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May 30, 2007
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Usually when the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is in town I look forward to the more progressive expositions off-site from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. This year, for example, I was looking forward to Haute Green, an exhibition of “the best in sustainable design for the contemporary home” in Chelsea. Unfortunately, Haute Green fell short of my expectations. With 58 featured designers, I was expecting cutting-edge design that fully considered what it means to be green. Yes, there were a lot of recycled materials and compact fluorescent light bulbs. But overall I felt as if many of the pieces did not thoroughly explore all aspects of sustainability — every part was not necessarily made of green materials, manufacturing processes were not always taken into account, the recyclability of the pieces was seldom investigated.

If organizers are going to arrange for a separate “cutting-edge” exposition, they should be extra selective with the designers they choose. In general, Haute Green included designers who were taking their first stab at green design, and their amateurism showed.

The ICFF, on the other hand, surprised me with its range of designs. Instead of just showcasing high-end “yuppie” furniture, which has been my impression previous years, there was variety in furniture types and designers. There were booths for children and pet furniture; emerging designers were featured in addition to the usual celebrity bigwigs. Designboom, an organization for emerging designers, allowed designers to sell products. Green design was featured at many booths, including the Next Generation award winners’ Metropolis booth. Overall ICFF was a success, and hopefully next year the trend will continue incorporating more diversity in price range and design.

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