Monday, May 3, 2010

BKLYN Designs: kidding around

By Joe Maniscalco

BKLYN Designs, the ne plus ultra of uber-hip contemporary furnishings, has been known for many things over its last eight years, but family-friendly hasn’t exactly been one of them.

The annual design showcase still isn’t like shopping at IKEA, but this year, the borough-centric display of contemporary furnishings and accessories appears to be making a concerted effort to appeal to a more domestic demographic.

Some designers are even featuring items specifically for children.
Kids figure largely in the work of April Hannah (pictured), a DUMBO designer who says her pieces were inspired by her desire to share playtime with her 6-year-old son.

“Most kids furniture is marketed to zero- to 3-year-olds,” she said. “You’re really limited in your choices. You’re either stuck with a table that’s too small for parents to sit at, or not enough surface area for kids to create large art projects.”

Housed at St. Ann’s Warehouse from May 7 through 9, this year’s show even includes a specially designed Kids Lounge exclusively devoted to fun and functional children’s furnishings.

Of course, some designers aren’t featuring kid-friendly pieces at all, but are confident that BKLYN Designs still has broad — even international appeal.

Urban glass designer William Couig’s graceful waterfall bookends and ornamental “mercury pools” are in no way kid-friendly — and that’s OK with him.

“It’s a local show but one with more of a big-time feel,” Couig says.

Designer AndrĂ© Joyau’s stainless steel lamps topped with handmade origami shades aren’t meant for tiny hands, but he does welcome the larger exposure that a homier BKLYN Design show offers.

“We always hope that the show is going to give us better exposure,” he says. “We’re always looking for new people.”

And that’s what BKLYN Designs delivers, said organizer Karen Auster.

“This show attracts design enthusiasts and first-time homebuyers,” she said. “It’s high-end design, not high-end prices.”

Brooklyn Designs at St. Ann’s Warehouse [38 Water St. between Main Street and Dock Street in DUMBO, (718) 243-1414], May 7-9. Tickets are $15 at the door. For info, visit

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Anonymous,  May 12, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

I am a design aficianado, Brooklyn resident and mother. I was at BKLYN design on Sunday- we go every year and enjoy it immensely. Not this year, however.

A comment on the exhibit being child friendly-- my 5 month old was very hungry and I went to a corner where there was no booth, and out of the way of others to feed her. I sat down on a random chair that was placed in the corner (it was not part of an exhibit), when a security guard came up and insisted I get up, she "needed the chair". Have you tried to stop feeding a hungry baby? I stood up and continued to feed the baby from a standing position. The security guard stood over the chair like it was the most precious piece of furniture and 5 minutes later, carried it into the press room. I could have sat on it for the 5 minutes it took to feed the baby. I did try to complain to the the guy in charge of security before I left, but didnt really get an apology. Happy Mother's day BKLYN Design! Child friendly indeed~!

They really should know better in a neighborhood filled with kids, and with the demographic they are trying to reach....

Anonymous,  May 15, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

I love the kid friendly furniture created by April Hannah. It is the perfect size for creating projects, playing games, eating and just having fun with my nieces an nephews;(ages 5-12). I am excited to see more of her work! Shirley Torrance

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