Sometimes the visual dynamic of New York, and Manhattan in particular, can be too much -- too much a jumble, or a clash of priorities and styles, a cavalcade of dissonance. But sometimes, something comes into view that re-orders the environment so much that it both jars the visual ecology and redefines it.
That happened yesterday when I saw three large brightly colored metal shipping containers stamped CHARACTER PROJECT on the front and back sitting in various public spaces in Manhattan.
Plopped down into high-traffic public pavilions, these boxes captured the attention and altered the impact of the space they occupied. But because they were there as pop-up movie theaters, meant to feature eight shorts commissioned by the USA Network and RSA Films (Ridley and Tony Scott's company), they did more than visually affect the street dynamic -- they became site-specific gallery spaces as well.
Having started Friday, May 13, this cinematic experience can be found in Manhattan throughout this weekend, continuing today (Saturday, May 14) through Sunday, May 15, from 10am-10pm at three locations: Gansevoort Plaza (9th Ave between Gansevoort and Little W 12th Streets); Flatiron Plaza, Broadway between 22nd & 23rd Streets; and South Street Seaport (Fulton between Water and Front Streets). These containers will eventually move to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago throughout the summer.
Somehow, the impact of these containers on the visual ecology stirred further musings about how a strong graphic statement alters something as prosaic as a public walk space.
And that has led me to muse on today's start of the annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair -- the long-standing exhibit/conference held in the Jacob Javits Center that runs from 10 am today through Tuesday, May 17th. This event also heralds Design Week in Manhattan.
Inside the Javits, the ICFF exhibitors take up 145,000 net square feet with 500 exhibitors displaying contemporary furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, materials, wall coverings, accessories, textiles, and kitchen and bath for residential and commercial interiors.
This throng re-defines the Javits space, offers an unparalleled view of recent design developments from all over the globe and presents a broad selection of the world's best, most innovative, and original objects for the home, office, or any space for that matter.
Though the ICFF is mostly for industry insiders, the closing day, Tuesday, May 17th from 10 am - 4 pm, is open to the general public as well.
Simultaneously, on various streets, such as Tribeca's Franklin Street, and pockets throughout Manhattan such as the NoHo [north of Houston Street] design district -- and even some of the other boroughs -- stores and firms band together to host open houses, receptions and celebration of their wares.
All of this makes for plenty of excellent opportunities to follow spring cleaning with a design makeover.