15 Installation Highlights at London Design Festival 2019

With global climate strikes in the news, it was refreshing to see climate awareness as a driving topic at this year’s London Design Festival. After all, the global climate problem is one the design community has the power to influence. The British capital’s celebration of all things design was held September 14-22—and once again Interior Design saw dozens of clever and intriguing site-specific installations, many inspiring wonder and reflection. From an animated cube pointing attention to ocean trash to the surprising curves possible with recycled scaffolding planks—and even what is possibly the world’s most comfortable subway car—these 15 standouts caught our eye.


15 Installation Highlights at London Design Festival 2019

A tendency towards bold color and often outdoor friendly—that sums up many of the new product launches unveiled last week in Spain. Bigger than ever, the annual trade show Feria Habitat Valencia 2019 took place September 17-20, drawing more than 500 exhibitors and some 25,000 visitors to the southern European country’s third-largest city.

Meanwhile, the local design industry basked in the glow of a major coup: On September 9, the World Design Organization named Valencia the World Design Capital for 2022, in tribute to its longstanding design legacy. That reputation for innovation was evident in the show’s offerings—from a chair with a handy internal pocket to happy-go-lucky poufs, elegant outdoor seating, and chairs that hug. Here are 15 of our favorite finds.


15 Product Highlights From Feria Habitat Valencia 2019

A tendency towards bold color and often outdoor friendly—that sums up many of the new product launches unveiled last week in Spain. Bigger than ever, the annual trade show Feria Habitat Valencia 2019 took place September 17-20, drawing more than 500 exhibitors and some 25,000 visitors to the southern European country’s third-largest city.

Meanwhile, the local design industry basked in the glow of a major coup: On September 9, the World Design Organization named Valencia the World Design Capital for 2022, in tribute to its longstanding design legacy. That reputation for innovation was evident in the show’s offerings—from a chair with a handy internal pocket to happy-go-lucky poufs, elegant outdoor seating, and chairs that hug. Here are 15 of our favorite finds.


Lutron Opens New Commercial Experience Center in Manhattan’s NoMad Neighborhood

Lutron recently invited press and industry guests to visit its new commercial Experience Center in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood. At a spacious 5,500 square feet, it’s almost twice the size of Lutron’s previous Penn Plaza location. The center offers architects, designers, contractors, developers, and building owners an immersive experience that showcases Lutron’s range of lighting and control capabilities.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Lutron’s Experience Center showcases Ketra’s programmable smart lighting technology. Photography courtesy of Lutron.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by Lutron’s original 1961 rotary dimmer, signaling the origins of a product line focused on lighting control and the ways lighting can affect the human experience. A tour of the Experience Center showcases the four aspects of the Lutron HXL (human experience lighting) brand: quality light, natural light, connection to the outdoors, and adaptive and personalized controls.

The interactive spaces include a model hotel suite. Photography courtesy of Lutron.

The center is divided into distinct environments to show the different capabilities and use cases for Lutron’s Ketra smart lighting system, including a lobby area, meeting rooms, and a model hotel suite.

The Experience Center displays functions that respond to and simulate natural light. Photography courtesy of Lutron.

Lutron also has commercial Experience Centers in Coopersburg, PA.; Plantation, FL.; Irvine, CA.; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto and London, as well as a residential Experience Center in Midtown Manhattan.


10 Questions With… Kate Duncan

What you see is what you get with furniture designer/maker Kate Duncan, and what you get is increasingly impressive. Duncan’s furniture is meticulously crafted and her new collections are always refreshingly original. Her latest work, which she developed while completing a studio fellowship in Rockport, Maine earlier this year, was shown with great success at curated Manhattan design event Next Level in May. And the Kate Duncan brand is now represented by Dmitriy & Co in New York, and Salon in Boston.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Duncan has been at the center of the Pacific Northwest design scene since launching her brand in 2014 and is the founder and co-curator of Vancouver’s annual designer/maker showcase event Address. Now in its sixth year, Address (which runs September 25-29) will present the work of 40 exhibitors from all over North America, including Portland, Toronto, Texas, and Los Angeles. The show has also been picked up by DesignTO (formerly Toronto Design Offsite Festival) and will run for a week during the Toronto Design Festival (January 17-26, 2020).

