A Few Gift Fair Favorites

Irwin Weiner ASID -- The recent New York International Gift Fair here in NYC was at times inspiring and other times exasperating. Inspiring: many new designs, top designers producing creative product, a renewed sense that the industry is starting an economic rebound with orders up in the 6 weeks prior to the show. Exasperating: much of the same old stuff, some very substandard products, a "Handmade" section being overrun by jewelry.



I liked the condensed home goods at Pier 94, instead of spilling over to a number of piers as in the past, but I wished the Pier was open for the full length of the show (it closed early on the penultimate day of the exhibits). It was lovely to see the strong international focus of the Fair, too, with 300 suppliers from 38 countries, many clustered for convenient browsing.

Here are some of the items and vendors who caught my eye at the August 15-20 Fair:


Middletons Old World Library Collection offers great service for homes with empty bookshelves. They offer beautiful antique books and can also specially cover books in colors that match any color scheme or decor to turn ordinary books into design accessories, a fun and unique service.


I liked the new Chinoiserie Pillow Shams from Dwell Studio, strong and bold with its super-sized design.


How opulent! Rani Arabella has cashmere pillows and throws that are gorgeous and luxe.


Home, James! East Hampton has a sumptuous assortment of casual dinnerware, tabletop accessories, and even classic striped beach towels. I couldn't resist their Chinatown patern, with clever updates of the traditional chinoserie patterns. Pictured above: the Chinatown Ice Bucket/Wine Cooler and Large Octagonal Platter.


Architects & Heroes is an Austin, TX lighting supplier that's been perfecting "steampunk" new Victorian looks in lighting for the past 10 years. This cool Craftsman two-light pulley system is typical of lighting that's fun as well as versatile (hang them over the dining room table, a desk or work surface, or an island). I also love their Abbey and Cloister lines of pendant lights, which exude crisp elegance with thick frosted glass shades wrapped in aged brass cages, ideal for an ethnic or mid-century modern interior.


The new home textiles collection from Bulgar is simple, sumptuous, all-natural, and employs women in a depressed part of Bulgaria in exemplary social-conscious ways. I marveled at the natural, non-dyed creams, taupes, beiges, and browns! And don't forget that Bulgar is a wonderful tabletop source, with a line of ceramics that preserves the traditional pottery techniques and designs of Bulgaria (so chic for any decor).



I admire the way Desu Design lives up to its mission of blurring the line between art and design by creating home furnishings and accessories that are both functional and lovely to look at. The LR-1 Sofa Bench combines a table surface, storage, and a bench wide enough to accommodate an overnight sleeper . . . in style!



If pillows were an Olympic sport, Dransfield and Ross would keep winning gold medals. This beautiful Helsinki leaf pillow if but one of many outstanding designs we saw at their Pier Show booth. The continuing success of their line is well deserved, and my idea of a completely decadent room would be a space completely piled high with their pillows.



Totally fresh and fun, not to mention completely daft, the Bouquet furniture and accessory collection from P & F features bejeweled metal flowers forming everything from dining and center hall tables to mirrors and console tables. Check out their other collections for more floral artistry in metal -- and take advantage of the hot trend in florals this year.


For art resources, it's hard to beat the cutting-edge material coming from Natural Curiosities. This is not your mother's source for starving artists' oil paintings to hang over the sofa as shown above: Alison Rundle Clark's marvelous watercolor Fruits 2.