Always known for inspirational and striking designs, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair added some manufacturing inspiration this year with two active high-tech manufacturing demonstrations.

With more than 500 exhibitors from more than 30 countries spread out across the Javits Convention Center in New York City, the show included a wide selection of furniture and cabinetry design combined with lighting, textiles, and a growing contingent of bathroom fixtures companies. Styles ranged from very traditional wood furniture to many pieces showing off mixed media in metal, plastics, ceramics, wood, concrete, and tile. Several exhibitors showed off products made from recycled or reclaimed materials.

High-tech manufacturing

But this year, two exhibits focused as much on the manufacturing as the design. SCM Group North America set up a fully functional SCM Tech Z5 CNC machining center to demonstrate its capabilities in furniture manufacturing. The machine was carving out scale car models in wood of a new Pininfarina hybrid car design. In addition, a display next to the CNC machine showed off the “Vaulted Table,” a sculptural design by London-based Bloomlab Architecture & Design.

The display was part of “I Wood Like – Handmade and Digital Crafting,” an event done by SCM Group in conjunction with Federiegno Arredo and Culturalegno (a cultural association that promotes the culture of wood and traditional handcrafted and artistic woodworking).

This was SCM’s first appearance at ICFF, and a spokesman noted, “The I Wood Like event is a concrete and practical demonstration of how an idea for a chair, a table or an item of furniture becomes a finished product and how this can provide an excellent opportunity for many young people in the future; all this with the help of technology. A unique and extraordinary opportunity where woodworking machinery will be taken into one of the most recognized furniture fairs in the USA, representing the best of Italian and international manufacturing for the first time ever.”

Let there be lasers

Designer Tom Dixon teamed up with TRUMPF Inc. to demonstrate how laser manufacturing technology could be used to make lamps that Dixon had designed. The distinctive multifaceted metal lamps were fabricated from parts cut from sheet metal by TRUMPF laser machines. Parts were further shaped in a brake and then finally assembled by hand.

The demonstration, which included two booths, won the ICFF Editors Award for Multiple Production.

IKEA partnership

Another Editors Award in the Kitchen and Bath category went to an interesting cabinetry and manufacturing partnership. Semihandmade manufactures custom kitchens, but instead of making the cabinet boxes themselves, they base all their kitchens on cabinets and drawers from IKEA. Then they add their own custom doors and drawer fronts.

They also add custom features to their kitchens that are not available from IKEA. For example, at ICFF they showed up an example of the Proximity Kitchensystem, a kitchen work center based on an extra large stainless steel sink. Various fixtures such as cutting boards, food prep surfaces and trays can mount on rails over the sink for efficient processing and cleanup.

Recurring themes

In general, the show evidenced a number of recurring themes. Mixed media was a continuing trend in evidence in many booths as designers combined diverse materials to make a statement. Metal, wood, plastic, concrete, tile and other ceramics were in evidence. Recycled materials were popular.

In booths where wood furniture was on display, natural or “live” edge tables were popular, such as work by Palo Samko in Brooklyn, NY, and Sentient Furniture, also with a workshop based in Brooklyn.

One also couldn’t help but notice the increasing floor space devoted to plumbing fixtures at the show. Infinity Drain won an Editors Award in the Kitchen and Bath category. Major companies such as Kohler were joined by a host of boutique bathroom fixture suppliers, showing the increasing importance of design in bathroom plumbing, cabinetry, and fixtures in the modern home.

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