Grit and Glamour in New York: Helen Griffen on NYCxDESIGN


For Antipodean designers, it is near impossible to keep up with the design world’s major events in Milan, Paris or London.

New York City’s NYCxDESIGN is the latest addition to the calendar of pilgrimage-worthy, annual design festivals. Now in its seventh iteration, this relative newcomer has gained serious international traction over the past few years.

Helen Griffen, associate and senior interior designer at Sydney integrated design practice Scott Carver, is among the thousands who travelled to experience the festival this year. As Scott Carver’s Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FF&E) specialist, Helen selects the furniture and accessories which bring the soul to a project.

“Prior to my relocation to Australia, I specialised in FF&E design in London, New York, Los Angeles and Boston,” Griffen said.

“Keeping my finger on the pulse of international design is paramount; knowing about the latest products and how they translate to the Australian market is what sets our projects apart.”


Having spent the past week at NYCxDESIGN, Griffen talks through her highlights.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair

“As the long-standing anchor event, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is unmissable for me. Running now for over 30 years, ICFF is North America's largest platform for global design, mapping the frontier of what’s next in furniture and interiors.”

Eny Lee Parker

“At ICFF I headed straight to spatial designer Eny Lee Parker. Huge on Instagram, Parker creates objects, furniture and lighting using clay as her core material,” Griffen said.

“The booth included large rounded clay lamps, moulded clay furniture, light sconces, a beautiful hand carved rug and her boucle stitch stools.

“Parker’s work is a celebration of craft with consideration, intention and a true respect for natural resources. Her compelling sense of proportion and scale speaks to our hyper-visual culture and her pieces are not just static compositions, but tactile art pieces.”


“I have a particular penchant for lighting and NYC happens to be a breeding ground for exceedingly talented lighting designers,” Griffen said.

“There were more original and experimental stands than I can mention but the highlights were Luke Lamp Co’s rope lights, modular rectilinear forms from Stickbulb, willows in bloom by Hollis and Morris and coloured glass pendants by Niche.

“Given the recent emphasis in high-end commercial and residential design for decorative feature lighting, it was exciting to see many new brands not yet present in the Australian market.”



“Canadian design studio Molo had an anchor stand at the entry of the show, and for good reason. Their modular paper softwall system, seating and light features were breathtaking,” Griffen said.

“Functioning as single system to customise otherwise-open floor plans with spaces for private discussions or solo work, this flexible honeycomb structure can expand, contract, and bend.

“Made of flame-retardant microplated recycled paper, the material's surface is designed to compress from repeated use and its components connect via magnetic side panels. This product is the finally the answer to beautiful screen walls.”


Independent showrooms and exhibitions

“I squeezed in independent showrooms and exhibitions visits where I could, including The Future Perfect’s Casa Perfect, a gallery space in a converted West Village townhouse,” Griffen said.

“On display were Brooklyn-based design duo Chen Chen and Kai Williams and their work was an absolute highlight. Lighting studio Rich Brilliant Willing opened their Soho showroom for the debut of its latest presentation, ‘Patterns of Light’, a testament to RBW’s stellar ten years of work.

“Studios Calico Wallpaper and Workstead’s collaborative installation within the historic arcade of the neoclassical Merchants Square Building in Tribeca was an apt nod to the history of the space.”

Griffen said several clear themes emerged during the many exhibitions and events peppered around the city for NYCxDESIGN 2019.

“Nostalgia, tactility and craft sat comfortably alongside technical, machined and modern, affirming global design trends seen at Salone del Mobile Milano.”

Set within one of the greatest cities in the world, NYCxDESIGN allows visitors an insight into the places and products which influence and inspire the creative community.

“It is a must-see for anyone looking to discover the latest work from established and emerging North American designers,” Griffen said.

The Urban Developer is proud to partner with Scott Carver to deliver this article to you. In doing so, we can continue to publish our free daily news, information, insights and opinion to you, our valued readers.

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