NYCxDESIGN 2023: What to see and do at New York City’s annual celebration of design

May 8, 2023

Photo: © 6sqft

NYCxDESIGN: The Festival, New York City’s official celebration of design, returns to the city from May 18 to May 25. This major international design event, now in its 11th year, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to celebrate globally renowned creative accomplishments, discover new ideas, and inspire through design. Anchored by several major industry fairs, including ICFF and WantedDesign, the festival is packed with independent shows, open studios, and exhibitions that inspire audiences and showcase new talent. The annual festival promises to be an opportunity to discover the newest and most exciting contributions in furniture, lighting, textiles, and accessories–many of which you’ll be seeing in magazines, blogs, and showrooms for years to come–and an opportunity to get ideas for your own living space. Read on for a few highlights.

Photo courtesy of NYCXDesign

New York City is home to the nation’s largest concentration of designers, creatives, and design studios, as well as 10 of the nation’s best design and architecture schools. NYCxDESIGN is a not-for-profit organization committed to empowering and promoting the city’s diverse creative community. Two major trade shows, ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) and Wanted Design Manhattan, anchor the festival, joined this year by LightFair and DIFFA by Design.

In addition to launches and showcases, there are parties and receptions in every neighborhood, with design shops and studios offering cocktails and snacks for visitors; design theory, urbanism, and big-picture issues like the environment and inequality inform thought-provoking panel discussions and workshops. The festival website offers a comprehensive schedule for complete details.

Photo courtesy of NYCXDesign

The big events
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 429 11th Avenue
May 21-23
The annual three-day modern and contemporary furniture design fair brings international design to Manhattan’s west side. ICFF 2023–along with the co-located WantedDesign Manhattan–is an introduction to what’s best and what’s next in original and sustainable design in the form of over 400 established and emerging design brands from more than 25 countries.

WantedDesign Manhattan is once again joining forces with ICFF. Founded by Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, WantedDesign is a curated showcase and platform where commerce meets the culture of design. Returning this year will be the annual Launch Pad program that introduces new products and fresh talent.

This year’s fair highlights include the ICFF Editors Awards, ICFF and WantedDesign Manhattan Talks, The Oasis, The Restaurant, WDM Cafe, The Crossroads, and a new collection of international pavilions.

Pratt exhibition 2022. Photo courtesy of NYCXDESIGN

Collectives, collabs, exhibitions, and showcases
Student exhibitions introduce the work of this year’s graduates at some of the world’s leading design schools (which just happen to be right here in New York City): FIT and Pratt, among others, have student exhibitions during this year’s festival, and there’s a Student Showcase Night event.

MUJI IS invites guests to take “a walk in the forest of verbs, ” inspired by the brand’s book by the same name. Expect a journey through a forest-like experiential installation based on MUJI’s design ethos and product archives.

FAD Market. Photo courtesy of NYCxDESIGN

FAD Market’s NYCxDESIGN pop-up heads back to the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, with over 50 cutting-edge designers and makers offering home furnishings, tableware, apparel, jewelry, and more.

The Backyard Show showcases work from more than 20 independent designers and artists in a laid-back backyard party setting in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This multi-generational exhibition features work from Los Angeles, Taipei, Tokyo, Vancouver, and New York.

The “Give Me a Sign: The Language of Symbols” exhibition currently on view at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum shows how symbol design reflects a fascinatingly dynamic and collaborative effort by individuals and communities to create, adopt, and redesign symbols over time. The exhibition will feature never-before-seen material from Cooper Hewitt’s Henry Dreyfuss Archive, and visitors will be invited to participate in the co-creation of a Symbol Sourcebook of 2024.

Herman Miller Vintage Pop-Up celebrates 100 years of Herman Miller with a rare peek into its archives. The flagship store at 251 Park Avenue South will also offer new and limited-edition products like the Alexander Girard collection of posters.

The Radiator Show is an exhibition of innovative and craft-focused designers and artists whose work encompasses furniture, lighting, and objects. On display will be new work that offers challenges or questions about how comfort can be interpreted in contemporary interiors.

