object. Uncovering the historical, cultural and social context of the exhibits makes us see them beyond their aesthetics.

AIANY Architectural Boat Tours
62 Chelsea Piers

Photo courtesy of AIANY

Being on the water is a rare but amazing opportunity (although you should definitely opt for the NYC Ferry whenever possible). The AIANY’s five different boat tours are terrific ways to learn more about the city’s history, landmarks, urban planning and environmental issues affecting our island. Tours depart from 62 Chelsea Piers and enrich your Manhattan experience.

Experience the Moooi at NoMad Design Night
May 18, 6pm-9pm
Moooi New York Showroom & Brand Store at 36 East 31st Street

The Moooi New York Showroom, courtesy of Moooi

Calling all lovers of Scandinavian design. “Mooi” is Dutch for beautiful. Moooi, “the extra O is intended to convey extra value in terms of beauty and uniqueness,” is home to many nationally and internationally recognized designers. Enjoy their 2018 Novelties & New Releases and “experience A Life Extraordinary!”

FAD Market
May 19 and 20, 11am – 6pm
Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont Street

Photo of FAD Market at the Invisible Dog Art Center last summer, courtesy of FAD Market

FAD Market is a seasonal roving fashion, art and design marketplace that travels to different venues in Brooklyn. With 45 curated designers featuring locally designed handcrafted good, from tableware and textiles to fashion and accessories, go discover the best up-and-coming designers from the city and beyond.

Red Hook Design Events
May 19 and 20

Pioneer WorksVia Pioneer Works

Red Hook visitors will be invited to a neighborhood walk, open studios, and an exhibition. Studios will feature makers of large and small furniture, glass, textile, and ceramic, both bespoke and retail. The neighborhood walk will include retail and restaurant events. Supersmith, a talent-infused shared neighborhood workspace with a retail shop for local and non-local designs, will be participating along with Pioneer Works, an admission-free cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education, and production across disciplines, will feature local Red Hook design work.

School Events

Photos of Parsons Festival 2017, courtesy of Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design: The Parsons Festival is an annual series of art and design events taking place at the end of the academic year, in which cutting-edge student work is presented to the Parsons community and the public.

Pratt Institute: Pratt Shows is a series of curated year-end shows that offers the public an exciting opportunity to experience the work of Pratt Institute’s graduating class featuring work from the Schools of Design, Architecture, and Art. The work includes fine art installations, film screenings, readings, and trade shows illustrating Pratt’s collaborative, interdisciplinary approach.

School of Visual Arts: SVA’s “Radical Times,” showcases graduate students pursuing an MFA in Product Design who will explore speculative pasts and futures to produce seventeen product proposals for the present day—each a 3-dimensional manifestation of their year-long thesis, and each attempting to reconcile their points of view with their imagined, preferred states.

Fashion Institute of Technology: FIT is hosting the Graduating Student Exhibition which will feature juried, award-winning, and thesis projects from 17 majors including Accessories and Communication Design, Computer Animation and Interactive Media, Fashion, Graphic, Interior, Jewelry, Packaging and Toy Design.

The Cooper Union: Opening May 22, the annual Cooper Union End of Year Show transforms the classrooms and studios of The Cooper Union into galleries showcasing work from the Architecture, Art, and Engineering Schools.

Design District Events

A party at the South Street Seaport last year, courtesy of NYCxDESIGN

Neighborhoods like Soho, Tribeca, and Nomad will each have nights where the neighborhood showrooms and galleries stay open late with cocktail parties and other fun events welcoming people in to celebrate their design. These are vibrant nights filled with energy with people on the streets. Check out one or all.


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