Interior Design sat down with Duncan to hear about her latest work, how Address has taken on a life of its own, and how wiping out on her motorcycle led to her successful design career.

Interior Design: What was the thinking behind your latest collection, Ribbed?

Kate Duncan: I wanted to take a bit of a departure from where I was—drawing inspiration from the Arts & Crafts movement, mid-century modern, Japanese joinery—I really wanted to take a break from all that, stop dreaming in that language and pick up something different. So, I went back to the rolltop desk. It was a sculptural element. I started to look at sculpture, what sculptors were doing, what ceramicists were doing, not furniture makers, what everyone else was doing. And then I took a look at architecture, and specifically the Brutalist movement of the ‘70s. It was cool to start from scratch. It took a long time. I got to the fellowship in Maine in early February and I don’t think I did anything for the first four or five weeks. I just sat and sketched.

Ribbed credenza by Kate Duncan with black leather veneer and brass pulls. Photography by Sierra Kristen Photography.

ID: What pieces resulted from this?

KD: A credenza with a black veneer. It’s a bit elegant. It’s got a tuxedo vibe, and the drawer pulls are pure brass. I designed them and had them manufactured. Then there’s a writing desk—all pieces come in white oak, black walnut, and maple—with a green leather top, so really riffing on the traditional writing desk. And then there’s a dining table and bed.

ID: What has the reaction to this collection been like so far?

KD: I showed a few pieces in New York this past May and I did really well with it. Sold a piece right off the show floor and got picked up by a showroom in Manhattan. They’re now sending me all kinds of work.

Ribbed desk by Kate Duncan. Photography by Sierra Kristen Photography.

ID: Address is now in its sixth year. What can people look forward to seeing this year?

KD: It’s going to be huge. We’ve got a 9,000-square-foot warehouse and 40 exhibitors from all over North America. Some of the designer/makers participating are Nike Schroeder from LA, Djuna Day from Toronto, Tretiak Works from Portland, Vancouver quilt designer KTWP Studios, and jewelry designer Erica Leal.

ID: Address has also been picked up by DesignTO. Can you tell us about this?

KD: The show is going to change a little bit from Vancouver to Toronto. Instead of 30 or 40 exhibitors I’m going to scale back the show to 12 tops and focus on more established designer/maker brands. There’s a language more established brands have versus younger brands, and though I love to create a platform for younger and up-and-coming brands—it’s really fun—it’s also really challenging.

Address in Vancouver showcases designer/makers from across North America. Photography courtesy of Kate Duncan.

ID: We understand you’re partnering with Lightform Toronto for this?

KD: They’ve got a showroom warehouse that’s right in the heart of the design district. We’re talking about incorporating their lighting into the work of the 12 exhibitors to make it flow. I feel really good about Lightform, DesignTO, and Address all pooling our brainpower for this one beautiful aesthetic.

ID: When did you first discover your love of furniture making?

KD: I took woodshop classes right from when I was 12 years old through to when I graduated. Both my parents were accountants—they don’t even know which end of the hammer to pick up—so I don’t really know why or where it came from. It was just a really big pull. I wanted to make the thing. I wanted to see what the thing was, whatever it was.

The Heather bed by Kate Duncan. Photography by Brittney Kwasney.

ID: You were a high school woodshop teacher and set up a pilot program for inmates at a Greater Vancouver detention center. When did you make the switch to full-time furniture designer/maker?

KD: When I was 28, I was sideswiped in a hit and run and knocked off my motorcycle at a really busy intersection. A bus came up in the lane beside me and ran over my helmet. The paramedics couldn’t believe I essentially walked away, but I was off work for a year-and-a-half having surgical reconstructions (hip and arm) and I kind of rehabilitated in the woodshop. I made furniture for myself, which was kind of wonky. But then the orders started coming in and I was like cool, this is like a job. Let’s do this.

ID: What does your apartment look like?

KD: Sometimes it looks awesome. It’s been featured in magazines before. Sometimes it can look super dope and then sometimes not so much.

ID: Why, what changes?

KD: Sales. I sell something and then there’s this big gaping hole, like oh the mattress is now on the floor. Whoops! All the prototypes go to my house and eventually I sample sale them off.


A Classic Chair Gets a Modern Update

In the 1980s, a decade synonymous with big hair and bold colors, offices reflected a more buttoned-up vibe with monotone high-walled cubicles and stiff seating. At a time when few people discussed wellness in the workplace, the majority of office furnishings lacked ergonomic sophistication. But in 1987, one manufacturer introduced a chair that revolutionized the nature of workplace design by melding scientific research with a sleek aesthetic, prioritizing employee comfort. 

At that time, esteemed European designer, Burkhard Vogtherr, created the Motion Chair for Davis Furniture, carving a new niche in the market. The chair’s ability to adapt to the motion of the human body, and move in synchronization with its user’s every movement, disrupted traditional office seating. More than thirty years later, the company is introducing an updated take on this classic in celebration of its 75th anniversary—the M75.  

The M75 Chair is offered in a variety of colors. Photography courtesy of Davis Furniture. 

The M75, designed by Vogtherr in collaboration with Jonathan Prestwich, utilizes a slightly altered version of the Motion Chair’s original mechanism, enabling movement in the chair’s seat and back. The updated design takes on a sleek, minimalist aesthetic and intuitively adjusts to each users’ weight. Unlike the original model, the M75’s motion mechanism is tucked away in the chair’s seat, creating a cleaner look. 

“The geometry of the chair is designed so that the user acts as a counterweight for the movement of the seating mechanism,” says Ashley Davis Williams, Special Projects Director at Davis Furniture and great-granddaughter of company founder, John T. Davis, Sr. “Vogtherr and Prestwich took certain aspects of the Motion chair, namely the ideal comfort and the revolutionary mechanism, and worked to create the same result through a more sophisticated and modern design.”   

The M75 takes on a the look of a static sculpture with seamless lines. Photography courtesy of Davis Furniture. 

Davis Furniture’s new collection, which includes high-and-low-backed chairs, reflects the company’s storied history of innovative design—the M75 is unassuming, yet elegant. More importantly, the chair is crafted to optimize comfort. As more employers prioritize health and wellness in the workplace, the collection’s relevance is abundantly clear. 

The M75 features a stylish neutral palette and an array of accent finishes, from a polished aluminum base to a powder-coated one. Powder finishes include: Anthracite, Light Grey, Mid Grey, Silver, or Bronze as well as Matte Black, Matte White, or Matte Silver. Most fabrics and leathers can be used for the chair’s upholstery, adding to its unique ability to work well in traditional or modern spaces. Designers also will take comfort in knowing Davis Furniture is committed to sustainable design. The company currently is working to implement energy conservation initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases and limit its carbon footprint; it also earned a Gold Indoor Advantage Certificate for Executive Seating. 

“During this landmark year, we have the distinct pleasure of remembering the past 75 years of design at Davis Furniture and looking forward to the next 75 and beyond,” says Davis Williams. If the next 75 years prove to be as fruitful as the first, the design community has much to look forward to. 


“Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” to Open at The Shed

An image of Wheatfield–A Confrontation, 1982, two acres of wheat planted and harvested by Agnes Denes on the Battery Park landfill, commissioned by Public Art Fund, is appearing in her retrospective at The Shed in Hudson Yards, October 9 to January 19. Photography courtesy of Agnes Denes and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.

It was May 1982 when 200 truckloads of dirt were brought to a vacant lot. Volunteers dug hundreds of furrows and sowed thousands of seeds. An irrigation system was set up and the field was maintained for months. In August, a crop yielding more than 1,000 pounds of golden wheat was harvested. Kansas or Oklahoma? Far from it. This took place in what is today called Battery Park, and it was the vision of Agnes Denes, the now 88-year-old conceptual artist who lives in SoHo, just a few blocks north of that landmark environmental installation nearly 40 years ago. Come October 9, she’ll be at Hudson Yards, where her retrospective “Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” appears at The Shed. The exhibition, which runs through January 19, features over 150 of her works, including three new ones commissioned by The Shed, among them A Forest for New York. Ongoing since 2014, it’s Denes’s proposal to turn another landfill, this time 120 acres in Far Rockaway, Queens, into a lush public park by planting 100,000 trees.


Darren Walker and Lisa Kim Talk About Their Bold Choices For the New Ford Foundation Gallery

Darren Walker and Lisa Kim, the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice’s president and gallery director, standing before Odili Donald Odita’s Free-Form mural on the center’s second floor. Photography by Paul Godwin.