The living room at Lee Broom penthouse. Photo courtesy of NYCxDESIGN

Lee Broom opens his NYC penthouse in Tribeca for NYCXDesign, offering a rare opportunity for visitors to book an appointment for a private tour of the space, which will showcase the designer’s acclaimed collection in a residential setting for the first time. The elegant duplex apartment serves as an appointment-only showroom as well as the designer’s own residence when he is in the city. Occupying the fifth and sixth floors of the first sustainable restoration of its kind in New York City, each room of the space has been personally designed by Broom.

Street Lab showcase at LIC Springs! festival on Vernon Boulevard. Photo courtesy of NYCXDesign

Design districts: neighborhood-based retail and studio highlights
Showrooms, shops, and studios in the city’s design-intensive neighborhoods will be staying open late with cocktail-assisted events for anyone who wanders by, and open studios are a great opportunity to check out the work of local designers and artisans. A few highlights:

The Soho Design District puts the spotlight on neighborhood stars like Carl Hansen & Søn, Industry West, and Original BTC, among others, who will be sponsoring events, launching new products, or just offering cocktails and lots of cool stuff to discover. Check the calendar if you’re in the neighborhood.

Street Lab showcase at LIC Springs! festival on Vernon Boulevard. The NYC-based nonprofit Street Lab, which creates and shares programs for public space, will offer a showcase of its pop-up programs and designs for public space, live and in-action in partnership with local businesses at the free LIC Springs! festival on Vernon Boulevard. The showcase will include Street Lab’s One Big Table, designed specifically for use on open streets, as well as Street Lab’s portable reading room, interactive Lego-building stations, and more.

Mercer Street “Block Party.” Join Orior, Bocci, Roll + Hill, Calico Wallpaper, and Atelier de Troupe as they open their doors to celebrate design and debut new launches with entertainment and refreshments.

Design Day at the Yard. The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a hub for design attracting local, national, and international brands. This event is geared toward design professionals and innovation leaders as well as individuals looking to buy direct and collaborate with local designers.

Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn is a hub of art and design all year round, and the Industry City Design Festival (ICDF) and Open Studios provide an opportunity to celebrate this creative community with international exhibitions, interactive art installations, design and art panel discussions, hands-on family workshops, film screenings, ticketed dinners, and open studio time. One highlight is the new 1,200-square-foot marketplace Brooklyn Made, set to open on Thursday, May 18.

Photo © Julienne Schaer/courtesy of NYCXDesign.

The inaugural Madison Avenue Design Week on the Upper East Side will offer curated experiences, talks, and festivities in the neighborhood’s many interior design and home furnishing stores, showrooms, and galleries from East 57th to East 86th Streets.

The NYCxDESIGN Garden Party with Chilewich + Loll Designs will help kick off NYCxDESIGN in the magical backyard garden of the Chilewich Store. Enjoy drinks and light bites in the leafy oasis designed by Brooklyn-based DLANDstudio.

The Spiral, opening party hosted by Tishman Speyer. Photo courtesy of NYCxDESIGN

Talks, classes, workshops, and parties
NYCxDESIGN Festival Opening Party and After Party. Following the NYCxDESIGN AWARDS presented by Interior Design Magazine, there will be a kickoff party at The Spiral, hosted by STUDIO by Tishman Speyer, featuring vignettes designed by HEM and Bjarke Ingels Group’s architectural work of human-centric sustainable design. Later, head to the Tuleste Factory in Chelsea for the official NYCxDESIGN after-party.

Exploring the Real Time Internet (and karaoke!) with argodesign. Join argodesign at their studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for an interactive open studio and happy hour event, featuring a chance to explore the power of generative computing and AI tools. Don’t miss the interactive KaraokeGPT installation, with custom lyrics to your favorite hits powered by ChatGPT.

“Design the Long Life You Love” Book Signing by Ayse Birsel. Join WantedDesign and Ayse Birsel, one of the world’s leading industrial designers, for a meet-the-author event for her newest book, “Design the Long Life You Love” at The Lounge at the Javits Center.

What it Takes to Start and Run a Successful Design Studio. Are you a designer thinking about going out on your own, or an established entrepreneur looking to grow? This panel discussion with Spark Design Professionals in conjunction with NYCxDESIGN has assembled experts who run successful design businesses to discuss what it takes to get started, the challenges of growth, and how to achieve your goals. Expect discussion, Q&A, and networking with other studio owners after the panel talk.


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