A newcomer on the art-fair circuit, Future Fair’s 2022 edition was on view at the Chelsea Industrial in New York City last weekend. Wanting to create a “capsule-sized exhibition” the fair’s organizers sought to find a way to participate in the global art market in a carefully considered way. Guided by the core values of transparency and equitability, the Future Fair’s approach has brought together diverse groups of exhibitors for two years running.
2022 marks the Future Fair’s first venture into exhibiting collectible design. Curated by Julia Haney Montanez, the in-show design exhibition Alien Days makes reference to the present nature of what collectible design looks like. Haney Montanez brings years of experience as a design curator, advisor and writer — including several years as Curator At Large for the Architectural Digest Design Show — to the Future Fair.
For Alien Days, Haney Montanez brought together work from eight different studios to create an exhibition experience that feels simultaneously unfamiliar — or “alien” as per the show’s title — and welcoming. The curator explains that the exhibition offers not a glimpse into the future but rather a peek into “a parallel reality of singular design works in the traditional context of a living room.” Placing collectible design in a proxy domestic space brings out the otherworldliness of the pieces on view and provides an accessible entry point to contemplate them.
Though the pieces have been expertly compiled to create an immersive experience for fair visitors, each piece is a notable work of collectible design in its own right. Here are five standouts that would make a welcome addition to any design collection:
The Lyndon Chair is Aleiya Olu’s first piece of furniture design. The chair is a simple, playful throne-like design that creates a dialogue between Michigan’s mid-century modernism and the often surrealist feeling of modern-day Detroit. Olu undertook an independent study of industrial design and ergonomics, which has resulted in a practice that features pieces that have a familiar, comforting feel while being visually striking and often avant-garde. Each Lyndon chair is assembled by hand, made of cherry oak and polished off in a custom satin finish, which gives the wood a subtle glow that the designer explains is a reference to “Brown skin under the warmth of the sun.”
Hannah Vaughan’s practice is based on transforming waste materials into poetic objects. With her Crushed series, Vaughan creates pieces sited in the future from what would then be the “debris of humanity’s past industriousness.” Using sheer force and a hydraulic press, the designer transforms ventilation tubing, discarded oil barrels, chromed car fenders, corrugated roofing material, shells of washing machines and mangled metal shelving into pieces that leave visitors thinking about our industrial landscapes and production of trash.
The floating shelf on view is part of Ian Cochran’s Plump series, which originated from the designer’s interest in resin. Cochran often works with resin and fibreglass composites — materials not typically used in the world of art furniture. The shelf’s components are held together by a series of grooves and notches (in a Japanese-joinery-esque fashion), and does not require any additional fastening.
Part of Swell Studio’s Taba collection, the Taba wall sconce is an exploration of materials held in the studio’s collection. The design for the sconce was inspired by the sunrises over desert landscapes — in particular, how it rises over the territories that the Ute and Paiute peoples inhabited. The piece, which was hand-crafted in Swell’s studio in Saugerties, New York, brings the outdoors in with its subtle formal reference to the natural world.
Led by designer Quincy Ellis, Facture Studio is a contemporary furniture company that uses resin to fabricate its pieces. The featured desk and stool were made using the MELD technique, which gives them the illusion of being perpetually in motion when perfectly still. The novel fabrication technique creates a variation in the saturation of pigment throughout both the desk and matching stool, which results in light refracting through the resin in unique patterns, giving the pieces a dream-like effect.
Curator Julia Haney Montanez brought together works from eight studios for Alien Days, the first design-centric exhibition presented at the sophomore edition of Future Fair in New York.