Reportage

Bring the World of Design into Your Home: NY NOW

Disclaimer: this post does not contain any affiliated links and was not sponsored by anyone - our reviews, comments and preferences are purely based on what we observed and liked at the show.

Several times a year, the design world comes to New York, putting on an exciting show for designers to see new products, trends and get access to vendors they would perhaps not know about. At Maison KoduZen, we spent one day browsing the show rooms and wanted to give you a quick overview of what we thought was exciting/interesting. Most of our picks are obviously related to sustainable and eco-friendly designs, principle dear to our hearts as a design firm.

Decors & Accessories

Uashmama: Australia-based, this company makes all sorts of item out of paper (that also happens to be washable). Produced largely in Italy, where the concept was discovered by the founder of the company, we really appreciate the sleek look of most of their designs. Our top pick being this simple basket/bucket (pictured) that can be used for virtually anything. 

Grainwell: the story of these three sisters from Kentucky is as heart-warming as their wood designs, customized and made in their workshop. Our favorite? The subtle little city names to nail on your wall or simply display on a shelf (pictured).

Nude: Turkish-based designs, inspired by nature, Nude presents a fantastic, yet simple collection created by brilliant designers. The work of Erdem Akan in particular is really remarkable. The proof? This pretty jewelry stand, Blossom (pictured).

 Left: Uashmama paper bucket - Center: Grainwell city name - Right: Jewelry stand by Erdem Akan for Nude

Left: Uashmama paper bucket - Center: Grainwell city name - Right: Jewelry stand by Erdem Akan for Nude

Plants and Flowers

Kulvase: Clever vases designed to keep your bouquets fresh longer, thanks to a neat technology embedded in the containers, keeping them (and the water) cool. Our favorite item being the Softness vase (pictured) - transparent, simple and elegant.

Floral Import: for its cute porcelain-made planters in all shapes and forms. We recommend in particular the Pebble collection for its simple lines (pictured).
 

For the Kitchen

Swedish Treasures: its product Wet-it (pictured), an eco-friendly, dishwasher-resistant alternative to a sponge comes into a great variety of colors and designs to brighten up your kitchen. 

For the Kids' room

HapticLab: the already famous Brooklyn-based design firm was presenting its beautiful kites and other quilts. We could NOT not list them :) Our picks: this beautiful sail boat kite and this great constellation quilt (both pictured).
 

Furniture

Roost: for those who do not know yet this Californian furniture company specialized in organic, sustainable designs, they had the most beautiful booth at the show (and amongst the largest - pictures were unfortunately prohibited) but check out their website for some great design inspiration.

Nested: great discovery for us on this edition of NY NOW, this South African furniture manufacturer with breathtaking contemporary woodworks. Our favorite: Pick up a Stick shelf (pictured) and the whimsical Bucket Stool (pictured) - another great concept of theirs (could not find it online), the stackable furniture decorated by the South African artist, Renée Rossouw.

Rugs

Fab Habitat: great collection of rugs from India, fair trade and eco-friendly. Our favorite is amongst the Zen collection with the Lucent rug (pictured).

Brooklyn Apartment Transformation - Reportage

Brooklyn-apartment

A little blog post to give you more details about the story recently published on our home page

This young American couple living in this great apartment in Fort Greene came back to the US in October 2016, after 3 years spent in Zurich, Switzerland. Shortly after their move, they contacted us to help furnish their main living space and figure out how to make it look 'together'. 

The starting point

When they left for Europe, they knew their expat situation was going to be temporary so they did not purchase anything of value and did not bring much from Switzerland (apart from a few souvenirs here and there) so we were starting pretty much from scratch. The only things that we had to work with were:

  • The artworks inherited from a grandfather, finally in their possession after their few years abroad. 
  • A dining table purchased at Ikea and 2 wishbone chairs (the last two being inherited as well).
  • A black TV console (and flat screen TV).
  • Rugs purchased at Target.
  • A gray sofa they had already purchased and were waiting to be delivered.
  • 3 Empire lamps (mid-size).

The process

When we first met, the couple had already filled our style questionnaire so we already knew what their favorite colors were (purple and blue), whether they liked patterns (not really), how much color they wanted (pops of it here and there), how much accessories/furniture (a balanced amount) and what style they were attracted to (modern and contemporary). Our initial discussion went deeper into those questions, understanding how they were using the space so far, how they felt about the current layout and what was their biggest concern at this point (lighting in the evening as they had just 3 lamps, great for a traditional office space but not ideal for a living room).

