Last Monday my father took me to some design parties in Williamsburg as a part of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and follow up to his trip to i Salone del Mobile di Milano. We parked on N.6th and Kent Avenue; traipsed over potholes and broken glass, passed empty riverside lots to look at the yellow-dotted scrapers against the red-purple sky, and listened to corrugated metal fences whine in the wind.
I complained of the cold so back we went and started at Fresh Kills where we drank Perroni and wiggled past clumps of hipsters to look at the ice-sculpture arm chair (cleverly drained by tubing snaked into a nearby grate in the floor) and a linen-covered Taschen tome on anatomy and surgery (I’m guessing its about $500 and I’m hoping someone will save up and buy it for my quarter-century birthday—only 9 months away!). My father touched every surface of every interesting piece of furniture: marble coffee tables with geometric inlays, dangling lamps of translucent glass. Fresh Kills was small, crowded, and not on his agenda. He was eager to move on, so we chugged the cold beer, eyeing the crowd (shaven heads and circus skirts with potato-sack pockets, dreads of all varieties, people really into design, people really into being into design). And out we went.
At HauteGREEN, my father marveled at the space. This was a workshop, he kept saying. I was here two days ago. Where are the saws? Where are the forklifts? It had become a hip party space, white-walled and minimally filled with items of green design: corrugated cardboard recliners, cork arm chairs, used tea bag wall hangings, book cases made of books. He wiggled the cork and the cardboard furniture, assessing comfort level. He ran his hand along bamboo plywood—“this is nice”. A tactile playground for an artist/craftsman.
From there to a boutique of Dutch and Finnish products. He was disappointed at the lack of Dutch beer.
“More Perroni?” he offered. “Shame on me, feeding my daughter a liquid dinner.”
We could hear the strange ululations of Finnish schmoozing. He gave the glass top of a coffee table on upturned skateboards a twirl. I pointed to an arachnid chandalier, made of black desktop lamps and he shrugged.
“That’s easy and cheap,” he said.
Next to the “big party” for Core77, at a large tapas/mezze restaurant next to empty warehouses, where men in amorphous gray felt costumes gave us 3D glasses. The crowd inside was an immovable blob so we looked a bit at the vibrant photos on the walls nearby (pink pigs with strangely textured skin, almost shingled), looked a bit at the pretty people, and left.
I was ready to call it a night, but dad wanted to hit one more spot. We went to the Altoids Living Space, ducked under film crews recording hipsters in linen cowboy shirts murmuring about gentrification, were disappointed by the cash bar, and stuffed our pockets with free tins of altoids.
“Licorice?” my dad offered. I crinkled my nose. “It’s good for you,” he admonished, before putting the black tin in his brimming pocket. We shuffled back to the car, mints clinking with our steps.