By: Anne Martin

Hotly anticipated each year, ICFF is a darling of design shows for good reason. Products with a high Clever, Thoughtful and Simple (in the truest and best sense of the word) quotient are woven in — mosaic-like — with ingenious inventions, daring left-of-center designs, and materials repurposed for imaginative new uses.

Cosmopolitan Glass & Metal’s tantalizing selection.

Cosmopolitan Glass & Metal’s tantalizing selection.

What I’ve always loved about ICFF is its democracy. Walking the show is like strolling through a quirky neighborhood with delightfully loose zoning laws: impressive mansions neighbor clusters of colorful bungalows, kitty-corner from a stunning studio apartment. Folks from storied companies like Lincrusta chat over the backyard fence with the sister duo residing at S.A.M. 1.0.

Live design demo at S.A.M. 1.0.

Live design demo at S.A.M. 1.0.

First-timer Jeffrey Douglas looked smashing in a jewel box of a booth, making a very big statement in a very small space. York Wallcoverings edited its world class selection, the largest in North America, to a few materials-rich cork, Mylar, metallic flock and recycled glass bead beauties. Peter Sandback’s work-in-progress demo table nearly stole the spotlight from his stunning selection of hand-hammered, nail-bejeweled case goods (I saw more than one person ask him the cost of the in-process piece). Roros redefined tweed; Garden on the Wall was a virtual breath of fresh air; and Molo gave visitors an impossible-to-resist interactive experience, forever altering one’s aesthetic and functionality perception of the most utilitarian of materials, cardboard.

Roros Tweed feels far from tweedy

Roros Tweed feels far from tweedy.

Exhibitors and show organizers delivered on their promise to showcase the best of contemporary design. Show goers, a reliably chic and fashion-forward bunch, enhanced the eye candy experience. But this is no Candy Land. ICFF delivered as much substance as style, on all levels.

 Sandback’s demo table…

Sandback’s demo table…

...and a finished piece.

…and a finished piece.