No other tradeshow comes close to matching the scale of the Salone del Mobile, which is exempt from the existential dilemma of growing its audience. NYCxDESIGN, on the other hand, continues to resist categorization as to whether it is expressly for the industry—designers, manufacturers, and retailers from around the world—or for the general public, i.e. folks who wouldn’t know the difference between an Aalto stool and its IKEA doppelgänger.
This is only the second year that those 10 days in the middle of May have been subsumed into the still-mercurial NYCxDESIGN brand. While each of the dozens of participating organizations, institutions, and companies has established itself in the ecosystem of New York Design Week, as a collective we face the conundrum of our identity as a whole.
It comes with the territory, in a way: the five boroughs are nothing if not a vibrant, pluralistic horizon of possibilities, and design is just one of many communities that thrive here. Frieze New York, which anchors the first weekend of NYCxDESIGN, represents an overlapping slice of the city’s cultural offerings, but it’s a prodigious pie: consider that ICFF draws only a tenth of the visitors of the Salone (30K vs. 300K) in a city that is six times more populous—a fraction of the 30% influx in Milan.
Of course, no design week compares to the Salone, and no other metropolis compares to New York City. If Milton Glaser’s sentiment is but a platitude by now, it’s worth noting that “I (heart) NY” originated as a pro bono project for a 1977 ad campaign. Just as New Yorkers certainly loved their city before they ‘hearted’ it, so too has the design community grown organically since before we became NYCxDESIGN.
The question, then, is where we go from here.
Ray Hu is the Managing Editor of Core77, the online magazine and resource for design, which is available in print for the first time ever this May. For four days from May 16–19, Core77 will design, produce, print and distribute the C77 Design Daily—find it at your favorite venues during NYCxDESIGN , including at WantedDesign in West Chelsea and Industry City/Design in Brooklyn.
NYCxDESIGN is New York City’s official citywide celebration of design. Spanning all disciplines of design, NYCxDESIGN creates a
collaborative platform for cultural and commercial opportunities, elevates established and emerging design practices, and increases awareness of and appreciation for design by all audiences. Information about NYCxDESIGN program will be available at the Design Concierge desk in the WantedDesign welcoming area.