With WantedDesign 2019 about to get underway in two distinct venues—Wanted Brooklyn at Industry City (May 16-20) and Wanted Manhattan at Terminal Stores (May 18-21)—we asked co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat about the fair’s theme, its new student design awards, and the second year of its bespoke Look Book at the Manhattan edition. The duo, both born in France, worked in the design and art fields before founding WantedDesign in 2011 to coincide with ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) in New York. The event is now an integral part of the annual NYCxDESIGN calendar.
Interior Design: How would you describe the 2019 theme of “Conscious Design” in the context of the Manhattan and Brooklyn editions of WantedDesign?
Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat: In 2018, “Conscious Design” was defined as a leading theme to present sustainable projects that foresee what the future can be, if supported by creative vision and smart decisions. In 2019, the notion of conscious design will be encouraged and more widely highlighted in the WantedDesign programming as it is an urgent and essential matter. Protecting the environment, achieving reasonable consumption, and reducing waste are all issues that designers face on their daily tasks to create our homes and our work spaces, in addition to bringing beauty to healthier living.
Facing climate change, evaluating the impact we have on our planet and on civilization itself, falls now more than ever under the scope of responsibilities of all designers and creatives at large. As event organizers, we have the opportunity to have a voice; these are issues that we want to address specifically and that we implement in the way we build the show itself in encouraging our exhibitors to embrace a zero-waste approach when producing their installation. Last year we were able to reduce our waste by 50 percent, and in 2019 our policy is the first item in the contract we send to our exhibitors.
The 2019 edition will challenge design professionals with original exhibits and showcases in order to forge their inspiration when drawing our future. Both destinations, Manhattan and Brooklyn, will include numerous educational (and fun) activities such as workshops, demos, and talks for the visitors and participants to connect, share, learn, and discover what should come next.
ID: What can student designers attending WantedDesign this year expect to gain from the different programming of the Brooklyn and Manhattan editions?
OH and CP: WantedDesign Brooklyn will have the Factory Floor dedicated to the Schools exhibit, with 30 schools coming from all over the world (France, China, Mexico, El Salvador, England, the United States, etc.). Now this show is becoming a not-to-be-missed destination to discover young talent. For the students, it’s a stepping stone to build up their professional network, which we know is essential.
Students will benefit directly from our ever-growing number of visitors, including design professionals and manufacturers. This year, for the first time, we have organized a jury to award the best design-student projects. It’s a way to highlight and support them even more. The jury will be led by Avinash Rajagopal, editor in chief of Metropolis, and includes Ayse Birsel, co-founder of Birsel + Seck; Andrea Lipps, assistant curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; and Jonsara Ruth, co-founder and design director of Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design.
Five Awards will be given to the following: Best Original Concept and Design, Best Sustainable Solution, Best Project with Social Impact, Best Ready-to-be-Implemented-or-Produced (Project or Product), and Best Conscious Design Project (that unites three of the four previous criteria). Those five students will benefit from special promotion, and this review is a chance to show their project to professionals who can help with constructive criticism and a real eye for design.
We are also hosting various activities and programming that will be learning experiences for the students. For schools, we are really building opportunities of exchange and partnerships, which is essential.
Lastly, we are partnering again with AIGANY to host the 3rd Spring Wanted Job Fair. It’s a “speed dating” format, not portfolio review, offering a chance for young designers to meet with creative firms.
ID: What can members of the trade attending WantedDesign this year expect to gain from the different programming of the Brooklyn and Manhattan editions?
OH and CP: In Manhattan, we always have a great presence of group exhibits from all over the world. This is really a unique feature of our show. This is how we share original design, new ideas, new material, new potential collaborations. Visitors will meet with Polish, Egyptian—for the first time in the U.S., and it’s a large group of 13 designers—Canadian, Mexican, and Colombian designers.
It’s also the second year of Look Book, a program dedicated to the promotion of the best high-end designers and makers in North America. This section of the show targets interior designers and architects who are looking for talented designers/makers with unique know-how to create bespoke pieces.
In the Launch Pad program, visitors will discover a large selection of 33 international designers, in two categories, furniture and lighting, who have a product ready to be launched in the U.S. market and are looking for the right partner to do it.
Wanted Interiors will explore the Future of Water/Bathroom 2025, a research project resulting from a collaboration between a team from Pratt Accelerator and the American Standard creative team, which is sponsoring this program. It involves how to change behaviors when using water, new scenarios and new ways to build bathroom for a sustainable urban living.
Last but not least, our talk series presented by DesignMilk and Clever is also a great focus for people who want to use WantedDesign as a resource and networking platform.