From Krrb Blog:
Design Week in New York is coming to a close. There were parties a plenty and more than enough furniture to be seen, sat on, and contemplated curiously while people watching to your heart’s content. We were lucky enough to get in on the action by working with Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin on the inaugural run of MakeShift: A Series of Panel Discussions, Workshops, and Conversations for the Fashion and Design Industries.
We opened the week of events last Tuesday with an incredible evening at theStandard Hotel, East. Dubbed “Shifting Thoughts on Design, Fashion, Craft, and DIY” this was anything but your typical panel discussion. The night was highlighted by two performances of “Fair and Tender Ladies” by Rosanne Cash—the first a heart wrenching rendition that showed off Cash’s extraordinary depth and range, the second a tweaked version with some lyrics replaced with suggestions from the audience. The 100 plus in attendance then got to sing the new version themselves, led by Cash. Add in some finger knitting with Natalie Chanin, remarkable stories of DIY success from designer Maria Cornejo andHeath Ceramics owner, Cathy Bailey, and some perspective on the state of the fashion and design industries from NYU professor, Jessamyn Hatcher, the night was, simply put, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
After an Alabama Chanin pop-up shop party held at the Billy Reid showroom on Thursday night featuring the musical marvels of Grammy-nominated Tift Merritt, and a knitting workshop on Friday, we readied ourselves for the main event—at least as far as we were concerned—on Saturday afternoon, “Crafting Design.” For our part, we set about collecting cast-off chairs from Krrb and scouring the streets of New York for broken and busted seating that could be resurrected by attendees.
Partners and Spade provided the space to work and some serious inspiration with their current show of “Children’s Chairs.” Alabama Chanin provided tools and material that would allow attendees to turn the sad and forlorn chairs into pieces ready to once again take center stage in anyone’s home.
With some serious star-studded attendees including Los Angeles-based designersAmy Devers and Tanya Aguiniga, the affair produced some gems that would have been the highlights at any of the many galleries putting their best feet forward during design week.
But we had other ideas. While some attendees took their pieces home, we set Amy and Tanya’s contributions free in the wilds of New York—returned to the streets from whence they came. We are firm believers in what comes around goes around.
The New York Times
From The New York Times:
Pull Up A Chair, Then Fix It
IT’S hard not to get swept up in the excitement of Design Week in New York, when the newest home furnishings are introduced at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and related events happen all over town.
But what about all the old furnishings: those forlorn, broken-down pieces that are forgotten, cast off and kicked to the curb, seemingly destined for the landfill?
Not everyone, it turns out, has left them for dead.
Last Saturday, as part of a conference called MakeShift, Natalie Chanin, the founder of the fashion label Alabama Chanin, held a workshop to rehabilitate some of these castoffs at Partners & Spade on Great Jones Street. The event, which she called Crafting Design, was dedicated to resurrecting the bent, twisted and broken remnants of what the poet David McFadden has described as “the most ubiquitous and important design element in the domestic environment”: the chair.
But with New York’s bed bug scare still going strong, finding enough eligible chairs (more than 20, so that every participant would have at least one to work on) was more challenging than anyone anticipated.
Organizers finally decided that while steel and plastic chairs found on the street were fair game, wooden chairs were too risky, and only those found online were accepted as candidates for rehabilitation. Still, by the morning of the event there was a good-size pile for attendees to pick through outside Partners & Spade.
Amy Devers and Tanya Aguiñiga, Los Angeles-based designers who were in New York for the fair, each found a chair within minutes.
“We do this for a living,” said Ms. Aguiñiga, who specializes in furniture and jewelry design. “We know what we like when we see it.”
Inside, hammers, drills, nails and sandpaper were artfully laid out for participants’ use. The 20 or so people who showed up were given only one instruction: that there were no instructions. Even so, seasoned designers like Ms. Aguiñiga and Ms. Devers and several experienced craftsmen were on hand to offer help and advice.
Cathy Bailey, an owner of Heath Ceramics, grabbed a drill and a plastic knockoff Eames chair and calmly set to work on it, weaving a zigzag pattern into the plastic seat using colorful scraps of T-shirt material provided by Ms. Chanin’s studio.
Ms. Aguiñiga quickly dismantled the weathered seat of her wooden chair. Then she grabbed a handful of T-shirt strips and began weaving them through the back of the chair, creating a soft multicolored backrest. For the seat, she used thin rope to provide structural support and then applied a layer of navy-blue T-shirt material on top.
Ms. Devers, a furniture designer and the star of “Fix This Yard” on A&E, was hammering nails into the seat and back of her old Ikea chair, piling T-shirt scraps on top and carefully threading them through the nail bedding, so that the material began to take on the appearance of a colorful shag rug. One lone, loose piece from the back was left to dangle gracefully to the ground.
Soon, two hours had passed, and it was time to assess the results. All the castoff chairs had been restored to life, and some could have held their own at the furniture fair.
But that was not their destiny. Instead, it was decided that they should be returned to the streets where they came from, to pass on inspiration to whomever found them.
And so, at the end of the day, they were back on the sidewalk. Several of them sat on a corner in Chinatown, beside a pile of trash, where curious passers-by could peruse them.
Perhaps some lucky person took them home.
Andrew Wagner is the current Editorial Director of Krrb, a hyperlocal/mega-global marketplace run by design agency Area 17. He hails from California by way of Connecticut. After graduating from Connecticut College with a degree in environmental psychology he jumped headlong into his editorial career in San Francisco helping found Dodge City Journal, LIMN, and Dwell. In 2006 he headed back east, this time to New York City, to help reinvent the august publication, American Craft. Prior to joining Area 17 he served as the editor-in-chief/chief brand officer of ReadyMade.
He is the current “What You Make of It” columnist for the New York Times in which he digs through the refuse of New York with the goal of turning trash into treasure.
Andrew has also penned the forwards for Princeton Architectural Press’ Handmade Nation and Chronicle Books’ It’s Lonely in the Modern World: The Essential Guide to Form, Function, and Ennui from the Creators of Unhappy Hipsters as well as chapters for Phaidon’sVitamin Green series. When he’s not working on Krrb’s global domination you can probably find him playing second base for the semi-professional baseball team, the Downtown Bulls.