Friday Photos: The Gift Fair That Keeps On Giving

By Stephanie Murg Comment

(All photos: UnBeige)

It’s New York International Gift Fair time! The fun kicks off this weekend at the Javits Center, where we’ll again be prowling the aisles of the juried Accent on Design division as a judge for the “Bloggers’ Choice” awards. In the meantime, take a look at our photo album from the February fair. Amidst the merchandise extravaganza, we found covetable goods from old and new favorites, including Artecnica (with a booth softly illuminated by Starlightz paper stars, pictured above), Areaware, Jonathan Adler, Harry Allen, and Alessi—and that’s just the A’s! First up, DFC‘s line of ceramic Skull Boxes. They were designed for trinket storage, but we prefer to think of them as ice cream bowls for Damien Hirst. At just under 11 inches tall, they’re the perfect size for a spin art sundae topped with a spun sugar butterfly.



We could swear we heard a chorus of angels singing as we entered the exhibit hall and beheld the Alessi booth. Still a best-seller after all these years: Philippe Starck‘s Juicy Salif citrus squeezer.


How do we love thee, Marimekko? Let us count the ways. The new “Kippis” pattern (at left) began with the idea of a porcelain mug printed with crystal glasses to make it appropriate for serving celebratory drinks. Designed by Maija Louekari, the fabric print is at once retro and modern. Chalice chic.


Fresh applications of Marimekko’s bold “Karmiini” pattern, designed by Maija Isola in 1959, on kitchen items including aprons and oven mitts.


A herd of Harry Allen‘s piggy banks stood guard outside the Areaware booth. Cast from a pig that died of natural causes, the banks hold up to $10,000 in dollar bills and are unlikely to be seized by regulators.


Inside, Areaware’s well-curated selection included one of our best-in-show picks—Kelly Lamb‘s geodesic birdhouse—while a tribe of Ross Menuez‘s pillows-cum-stuffed animals colorfully colonized a nearby wall.


Our Twitter pals, the lovely ladies of Design GlutKegan Fisher and Liz Kinnmark—standing before a wall of earthenware Hookmakers, an easy way to keep pens, lollipops, and very small pets at your fingertips. It’s a tile! It’s a teacup! Stop, you’re both right!


The totally ’80s Design Glut booth featured the sharp Parallelogram Table that we think would make an excellent birthday gift for Zaha Hadid. At right, Lovegrove & Repucci‘s Urban(e) Silk Scarves, digitally printed with graffiti swirls.


Even the most recession-ravaged gift buyer couldn’t walk by DFC‘s Mexican fiesta of a booth without smiling. Design duo Tony Moxham and Mauricio Paniagua (above, seated atop a stool from the company’s Amusement Park series) describe themselves as proud purveyors of “pretty things, big things, bright things, and shiny things,” including the ceramic Rainbow Trophy Heads that lined the cabana-striped walls.


DFC’s spring line, inspired by the idea of treasures from a mythical land called Mushi Mushi, included hand-decorated ceramic farm animals. “They’re harvested from the Mushi Mushi glitter farm,” explained Moxham with a sparkle in his eye.


Another of our best-in-show picks: the Russian Nesting Doll tables designed by Rich, Brilliant, Willing. On view at the American Design Club booth, the wood side table, with its ring of milk-painted wooden slats, appeared to defy gravity, while the larger aluminum coffee table, in a sharp peacock blue, looked like something salvaged from a chic Milanese circus.


So many delightful paper products, so little time! A standout was Sukie‘s Rescued Paper Notebook, made entirely from discarded paper that has been collected and assembled by hand in India.


Although Hable Construction recently shuttered its lone retail outpost in Manhattan’s West Village, the company is still going strong. Shop online for Hable’s fantastic array of pillows. We can’t get enough of the signature beads and checkers prints.


Thanks to Cardboard Design, today’s children don’t need to wait for a washing machine purchase to have a corrugated spaceship (or fort, or playhouse). The company also designs furniture and accessories, and earned a fan in Frank Gehry after event planner David Monn used Cardboard Design products for the 2007 Guggenheim gala honoring the architect and cardboard aficionado.


Jonathan Adler, humble potter turned master of maximalist whimsy, debuted his new collection of enamel homethings, including curvy photo frames, napkin rings, trinket boxes, serving utensils, and petal-shaped bowls. Meanwhile, the table was set for the Jolie-Pitt brood, with placecards labeled “Maddox,” “Shiloh,” and “Pax.”


The function-meets-fine art love shack of Working Class Studio, a product development venture of the Savannah College of Art and Design, was adorned with Puffy Frames designed by SCAD grad Ashley Olson (BFA, fibers). Studio director Jonathan Ashley Osborne used the inflatable fabric frames to feature photos of new products, including Nikki Hartomo‘s drum lampshades.


The Lafco booth was a feast for the senses, with fragrant candles and soaps in exquisite packaging. Who could bear to tear open the old-school wrappers of those Claus Porto soaps?


We informed Kshocolat CEO Simon Coyle that his Glasgow-based company had won the UnBeige NYIGF Award for Best Packaging, a decision that we made well before sampling his wares.


Here, selections from the company’s Little Black Box line. Tasty and modular!


A Kshocolat bar beautiful enough to design a room around: creamy, smooth, and with a hint of vanilla.