Since its 1936 launch, the Ford Foundation has been a trailblazer in promoting human rights, equity, and justice, growing ever more global in purview and wide-ranging in impact over the decades. When it opened the doors of its Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates–designed Midtown headquarters in 1967, the 12-story tower of glass, granite, and weathering steel, centered on a soaring atrium planted with lush greenery, was nothing short of groundbreaking, inspiring a new paradigm in architectural urban space.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

That’s why around 2013, when the City of New York told current foundation president Darren Walker that the landmarked building had to be brought up to code by 2019, he greeted the news as an opportunity to re-imagine the building and mission for a new century, rather than as a costly, if necessary, nuisance.

The gallery where “Utopian Imagination” opened on September 17. Photography by Garrett Rowland.

Gensler was charged with leading the upgrade, which required installing all new systems and meeting ADA requirements, which Walker asked the firm to exceed. Sustainability was forefront, with legacy furnishings and fittings refurbished wherever possible in pursuit of LEED Platinum certification. Warrenlike work spaces were transformed into airy, non-hierarchical realms with atrium views for all. An adjoining exterior wall that obstructed the interior garden from the street was removed, and, right inside, former private office space was replaced by a welcome lounge with a coffee bar and “mission wall.”

Gallery director Lisa Kim, a former director of New York’s Percent for Art program and private collections manager/director of exhibitions and operations for Larry Gagosian, was hired to direct the building’s new Ford Foundation Gallery, which has rotating exhibitions open to the public, and assemble a permanent collection of contemporary art expressive of the entity’s calling throughout the dozen floors. Her bold choices humanize an interior that still evokes the corporate cool of the site’s mid-century roots. Kim and Walker discuss how art came to take center stage in what’s now the inclusive and eminently inviting Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice.

“Perilous Bodies,” the inaugural exhibition at the Ford Foundation Gallery. Photography by Garrett Rowland.

Interior Design: Did the foundation always collect art?

Darren Walker: Yes, but it was composed primarily of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century works by European artists. There were few women represented, and no people of color, which seemed odd to me for a foundation committed to social justice.

ID: How did you rectify the situation?

DW: I believe that the arts and humanities help build empathy. And, in order to have more justice in society, we need more empathy in society. But we could not use any grant dollars to attain new works. Consulting with board chair at the time Irene Hirano Inouye, who was the founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum and former chair of the American Alliance of Museums board, we came up with the idea of a deaccession, selling art to buy art. We then presented to the board a new art collection and gallery together as being essential to the re-imagining of the building and they agreed. And the gallery is totally accessible. There’s no $20 barrier.

Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Wanda Crichlow hangs in the entry of the Ford Foundation For Social Justice in New York. Photography by Garrett Rowland.

ID: What criteria did you use for choosing the artwork?

Lisa Kim: There were natural links. We named some of our convening spaces after social justice leaders. So, for the Mandela room, there are works connected to Nelson Mandela, such as Mandela, a collage by Philip Kumah. It wasn’t so much about being obvious as much as being emotive of the values of these leaders and expressive of our values. We were also sensitive to where art was installed and who would interact with it. Darren wanted Hank Willis Thomas’s I Am A Man in the lobby. It’s hung with an actual flyer that one of the sanitation workers on strike was holding. The actual poster and a photograph by Richard Copley of the sanitation march were installed together next to the security desk on the way to the gallery. That piece embodies the mission of the foundation. So, too, does Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Wanda Crichlow in the entry, which offers the most grand welcome. That’s the power of what an art collection can do and its relationship to who we are.

The Ford Foundation’s mission statement, appearing forward here (and backward below) to reflect different perspectives, in the welcome lounge. Photography by Robert Deitchler, courtesy of Gensler. 
Photography by Robert Deitchler, courtesy of Gensler. 

ID: How did the graphics program develop?

DW: Gensler was integral. Lisa and I worked closely with John Bricker and Andrea Plenter from the firm, and they really understood the purpose of the art program and how best to integrate that purpose into a brand that permeates the built environment. They took inspiration from the building and leveraged the past but also built off how the brand should be expressed today.

ID: How so?

DW: Their strategy was what they called a ‘bold whisper,’ bringing the brand to life in a large-scale manner, but quietly. They created branding that is independent of, but complements, the art program. It’s a powerful ally in our fight for social justice.