Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

A Small Look at the ICFF

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is going on in New York City this week. This is the third year in a row that I’ve attended, and while there has never been a shortage of beautifully crafted and designed furniture, the small space offerings have been pretty meager. ICFF exhibitors seem focused primarily on customers with unlimited budgets and square footage.

With the growing popularity of micro-apartments and small space living, I fared forth in high hopes this year. Unfortunately, the small-space offerings–with the few exceptions noted below–were few and far between. The fact is there is still big money in big spaces. There were, however, a few things that piqued my interest.

One of my favorite items was a modular piece of furniture by the company Cezign. It’s not small space designed per se, but the design could adapt to any space. The all-American made rectangles are covered in beautiful wool felt and can be configured in many different ways–from a bed to couch to…whatever. One small drawback (don’t laugh): They retail for $900…each. Considering you’d need three to six to make a functional piece of furniture, that’d add up quick.

Folditure–the exotic looking, super-thin-packing furniture company–has a new chair called the Tilt. When folded, it’s a mere .62″. The Tilt is slightly more conventional looking than the company’s other offerings. While the aesthetics might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the chair felt solid and its ability to hang in a closet is pretty nifty.

A company called Monstrans offered another flatpack chair made of bamboo ply. I was a bit suspicious of its sturdiness so I asked their representative about its weight load. He responded that it’s sold as an art piece, meaning it might not be the best seat in the house for your bigger friends. He did say that the chair has been subjected to a couple years of heavy use without problems, and it did feel solid.

Semi-Handmade makes high quality replacement doors for IKEA cabinets, which is to spaces big or small. When building the LifeEdited apartment, by far the most expensive material cost was the custom cabinetry. We know IKEA stuff isn’t the world’s best, but their prices are so compelling that many of us end up using the big blue’s cabinets anyway. Semi-Handmade’s doors feature natural veneers like walnut and reclaimed barn wood on top of MDF. They look pretty decent and with prices starting around 30% more than IKEA’s top of the line stuff (which aren’t that expensive), it’s can save you a ton over custom, while achieving a custom-quality look. Obviously this would work well for kitchen cabinetry, but also built-in cabinets for a small space.

Finally, there was Itsy Bitsy Ritzy Shop. As you might be able to glean from their name, IBRS makes high end furniture proportionate to small spaces. They make shallow banquettes with storage, tiny sofa beds, modestly proportioned dressers, under-bed storage drawers and more. On their site, they feature a fully functional 216 sq ft room–a sign that they are serious about small. Their furniture is all made in Connecticut out of solid wood (I didn’t catch the prices, but imagine they’re steep). What’s cool about IBRS is they treat small spaces as a legitimate places to live–not simply places to jam hand-me-down, oversized crap. This seriousness, we hope, is a sign of things to come.

This is by no means a full report of all the great stuff at ICFF–just one with the small space in mind. Let’s hope next year brings even more interesting designs for the compact home.