So often, when it comes to furniture in a home with children, there is a tug of war between functionality and beauty. Either get the industrial strength dining chairs that are ugly but never stain, or the elegant chairs that will force you to exercise your vocal cords all the time. There are those, of course, who get the beautiful chairs and cover them with industrial strength plastic, but they’re not fooling anyone. I personally prefer the happy children.
With these tensions in mind, I attended my third Architectural Digest Home Design Show. This year, I thought, I’d bring ideas home to more than just my immediate family (one of whom has, in the past, gone home with a kiddush cup commission and another, a new candelabra).
The Design Show can be overwhelming and I like to focus on individual artisans as much as possible and really hear them speak about their work. A real standout at the Show was Wud furniture design. Designed and run by Corey Springer, the pieces do not speak of compromise but of a rich multi-layered look that is both easy on the eye and easy to maintain. The furniture is made up of gorgeous woods and metal. The surprise is when you touch the piece. I saw a wooden bench with metal seats and naturally reached out to touch it. Instead of cold metal, my hand met with a smooth epoxy resin. It was exciting and yet, warm. This is a bench, I thought, that would keep well and allow me to keep my voice down. Springer agrees and describes the look as “modern and sleek but requires very little maintenance.” Springer’s wife, Keren, told me that although most people assume they are German, they are not and are actually Jewish. Their studio is in Brooklyn and the wood they use is FSC certified.
Another Jewish standout at the show was Beth Weintraub. Hailing from California, Weintraub produces botanical etchings on metal tiles. Her work is unexpected: I love the juxtaposition of plants and flowers with acid etching. It is cool and yet unabashedly pretty. A plus for me is that the etchings are done directly on metal wall tiles and require no framing. You can hang one or put together a series. It is collectable art with a distinct point of view. And, of course, I always go for the easy look over the precious.
A new addition to the show is Green Depot. Just as it sounds, the Green Depot is a building supply store with a slant: environmentally friendly. Even for those not yet dedicated to sustaining the earth, Green Depot has supplies such as The Kill A Watt, sensor, which “helps you cut costs down and find out which household appliances are worth keeping plugged in. It allows you to calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, even year.”
Not to overwhelm with the art portion of the show, but I would be remiss if I did not write about the Trowbridge Gallery. It was fortunate that I did not see the word “gallery” until I was already hooked because I find galleries quite intimidating. The Trowbridge Gallery was so jam-packed, however, with the mesmerizing, the striking and the hauntingly beautiful artwork in which they specialize that I did not have a choice but to browse the works for much more time than I actually had. The gallery offers artwork that spans from reproduction prints photography to botanical works and even textiles. Although many top interior designers source from the gallery, the prices are not stratospheric and a customer can build a collection over time. The work is commissioned and framed by the gallery so this is not merely a compilation but a unified collection with heart.
Most of us are being more careful with money these days, whether by actual necessity or the fear of what may come. Stories abound of construction jobs halted for lack of funds, homes that won’t sell and credit that won’t be given. Many of us are spending more time at home these days. Why not make that home as comfortable as we can? Why not invest in pieces built locally and responsibly that will last, pieces we can pass on? Why not begin an art collection that is beautiful to look at, help train our eyes and build value? Lastly, there are times when work on our homes cannot be avoided, such as maintenance and repairs. Why not be a bit more earth-conscious when shopping for building materials and home supplies? The Architectural Digest Design Show is a wonderful source for that freest of resources – good ideas and inspiration.
Shoshana Greenwald is a freelance journalist and design lover living in Brooklyn.