10 Striking Ideas from the Brooklyn Design Show

Concrete tables, delicate ceramics and playful motifs animate this weekend's expo. We offer a few of our favorites

Hovering over the show is Shadow Man, a 28-foot-long sculpture by the furniture design firm Naula. It was originally designed as seating (Photos by Steve Koepp and Lesley Alderman)

Innovative design is meant to be looked at, but meeting the people behind the objects adds extra depth to the experience. That’s the case at BKLYN DESIGNS, where more than 70 exhibitors are showing their furniture, tableware, lighting, textiles and jewelry this weekend at the Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble St., Greenpoint. The raw materials vary widely (steel, concrete, wood, glass, ceramic) as does the character, from industrial to delicately natural. The Bridge visited the show on its first day; here’s a sampling of our favorites.

(Editor’s Note: Readers of The Bridge can get a $5 discount on general admission tickets to BKLYN DESIGNS by using the code BKD-BRIDGE. The Bridge is a sponsor of the show.)

1. Vintage bones, richly intense new upholstery

brooklyn design

Gbenga Akinnagbe is an actor with a passion for furniture. Based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, he collects antique pieces, then finds new fabric that’s applied by local upholsterers. The effect is richly ornate, sometimes surreal, and always one-of-a-kind. His company, Enitan Vintage, which sells its products online, has a motto: “Sit on a Story.” Do tell!

2. Pink fluffy clouds, made of marble

brooklyn design

Frederick Tang is a Gowanus-based architecht who has ventured into furniture, rendering images from nature with wit and fine craftsmanship. These cloud tables have tops made of rosa aurora marble from Portugal, supported by base made of 5/16-inch steel plate cut with a water jet in Ridgewood, Queens.

3. Ceramics full of life and natural texture

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Japanese native Yuri Fukuda is an artist whose ceramics take multiple forms, including these delicate creations that seem as if they grew to life on the forest floor. She makes her pieces in Bedford-Stuyvesant under the brand name Emogayu, which her mischievously immersive website calls “a conceptual code name” for her many works in progress.

4. Wallpaper rich with artistry and animation

brooklyn design

Kim Brown, above, is a lawyer and artist who owns an art gallery and shop, Greenpoint Hill. At the design show, she debuted a line of wallpaper designed by Danielle Kroll and Gray Flores Design and printed by former Brooklynites operating as The Pattern Farm in Iowa.

5. Wood as a fluid concept

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Adam Zimmerman is an architect who draws inspiration from such classical shapes as the “catenary curve,” which is seen in many arched structures. Those sleek, organic lines inspire the furniture he makes under the brand name Ot/tra by Zimmerman Workshop. Crafted in Dumbo from fine woods, the pieces are decidedly high end. This barstool fetches $4,000 for the walnut version, made from 16 hand-carved pieces.

6. A stylish lounge for inclusive conversation

brooklyn design

AphroChic, specializing in “modern soulful style,” is an interior-design firm run by the husband-and-wife team of Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason. Their book Remix: Decorating with Culture, Objects, and Soul, was published by Penguin Random House, and they plan to launch an HGTV show called Sneak Peek With AphroChic. For the design show, they created the Design Against Hate Lounge to host conversation around the idea of “a new vision of an inclusive America.”

7. Industrial materials, elegantly put together

brooklyn design

Coming from a family of “hard working tradesman,” as his website declares, Joe Cauvel, above, carries on the tradition by melding steel, wood and concrete into elegant and often quirky furniture at his company Cauv Design in Red Hook. Exhibiting at BKLYN DESIGNS for the first time, he displayed items including a cleverly designed (but stable) three-legged stool.

8. A blend of technology and craft

brooklyn design

Belgian native Ariane van Dievoet trained at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and worked with a Brooklyn design studio before branching out on her own, creating a brand called Avandi. Her first collection was showcased at Milan Design Week in 2014. At the Brooklyn show, her work included these triangular nesting tables, with concrete tops cast in Brooklyn and metal legs made in Minnesota. The tables, designed for a “nomadic space,” can be combined in multiple ways.

9. Candles with a social conscience

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Keap Candles started with the premise that a lot of scented candles are made with cheap materials. So Stephen Tracy, above, and his business partner decided two years ago to launch a better-candle company, naming it after the Brooklyn street where they lived. But first they had to take perfumery classes and make test batches in their kitchens. Now they craft their candles in Industry City, offering such natural scents as Waves, Wood Cabin, and Green Market. For every candle sold, $1 goes to Solar Aid to provide solar-powered lights to people in Africa with no access to electricity.

10. Custom stairs for every situation

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JMP Wood Stairs & Rails is a custom-craft shop in Canarsie started more than 40 years ago by Joe Cangelosi and his family, who still run it today. They do their most creative work in special situations. A case in point is the “Stairosaurus,” above. Designed for cramped buildings, the design uses half the depth of a conventional staircase by alternating the depth of each step. The only catch: you have to start out on the right foot. Actually, in this case, the left foot.

Steve Koepp is the editor of The Bridge. Previously, he was editorial director of Time Inc. Books, executive editor of Fortune and deputy managing editor of Time.