On New York's Pier 94, this spring's Architectural Digest Home Design Show was a chance for professionals and armchair decorators to see a sampling of the state of the art in everything from appliances and room finishes to, well, art.
Premium kitchen and bath manufacturers deployed exhibit teams and chefs at the late March show to display the finishes and features of high-end equipment.
There was a yin and yang feel to the booths in the cookware section: On one side, La Cornue, Viking and Sub-Zero showed professional style ranges and ovens with lots of high-profile dials and burners, in the ubiquitous stainless, but also in interesting new colors like deep orange, marigold and blue. Muscular and serious, they were matched in some cases with Old World-style cabinetry, cornices and flooring reminiscent of French chateaux, or maybe Downton Abbey.
If those were the Bentleys, on the other side of the aisle were the Ferraris: the sleek, polished kitchens of SieMatic, Scavolini and Miele. Stainless, glass and lacquered cabinetry in white, merlot and stone hid the major appliances; countertops were smooth runways with integrated stovetops and no discernible controls. Even when knobs were raised, there were custom covers to make them disappear.
And there were even a few hybrids, including a kitchen from DOM with faux weather-bleached cupboards and tables coupled with sleek opaque glass cabinetry. Jenn-Air combined rustic veneers and whitewashed storage with professional steel equipment.
Sculpture met function in many of the range hoods — some were mighty-looking machines that seemed powerful enough to suck up the cat, while others had a more decorative feel.
Sorpresa's Sphera, a sculptural air extractor, mounts like a pendant light; Lipstick resembles a cosmetics tube in saucy red lacquer. Elica showed its jewel-encrusted orb light and exhaust combination. Streamline offered custom hoods clad in colored glass and steel, as well as the option to cover the hood in your own photographic art.
At the other end of the Pier, the show took on a different vibe. Big companies making big things gave way to what's often the most intriguing area of the Architectural Digest show: the "MADE" wing of juried galleries, where artists and artisans display their creativity. This year, there were some fun, quirky pieces attracting passers-by and buyers.
At Wild Chairy, Andrea Mihalik recycles vintage chairs into functional art using bold combinations of textiles, and embellishments like organza petals or laced grommets.
Francine Gardner's Interieurs booth had a rectangular light fixture made of iron pipe, chandelier bulbs and crystals that somehow bridged the worlds of steampunk and high style. Perhaps as an ironic twist on the spotlight, Re-Surface Design's Solo lamps reimagined classic microphones as pendant lights. And Fiyel Levent turned a series of intricate pen and ink drawings into laser-cut paper and brass table lamps evocative of Noguchi and Asawa.
John Eric Byers carved hardwood cylinders to resemble hammered metal, then blackened them and clad the ends in gold leaf to make a striking series of tables.
Kaiser Suidan's overscale, wall-mounted, ceramic toy jacks and cubes were eye-catching; he'll work with clients to match colors or themes.
Eric Boos showed a curvy, stylized collection of ceramic fruit bowls.
And Clark Sorensen got attention with his handmade porcelain urinals ("inspired by nature — and the call of it") shaped like seashells and flowers.