After that initial meeting, we gave them 10 days to create and share a Pinterest board with us to see what aesthetic they were gravitating towards and understand better their preferences.  

 Personal selection from the client (detail)

Personal selection from the client (detail)

After careful review of the items they had selected, it became clear to us they were gravitating towards airy elements, preferably with some sort of wires that got us immediately thinking about the American sculptor Alexander Calder. 

 Examples of Calder's work.

Examples of Calder's work.

You can admire Calder's work at prestigious places such as the Guggenheim, the Tate Modern, MoMA etc - and his work is famous for being light, airy and whimsical at times. He was the inventor of the mobile structure as we know it today - a great mix between art and design. 

With that, we got started and shared with them the concept below.

 Concept board submitted

Concept board submitted

Typically, we present this board in person to discuss but since the couple was traveling for the Thanksgiving break (and we wanted them to take advantage of the Black Friday sales), we recorded a little video to walk them through the concept... And they loved it! 

They picked the option 1 of the chair to match the wishbone chairs they already owned and we shared with them the full shopping list (after suggesting alternatives for the rug they were not fond of). 

The challenge

A few elements were from a vendor that has an average 4 to 6 weeks lead time for delivery, plus, the sofa they had ordered was being delayed every week. In other words, our client was on a roll to wait until March to get it all complete which was far too late.

The solution

We searched alternative options with vendors that would deliver quicker - the clients also searched on their end, providing options and asking what we thought would be best for their interior. After a few back and forth, we managed to update the entire shopping list with more acceptable delivery times - for the same price (sometimes even lower).

The result

Mid-January, everything had arrived, had been installed and they sent us pictures of their new space. As the last step in the process, we offered to go shopping for staging elements on their behalf and scheduled a last meeting to stage their interior and take pictures of the final result. Yay!

before-after-brooklyn-apartment
before-after-brooklyn-apartment
before-after-brooklyn-apartment

If you wish to view the full gallery, go here.

We want to warmly thank this lovely couple as it was such as great experience working with them and let us take pictures of their new interior. They also left us a stellar review which is always greatly appreciated!

Reportage - Restore NY renovation project

Giving-back

Last week, I volunteered for a project renovating the office space of a non-profit organization called Restore NY.  Restore NY is dedicated to helping foreign women getting out of human trafficking and prostitution in New York City - needless to say, getting to hear what those people do on a daily basis was rather inspiring. I got involved in this project thanks to a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute - Carmita Sanchez: she has been working with Restore NY for the past year since they signed the lease for this new office space.

In January 2016, the team was in such a rush that the most urgent tasks got taken care of: the walls got painted and the floor replaced so the team could start working. Meanwhile, students at FIT started elaborating floor plans based on the following requirements:

  • Create a conference room that offered more privacy (the short-term solution was creating a room with a curtain - not sustainable to hold training, meetings, etc)
  • Create a layout to fit at least 10 working stations.
  • Add touches of red, the color of Restore NY. 

Three teams suggested designs and collaborated to eventually present a finalized layout to Restore that approved it and started searching for vendors to get the necessary material. Given the nature of the organization, funds were limited so the idea was to have students and anyone who wanted to volunteer to mount furniture, prep walls for painting, install and clean. That is also why it took so long: the work could only take place during the week for the glass doors to be installed and on consecutive days to be convenient to the Restore NY team who needed to relocate during that time period - it also had to be tied to the Academic calendar for students to participate.

 The waiting and work areas are now clearly separated and a white board has been created so that people can write and sketch above their working station.

The waiting and work areas are now clearly separated and a white board has been created so that people can write and sketch above their working station.

 Main space with conference room.

Main space with conference room.

 Main working area - that can now fit 12 people.

Main working area - that can now fit 12 people.

The result? In 3 days, the glass doors got installed to create a new conference room area, the entire room and ceiling got repainted, furniture delivered, mounted and installed, a new white board is now available for writing notes and sketches and the space is overall more functional. Thanks to the company Space Plus that offered 50% off the glass doors needed and the furniture company Poppin that graciously offered chairs and filing cabinets. 
Restore NY has been very happy with the results and could not wait to get working in that clean and nice space!