Design show returns to DUMBO

After two years, the BKLYN DESIGNS show came back to Brooklyn this past weekend, specifically to St. Ann’s Warehouse.

The show, which features exhibits by more than 35 Brooklyn-based furniture, lighting, ceramics, tabletop and other home-based designers, was sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, with support from the West Elm furniture store, New York magazine, inHabitat magazine and others.

Several speakers, including Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura and Borough President Marty Markowitz, noted that this year’s show was the kickoff for NYCx Design Week. This, they said, is yet another indication that Brooklyn is now “the” place to be when it comes to fashion and the arts.

“Brooklyn is now bigger, better and hotter than ever,” he said.

“After I took over the Chamber,” said Scissura, who previously served as Markowitz’s chief of staff, “I said that once of my first priorities was to bring back the BKLYN DESIGNS show. We almost didn’t do it this year because of [Superstorm] Sandy, but we did it.”

Markowitz noted that within the past two years, the area has gained 60,000 residents, many with large amounts of disposable income that could be spent on curtains, lamps, tabletops and so on. Even during the few years when BKLYN DESIGNS wasn’t held, the borough president continued, Brooklyn designers exhibited prominently at the “big show” at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
Most of the designers make custom-made articles that are sold through their own websites or through several small stores.

Dhaz Dziewior of Chara designs guitar or keyboard amplifiers, all of which are tube-based, rather than solid-state, amps. Asked how he could compete with Fender or Gibson, he answers that each amp is custom-made, with specifications given by the individual musician. Several of his amps, he added, are used by musicians in local bands.

Aroopy, headed by Ainsley Yuen, designs covers for ottomans (also known as hassocks). Among the designs are the British flag, a map of the New York subway system and a map of the London subway system.

Bower Studios, which was founded just last year, makes what used to be called track lighting. However, instead of metal, the lights are enclosed in wood. The units are wall-mounted.

Dog Tag Designs “re-purposes” old appliances to new uses. For example, the company uses an old dial phone as the base of a lamp. It also displayed a table whose base was an old bicycle. The items are custom-made.