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Designlines Editorial Assistant Sophie Sobol covers Torontonian (and Canadian) design at this year’s NYC design tradeshow

Touching down in New York City with bright lights flashing, I’m in a design state of mind. I’m here for this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF 2024)—notably, the 30th anniversary of the event—and WantedDesign, the popular platform for emerging designers. The three-day event showcases the best in lighting, kitchen and bathroom products, wallcoverings, textiles, interior decor, and more, drawing in design experts from around the world, including home grown talent from their neighbour to the north.

ICFF 2024

ICFF celebrated its 30th year with a bustling show floor.

Arriving at the Javits Center in Hell’s Kitchen, I am besieged by bustling booths and bright faces. Among the exhibitors, The Oasis by Rodolfo Agrella, founder of RADS design group, offers a biophilic, cork-clad seating area; Zieta Studio — the Polish designers who held a fiery demonstration with a blowtorch at IDS in Toronto last January — boast their trademark blown steel stools; The Crossroads curated by Pei-Ru Keh in collaboration with ICFF brand directors and Rockwell Group showcases both up-and-comers and well-established American designers, and much more. While New York City is undoubtedly a “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”, unlike Alicia Keys in the iconic Jay-Z chart topper, my mission while exploring ICFF 2024 is to search for signs of home.

Hollis + Morris

Hollis + Morris showcase their new ocean-inspired light fixtures.

With a woodsy elegance, the familiar faces of Toronto’s own furniture and lighting brand Hollis + Morris, greet me near the show’s entrance. Known for their solid wood furniture and elegant lighting options—not to mention their commitment to sustainable practices—Hollis + Morris is a gem of the Toronto design community. The team recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary with the launch of the Oyster and Berm sconces, a timeless two-light collection inspired by the ocean, which made an appearance at ICFF, along with the newest Crest Dining Chair and debut upholstered line, The Riverside Collection, and new acrylic lighting covers for signage.

The Toronto-based artist draws inspiration from the Hollywood Regency style of exaggerated femininity.

Samantha Sandbrook discussing her works with Sophie Sobol.

Sandbrook used shades of seafoam and cornflower blue in her display at ICFF 2024.

As I sashay—Carrie Bradshaw-style—through the ICFF 2024 showroom, my next Torontonian encounter is with artist and interior designer Samantha Sandbrook. Original artworks in shades of seafoam and cornflower blue hang on the walls, rife with hidden messages: ‘Beware the Dogs’ for one, referring to the Hollywood casting couch. Playfully blending her distinctive contemporary art style with years of interior design experience, Sandbrook plays with high contrast colours and raw industrial materials.

Adding more Canadians in the mix, EQ3’s booth offers a rest for weary feet with a comfortable lounge area – and were also to thank for furnishing The Oasis nearby. Based in Winnipeg, the locally made furniture and accessory designer and manufacturer is a leader of contemporary Canadian design. Their booth displays their first fully upholstered chair launched in 2024, Aril, as well as their modular sofa system, Bird—with over 200 fabrics for both.

Moving through the fair, I come across two Quebec-based firms: lighting brand Luminaire Authentik and sustainable homeware designer Cyrc. With multiple showrooms across Canada including Toronto, Luminaire Authentik’s vibrant booth displays customizable lighting options from four material-based collections in a variety of Spring colours, from glossy guava to matte rhubarb.

Cyrc recycled PLA poufs and platers are both functional and unique.

With an organic design, Cyrc presents an array of recycled PLA poufs and planters from the HOUF collection, championing their sustainable ethos. Headquartered in Montreal, Cyrc is known for its circular design practice, which offers waste-free alternatives to traditional homeware production thanks to their traceable recyclable materials and a 3D printing process.

Studio Molo’s expandable moving walls create atmosphere.

The urchin softlight by Studio Molo create a welcoming ambiance.

Space partitioners come in an array of colours and sizes to fit any space.

Vancouver-based design and production studio Studio Molo draws in passersby with an enchanting maze-like arrangement of pleated corridors. Easily recognizable for their freestanding soft wall partitions, with alluring curved walls that can be moved and manipulated in any direction, the brand returns to ICFF after their inauguration 20 years ago to showcase their wood softwall and softblock systems. Looking to show a product that people wanted to touch and explore, the sense of wonder was palpable—especially in the “Sea Cave”, nicknamed for its sound dampening abilities, using a natural honeycomb structure.

Another Vancouver local catches my eye as I cross the floor; A-N-D Lighting. With innovative production methods and modern designs, the brand, which stands for “A New Detail”, really shines in person, showcasing the stunning Vale, Iris, and Column lights at their booth.

The Oasis combines both aesthetic appeal and a deep commitment to sustainability.

As I grab my final late-night slice of cheese pizza, throw on my “I <3 New York” tee and hail a cab for the airport, my time in this cosmopolitan city comes to a close. In this melee of international talent, Canadian designers can stand tall and proudly for their contributions to ICFF 2024.

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Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.

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