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This year, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is celebrating its 28th anniversary at the Jacob Javits Center, showcasing some of the world’s truest talent in custom, luxury, and high-end handmade furniture. To learn more about this year’s show, the direction of the ICFF franchise, and the introduction of ICFF Miami, we spoke to the show’s director, Kevin O’Keefe.
WHITEWALL: Is there anything new can we expect from ICFF 2016? For a first-time visitor to the fair, what’s on your recommended “must-see” list?
KEVIN O’KEEFE: Well, that is very hard. There are over 200 new exhibitors, most from Europe and so many new designs and materials. Plus, most of the other almost 500 companies come to ICFF to introduce new concepts. Fortunately, the fair is walkable in day, so the visitor can take it all in. I would not miss ICFF Studio or ICFF Schools to take in some very unique presentations from our youngest design talents. Also, Luxe France is unique, as is the Italian Luxury Interiors pavilion of the HO.MI New York section.
WW:The ICFF Global Emerging Designers program is showcasing undiscovered talent from over 20 countries, including France, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Austria, and Spain. Are there any designers that we should be sure to keep our eyes open for?
KO: Yes, be sure and check out the Emerging Designers from France—very special.
WW: The best of this year’s design fairs will be featured in the “Best of Design Week” pavilion, including Tokyo Design Week and Barcelona Design Week. Tell us about this section.
KO: This is an entirely new initiative created as part of my role as a member of the NYCxDesign Steering Committee. A personal goal of mine is to make New York the “Global Design Metropolis” of the world. One initiative is to gather the several Design Week celebrations from around the world at ICFF and have them present to our audience their unique expression of creativity. ICFF 2016 is the start of what we hope will be a major section at ICFF in the future.
WW: Interior Design magazine and ICFF recently announced the NYCxDESIGN Awards—the first of its kind as an awards program celebrating New York City design, including areas like architecture, collectibles, craft, and technology. What are you looking for from the 10 awardees?
KO: The very best. Excellence in design innovation. There are 500 events submitting thousands of applications, judged by a panel of 30 really standout industry expects.
WW: ICFF Miami will debut in October at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Why is ICFF launching a Miami edition? What will be different about it in comparison to the New York edition?
KO: The Miami design market is the hottest, fastest growth luxury development center in the Americas. ICFF New York brings in attendees from this key market—but not in the numbers that are truly representative of its size. Bringing the best of ICFF to Miami will work to serve this robust center and the region it naturally attracts—the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the key South American markets. ICFF Miami will feature 200 exhibitors and attract between 3,500 to 4,000 architects, interior designers, developers, and luxury retailers.
WW: Other fairs, such as Maison et Objet, also started an addition in Miami two years ago. Is this a new trend you foresee for fairs to expand upon their national international reach?
KO:Maison & Objet Paris is, at heart, a gift and accessory show—very similar in make-up and attendance to our NYNOW Fair. Its extension in Miami mimics its larger parent closely. Attendees to Maison are consumers, and across the spectrum, smaller retailers. ICFF is about what’s best and what’s next in interiors and dedicated to trade. Architects, interior designers, developers, and luxury retail. I do expect that we could see new arrivals from Europe and Asia. Neither region is prospering, and in the case of Europe, it is actually suffering.
The luxury interiors market in the U.S. is strong and ICFF is this sector’s core and most important event. The success of this industry is reflected in the growth of the ICFF Fair. We have doubled in size over the last three years.
ICFF takes place May 14-17 in New York.