Every spring, after taking over Milan, the design world descends on New York City for a month(ish)-long celebration of all things home, interiors, and decor. And while there are always dozens of exciting new releases and gorgeous new exhibits, there’s one show that’s always on the forefront of what’s new and next: Sight Unseen Offsite.
Hands down, it’s always our favorite design month event, and this year, we got a sneak peek at the curated collection of independent designers that co-founders Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer brought together, along with five of their favorite up-and-coming trends.
Thick, tubular forms
The ‘70s are back, and chunky shapes and fat silhouettes are here to prove it. “This trend has percolating for awhile,” says Khemsurov, nothing that the abundance of fatter forms is connected to the resurgence of 1970s-inspired design.
Pieces like the Norway x New York sofa by Objects of Common Interest and Falke Svatun read as playful, but not silly. “They’re really sophisticated and sleek.” In many ways, this oversized trend falls within the maximalism camp because, as Khemsurov notes, “There’s this sense that it’s unnecessary.”
Thin metal-framed chairs with upholstery
Graphic, geometric seating is making a statement. “It’s a corollary to the thick tubular forms,” says Khemsurov, noting that designers are combining lighter volumes with upholstery to soften them up so they feel more comfortable. In some instances, like with the collection from Studio Say/So on display at Offsite, these pieces are easier to manufacturer, and the textiles can be more easily swapped to create an endless array of designs. “It adds a timelessness,” she says.
Fringy, hairy things
Khemsurov points out that while maximalism is having a resurgence, minimalism hasn’t gone away—both are happening right now. “A lot of times how people play with that balance is through texture. The form is still quite minimal, but the texture adds personality that sort of takes it away from minimalism. It’s a way for designers who have an eye for minimalism to do maximalism.”
She adds, “A lot of designers we know grew up in the throes of minimalism, and the way that they go outside of those boundaries is by mixing materials and playing with textures.”
Domino named string the material of the moment in our spring issue, but is this a trend that’s going to stick around? “The thing about hairy and fringy is that there is such a spectrum,” says Khemsurov. “You can get really crazy hairy stuff that looks like a muppet, or you can have shearling that’s super sophisticated. When you get into wild muppet territory, maybe it won’t have staying power, but there are people doing it in a really sleek way.”
“Our favorite project in Milan [Guise by Odd Matter] was using automotive paint, then we realized it was in our show as well,” says Khemsurov, noting that car paint gives pieces a depth that you can’t really compare to anything else. Pieces by Müsing–Sellés, Christopher Stuart and Julia Dault, and Jumbo all feature automotive paint. It’s a rich, colorful, sleek finish that lends an iridescent look that’s so eye-catching, it becomes the focus of the piece.
“It’s a super saturated color, that still looks super sophisticated and slick,” says Khemsurov. “You get an elevated feel that you can’t get with powder coating.”
Yes, glass is trending. The of-the-moment designers featured at Offsite—John Hogan, Nina Cho, Thaddeus Wolfe, to name a few— are marrying form and function in a way that elevates glasswork into an art form.
“For a long time, the glassblowers were just technicians or craftspeople,” notes Khemsurov. “In design right now, glass is occupying a space in between those things. It’s not only about being a functional craft that’s for hire, and it’s not only about being this crazy artistic thing where people are just showing off skills. Now it’s a real design medium.”