The 2013 New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) opened its doors this weekend, once again bringing a growing number of sustainable design options to the table. From home goods to furnishings to textiles, the NYIGF draws buyers from around the world. As visitors pass from one section of the show to the next in the Javitz Center, it would be hard to miss the "sustainability" hallway, a corridor showcasing sustainable designs that can be found scattered throughout the larger event. Inhabitat toured the NYIGF to scout out some of our favorite options!
It was hard to pass by Peg and Awl’s stall and not be enthralled. The Philadelphia based husband-wife duo carefully laid out some of the many found treasures that they transformed into heritage items. They constructed a small wooden cheese board from reclaimed Walnut from a local cabinet maker’s shop and aged steel boat cleat handles. Hand rubbed with olive oil, it is safe to eat from and easily maintained with regular natural oiling. Their waxed canvas Marlowe Lunchbags and totes also seem to be big sellers this season and offer a re-useable alternative to brown paper lunchbags. For those looking for gardening accessories, reclaimed Oak Nesting Garden Boxes offer a perfect solution for urbanites interested in small, stylish receptacles from which to house plants. Or if you have a backyard with a sturdy tree branch reaching into it, Peg and Awl’s offers a tree swing with some history. The seat is made from reclaimed old growth pine that once served as floor joist in a 19th century house and is finished with tung oil.
Also in the gardening category, the Greenaid Seedbombs from COMMONstudio offer a guerrilla approach to promoting greener cities. Based in Los Angeles, Greenaid works in partnership with Chrysalis to offer opportunities to local formerly homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Over 253,000 individual “bombs”, equating to about 75 million seeds, have been distributed across 68 cities worldwide. Each seedbomb is made from a mixture of clay, compost and hundreds of seeds. The small balls are launched with a slingshot into underused landscapes and users are invited to add their latest action to interactive maps featured on Greenaid’s website. New balls can be purchased from vending machines in select locations and suggested ideal seedbombing locations offer users a strategic way to have the most impact; all of this can be found online.
For those looking to support sustainable design coming from further away, a variety of international projects give consumers a way to do so. For instance, Fab Habitat Baskets designed by Vaishali Design Studios in India are made from recycled plastic taken from bottle caps and containers and are themselves recyclable as well. They are handfinished by local artisans and disabled workers from the Navjeevan Society, who receive a fair wage for their work. Also made from recycled materials, Zen Zulu’s woven Imbenge and Jaheni baskets are made in South Africa from old telephone cables and come in a variety of bold colors. Eangee Home Designs, a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, offers several handmade options from the Philippines that feature nature untouched. The Urn driftwood series includes vessels in a variety of shapes and sizes made from found driftwood that is bound with hidden brackets. Lights feature shades made from coca leaves or Abacca, a weed commonly found throughout the country. From the Netherlands, the Crushed Vase designed and manufactured by Rob Brandt is made from recycled glass and offers an alternative to the straight drinking glass.
Textiles also showed up in force across the NYIGF, featuring a variety of sophisticated surfaces transformed into home goods designs. Of particular note, Proud Mary’s hand woven and dyed textile designs from Mali, West Africa and Guatemalan artisans come in a variety of subtle hues and serve as pillow covers or small travel pouches. Boasting products in a similar range of hues but with a different story and type of weaving, Basik 855 offers placemats, napkins, pillows and other home goods made in Cambodia using traditional Ikat techniques. Run as a social enterprise, the business employs 46 weavers who receive healthcare and 10% of proceeds go towards clean water initiatives.
For those with an appreciation for textiles and texture, Marina Paper’s variety of hand-bound books, wall hangings and cushions will challenge you to re-think paper use. Founder Marina Shrestha has developed a paper alternative to leather that she calls Vegetal. The durable material is made from Lokta fibers and is featured in her cushion and journal designs. The designer has also created a wall hanging that features block colors, which upon closer inspection reveal small books that fit perfectly into the larger board making it both decorative and functional. The Nepal-based company has existed for over 20 years and has worked with the same 20 employees during that period. Previously sales came mostly from Europe and France, but as the company continues to grow, they hope to find US outlets to sell their high-quality designs.
With thousands of designs on exhibit and the sustainable roster growing each year, the NYIGF continues to make a strong presence in New York City drawing crowds from across the globe. It offers a great chance to not only see the latest designs, but to also meet some of the makers at select stalls. The show continues through Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at the Javitz Center, Pier 92 and Pier 94.
All images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat