How important is longevity? That was the unofficial theme at the opening of this year’s Interior Design Show (IDS), Jan. 26–29. As if to echo that idea, four giant chairs made of ice stood guard at the entrance to the convention center, their biomorphic forms eroding under hot spotlights. I didn’t see anyone try to sit in one of these icy thrones, but given that vodka shots (in glasses also made of ice) were being served next to the ice chairs, I’m guessing there are photos of such activity on memory cards all over the city (in cameras owned by folks with no memory of such things).
Inside, there are displays from more than 300 exhibitors, ranging from furniture by Piero Lissoni (above) – this year’s “International Guest of Honour” – to floor tiles, gas fireplaces and students’ prototype chairs. The day began with “Conversations in Design: Trailblazing and Trendspotting,” moderated by Chee Pearlman.
Our CEO John Edelman was one of the speakers, who told the DWR story to the packed room. “Before joining DWR, I made my Edelman Leather employees read the DWR catalog because it was the best way to learn about design,” said Edelman. “When I first stepped into a DWR Studio, it was like going trick-or-treating on a street where every house had my favorite candy.” When the conversation turned to trends, Edelman was quick to add that, “creating temporary objects is very unfulfilling, and ‘trend’ in basic design doesn’t belong with us.”
Speaker John Bricker of Gensler echoed Edelman’s thoughts, and quoted Coco Chanel, who said “Fashion passes. Style stands.” However, Karim Rashid, who is currently working on wedding rings for getting married in outer space, was less convinced, and said that if a client asked him to design a “classic table” then he would then be styling a table, not designing it. “There’s no test of time anymore,” said Rashid. “We live in a disposable world.” (If this were a movie, this is the part where the camera would zoom in on the melting ice chairs, the thunderous sounds of drips hitting the sidewalk.)
Piero Lissoni flirted with both camps – designing for longevity and designing for now – and dismissed his own work as boring as he raced through his slides. Then he asked, “Which is more natural, a sculpted bonsai tree or a Calder mobile that moves?” The tree is a celebration of long-term cultivation and shaping over time, while the Calder mobile was designed to satisfy a specific impulse Calder felt in a specific time. And yet, the irony is that the Calder mobile is the more “classic” of the two – the one that continues to be relevant to how we live while the Bonsai feels dated and staged. “Sometimes you have to be ironic,” said Lissoni. “But you need to choose very well your victims.”
LC2 by Le Corbusier, made of ice.