Each May, design aficionados like me look forward to the annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, a four-day extravaganza where more than 800 exhibitors from around the globe display the latest furniture, lighting, flooring, and every other imaginable product for residential and commercial interiors. There’s always a number of talented designers and manufacturers putting American hardwood to creative use, and this year was no exception. Here are three items that caught my eye.
Aronson Woodworks, a custom workshop near Des Moines, Iowa, makes handsome residential furniture, much of it utilizing white ash sourced from local trees threatened by the ongoing infestation of emerald ash borer. Aronson’s beautifully crafted pieces are made even more striking by CLAIZE™, a patented finishing technique, developed in-house, in which the natural grain lines in the wood are stained a different color from the solid background, creating a dramatic, etched effect. Although a dazzling array of custom color combinations is offered, I was particularly taken with Tidal, which juxtaposes a deep navy grain with a chalky white field for a subtly striated look that recalls 19th-century photogravure. It lent added visual richness to the boldly graphic Criss solid-ash dining table, elevating the piece to the level of art furniture.
Those of us that live in space-challenged New York City apartments are always looking for light, easy-to-move, flexible-use chairs that also sturdy yet stylish. The Soren Chair, designed by John Sorensen-Jolink for the New York–based furniture studio Coil + Drift, checks all those boxes. The elegantly pare-down chair comprises a simple, four-leg hardwood frame supporting a leather seat and a bold, semi-circular backrest that’s also lined with a strip of leather. The effect is as airy and graphic as an artist’s line drawing. It makes sense that Sorensen-Jolnink, a former dancer, has created a piece that’s both weightless and powerful—the very qualities once demanded of him as a performer. Available in ash or oak in a variety of stains, and with tan or black leather, the Soren Chair is something of a chameleon that will fit readily into many different residential settings.
As any designer will tell you, minimalist furniture is difficult to pull off. There a few decorative or applied elements to draw the eye away from common furniture faults: poor proportions, indifferent craftmanship, inferior materials, sloppy finishes, and similar inadequacies. At ICFF, Armada New York, a full-service furniture design and fabrication studio based in the Brooklyn, rightly claimed that the successful minimalism of its Gen Line of desks, tables, and cabinetry “is only possible through thoughtful design and solid, well-crafted joinery.” In particular, the Gen Credenza, a gorgeous piece in solid oak with impeccably judged lines and an extraordinarily rich oxidized finish, showed the company realizing its admirable goal of “adapting traditional joinery to a modern aesthetic—and, just as important, modern manufacturing processes.”
Aronson Woodworks, LLC
2372 Illinois Street
Prole, IA 50229
Coil + Drift
100 West 14th Street, Third Floor
New York, NY 10011
Studio and workshop visits by appointment only.
Amada New York
141 Flushing Ave
Building 77 Unit 404, 4th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11205