For the past 30 years, the annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) has brought together leaders in the high-end design industry and showcased the newest and best in luxury furniture design. The fair is also a resource for thousands of retail buyers and merchandisers looking for new trends and cutting-edge breakthroughs. This year’s exhibition, held in New York City’s Jacob Javits Center from May 19 through 22, featured over 900 exhibitors from around the globe. From a nitrogen-eliminating toilet to one of the most iconic chairs of the last two decades, check out a few of our favorites below.
The Save! sanitation system by EOOS, Eawag, and Laufen
Alarmed by the urgent need to redefine wastewater management, two Austrian design studios and a Swiss aquatic research firm developed this innovative toilet. EOOS, Laufen, and Eawag came together for Save!, an evolution of the Blue Diversion Toilet that was supported by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s the first gravity-flushed, urine-diverting toilet to meet standards of conventional toilets. Its primary advance, the “Urine Trap,” directs urine toward a concealed outlet solely through surface tension. The separation process removes up to 80% of nitrogen from the wastewater. To make the process possible, Laufen designed a new ceramic bowl that optimally guides the flow. The device needs little maintenance, yet delivers a high-end product.
Greg Genter's Assembly, the 2019 Wilsonart Challenges-winning chair
For more than a decade, prominent engineered-surfaces manufacturer Wilsonart has fostered creativity—and helped launch a few careers—with its yearlong design program that’s both class and competition. Wilsonart Challenges visits a different design school each year, challenging students to design and build a unique chair with the company’s laminate surfaces.
This year, Wilsonart collaborated with Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, encouraging students to use parametric design and digital fabrication. Individually handmade, each chair is a personal expression of what the future means to each student.
With his 2019 winning design, Assembly, Greg Genter fused art and architecture with a design inspired by Brutalist architecture and its multifunctional elements. Laminate accentuates the chair’s expressive form and monumental scale, while its gray color allows for a beautiful play of light and shadow.
Rook Kitchen Collection by Brizo
Inspired by the chess piece of its name, Brizo’s Rook Kitchen Collection is constructed with the same high-level craftsmanship that characterized the aesthetics of the early 20th century. Elegantly designed and constructed, the piece exhibits modern precision with its clean edges, its articulating bridge, and a geometric base with a classical structure. Its studied traditional frame nicely offsets the chamfered handles and the subtle sweep of its sprout. High-quality American craftsmanship radiates from metal buttons on the wand to the magnetic handles, which all fit without the need for screws.
Niels Diffrient's Freedom Chair for Humanscale
Humanscale showcased a true classic from the vault: the original prototype of their iconic Freedom chair, a celebration of a timeless, people-centric philosophy. Designed in 1999 by the company’s late, renowned partner Niels Diffrient, Freedom was the first ergonomic chair that self-adjusted to the weight of the body. The chair was developed without knobs or levers, is easy to use, and revolutionized seating by improving posture without incorporating any manual controls. By embodying an elegant and simple functionality, Diffrient’s Freedom chair stayed true to the designer’s core belief that design should improve the human condition.
The Chime and RAY sconces by Stickbulb
Sustainability-minded indie lighting brand Stickbulb debuted two of its most recent sconce collections—two different designs that are suitable for both residential and commercial environments. Chime redefines the traditional chandelier with an innovative approach to wood. With the same form and volume of a conventional chandelier, the piece emits light through wood instead of crystals, creating a “glowing tree trunk” effect. Another unique feature is the ball joint that allows each bulb to rotate 360 degrees and sway—just like a traditional chime.
Also on display was the RAY Sconce, a simple, minimal design that lends itself well to the elegance of different types of wood. It also includes a new hardware component that allows it to be directly attached to a wall, either vertically or horizontally. The subtle light source accentuates the wood grain and spotlights the precise construction.
Marcel Wanders' Nightbloom collection for Lladró
Nightbloom is a white porcelain chandelier collection from celebrated, Amsterdam-based product and interior designer Marcel Wanders, made in collaboration with Spanish ceramics brand Lladró. Taking an approach that prizes restraint and craftsmanship, Wanders designed a pendant chandelier, floor lamp, desk lamp, and wall lamp for this collection. Drawing inspiration from nature itself—think flower petals dancing in the wind—each piece features three-dimensional reliefs that are carefully hand-crafted and deliberately positioned to highlight the matte finishes and allow for an elegant contrast.
Enoptron collection by Anaktae
United by a shared passion for modern interpretations of Greek antiquity, industrial designer Dianna Karvounis and architect Vivian Philippa are the creative forces behind Athens-based Anaktae. Celebrating their Greek heritage, the firm uses local, natural materials such as wood, bronze, and marble to create luxurious custom-made furniture, lighting, rugs, and decorative objects. (They also make some of their products in the same factory, with the same workers, where the famous “Klismos” Chair was manufactured decades ago.) On display at ICFF this year was the firm’s newest lighting and furniture collection, Enoptron, inspired by the theme of self-discovery. The pieces embody reflection through the mirroring effect of their bronze surfaces and cast Classical Greek aesthetics in a new contemporary light.