ICFF completes 35th year under new direction

June 4, 2024

(USA) – North America’s contemporary design fair concluded its 35th edition, and its first under brand directors Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat. ICFF’s bold redesign, colour-coded spaces on the show floor, diverse programming, and curated approach brought 13,000 attendees. Qualified buyers came in over 10,000, up 8% over the previous year.

“With a full year as brand directors, we implemented key elements for a successful design fair, merging culture and commerce with a focus on design. This approach has been central to WantedDesign since its inception and is now applied to ICFF,” says the show’s brand directors Hainaut and Pijoulat.  “We remained creative in our efforts to build and re-establish this event at the forefront of the international scene. ICFF is more than just a place to source products; it has become a vibrant meeting point for industry leaders. The U.S. market is dynamic and offers significant growth opportunities. ICFF stands out as the premier fair and year-round organisation dedicated to helping the industry thrive.”

Over three days, ICFF hosted more than 450 established and emerging design brands representing 35 countries worldwide, presenting furniture, materials and textiles, lighting, flooring and rugs, kitchen and bath, wallcoverings, and assorted objects for commercial, residential, and hospitality environments.

More than 100 design changemakers and emerging talents participated in over 40 diverse panel sessions, keynote presentations, and intimate talks across the Main Stage, the Oasis, the Bespoke Salon, the Water Studio x Grohe, and the Look Book Lounge.

New additions for 2024 show included:

  • Bespoke: The Art of Making, presented with AD PRO, celebrated the skill and expertise of high-end artisans.
  • The Library, in partnership with global book publisher Phaidon, hosted activations for the new release Designed for Life: The World’s Best Product Designers and a curated library.
  • OFS x ROOM launched a podcast with the leading voices in global design discussing the ideas reshaping how we live and work. Guests included: Giulio Cappellini, Luca Nichetto, and Lee Broom among others.
  • Dedicated areas for complementary products such as Materials and Kitchen & Bath, featuring The Water Studio x Grohe Lounge with talks from NKBA and Designhounds.
  • Design Schools Workshop, presented with Honda Design: This collaborative, 4-day course featured a selection of 35-40 international design students working together on a creative solution to a brief. This year, the theme was “The Desired Future of the Next Generation”.

Further highlights included the newest iteration of The Crossroads exhibition focussed on sustainability. In a collaboration between ICFF, David Rockwell, Rockwell Group, and co-curator and editor Pei-Ru Keh, this edition put a spotlight on the way designers seek to preserve long-honoured craft traditions, together with how they push the boundaries of circularity to consciously re-think the legitimacy of material use.

Formerly WantedDesign Manhattan, WANTED was a destination for discovering new talent around the world and a place to engage with a diverse professional network and initiate new collaborations. This year, WANTED continued to support the next generation of design professionals through:

  • Look Book, with 64 total participants and special activations in the Look Book Lounge x Canoa.
  • Launch Pad, with 69 total participants, including the two Best of Launch Pad winners from 2023.
  • Schools Showcase featuring 20 international schools and students.
  • Design Schools Workshop, presented with Honda Design and in partnership with Pratt Institute.
  • WANTED Lounge x Lumens, a central meeting area during the fair.

During the event, darc’s editor attended some of the lighting-related talks, including ‘Blurring the Boundaries Between Design, Art, and Commercialisation’. To celebrate the release of Phaidon’s ‘Designed for Life: The World’s Best Product Designers’, panellists Lindsey Adelman, Founder and Designer, Lindsey Adelman Studio, and Minjae Kim, Designer, discussed blurring the boundaries between design, art, and commercialisation. Herman Miller brand creative director Kelsey Keith – who wrote the book’s intro – moderated the talk and discussed creativity and commerce with several of the designers featured.

Secondly, ‘How Different Countries Design Sustainably’ was the topic of discussion between Thor-Anders Lundh Håkestad, CEO, Lundhs AS; David Trubridge, Designer; Pei-Ru Keh, Co-curator, The Crossroads; and moderated by Annie Block, Executive Editor, Interior Design. The group discussed how our design choices must protect the planet, but cultural attitudes, economic realities, and customer preferences can shape the approaches we take. The trio of design professionals who work on different continents talked about how sustainability plays out in their work and areas of the world, from processes to products to end-of-life disposal.

At the Oasis, ‘The How and Why of Becoming B Corp Certified’ was hosted by Avi Rajagopal, Editor-in-Chief, Metropolis. B Corp Certification involves a third party measuring a company’s entire social and environmental impact. It’s voluntary and can be time-consuming, so why do it? David Shove-Brown, Partner, //3877; Josh Ward, Co-founder, Tala; and Sara Berks, Founder and CEO, MINNA explained the reasons they went through the process and the worth—both economic and personal—they have derived from it.

On the final day, designer Lee Broom took to the Main Stage with podcast host Dan Rubinstein of The Grand Tourist, to talk about ‘Creativity, Craft, and Conquering the U.S.’ Since founding his eponymous company in London in 2007, Broom has designed more than 100 lighting products, furniture pieces, and accessories. All reinterpret classic styles in unexpected ways, containing moments of drama, surprise, and narrative. Broom elaborated on how his unexpected background feeds his practice and how America became his largest market.

Each year, ICFF awards exhibitors with best stands, concepts and products. This year’s winner of the ICFF Editors award in the lighting category was Stickbulb, and the lighting winner in the Best of Launch Pad was Another.World.

“As a result of our team’s efforts over the past year, the show floor is better curated, featuring design brands that are contemporary and original, with a balanced mix between US and international, emerging and well-known brands. The floorplan is well-designed, making it more digestible and easier to navigate, with multiple destinations to discover new products under one roof.  The programming is rich, inviting the audience to engage in conversations on diverse topics and high-quality content with global impact. The overall show experience has improved, welcoming visitors with fresh, bold branding, better signage, colour-coded features, and multiple designed areas for lounging, socialising, and networking. Additionally, the ICFF Editors Awards ceremony was more entertaining this year, thanks to our new master of ceremony, Dan Rosen,” continues Hainaut and Pijoulat.

“Congratulations on another incredible year at ICFF. It was a thrill to see the fair so busy and full of energy. We really enjoyed working with the ICFF team to make The Crossroads come to life,” states David Rockwell, Founder and President, Rockwell Group.

Dates for ICFF 2025 are set for May 18-20, 2025.