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BDNY Heads Back to NYC Better Than Ever

By Stef Schwalb

The bright lights of the big city were more vibrant this past November with the arrival of the annual Boutique Design New York (BDNY) event, which saw a significant bump in attendance—65% overall compared to 2021, coupled with a 61% increase in qualified buyers and a 47% increase in exhibitors. This year the space was buzzing with attendees thrilled to gather once again face-to-face during a (shall we say…) less arduous time. With 47 countries represented and more than 13,000 architects, brand execs, designers, developers, manufacturers and other industry pros on hand at the Javits Center, the future of hospitality is looking pretty bright.

BDNY welcomed more than 13,000 attendees this year consisting of architects, brand execs, designers, developers, manufacturers and other industry pros. The global presence was significant as well with 47 countries represented onsite.

BDNY welcomed more than 13,000 attendees this year consisting of architects, brand execs, designers, developers, manufacturers and other industry pros. The global presence was significant as well with 47 countries represented onsite.

Courtesy of BDNY

Of course, lighting is leading the way in many respects, from the range of gorgeous fixtures we found to its use in elevating overall design, wellness, and sustainability. We checked in with a few exhibitors to discover what’s notable and how they see the industry making moves going forward. For many, the lines between hospitality and contract continue to blur as clients strive to entice consumers to leave home and venture out to new destinations. But, of course, that means providing them with the comforts of home in an elevated way that makes experiences worthwhile and highly desirable.

For the Marriott Hotel in San Diego, Schonbek created a stunning custom lighting fixture that easily captivates every guest’s eye.

For the Marriott Hotel in San Diego, Schonbek created a stunning custom lighting fixture that easily captivates every guest’s eye.

Courtesy of Marriott Hotel San Diego and Schonbek Crystal Lighting

2nd Ave. Lighting

For the team at 2nd Ave. Lighting—who just finished work on the Southland Casino in Memphis, Arkansas—a spike of projects in both the hospitality and contract sectors has definitely attributed to their success. “We’ve seen huge growth in the last few years. We specialize in large scales, so naturally casinos fall right into our wheelhouse,” says Marketing Director Max Cohen. “We’ve done Turning Stone Resort Casino (in Verona, New York). We’ve done work with many casinos in Vegas (including Wynn and other brands), but now we’re seeing upticks on our commercial side, so we’re branching out with custom contract lighting in commercial-type settings. It’s more in metropolitan, high-density populations.”

They’ve also seen a rise in client demand for technology that’s going into fixtures because people want warmer lighting. “Clients use task lighting and different types of fixtures to illuminate the space, so the chandeliers and the lighting that we provide sometimes don’t really even have to illuminate the space,” Cohen explains. “We’re seeing people put in decorative items that are not quite as functional but are soothing. They almost feel like a residential piece, but some of them can be 40 feet long.” Because these fixtures provide a softer, more residential feel, Cohen equates it to being akin to working at your dining room table in place of a corporate sterile environment.

Additionally, he notes a rise in the demand for portables. “I think many companies doing design who we’ve had a relationship with over years are listening closer to what our capabilities are,” Cohen says. “They always knew us as the hospitality and the public space company, but our marketing has been more broad reaching, so our clients are not looking for new vendors. They're looking to expand with the people they’re comfortable with, so they’re giving us opportunities to do other things that before they might have sent elsewhere.” Of course it’s well-known that the company has been in the portable business since 1974, with its roots dating back to Tiffany stained-glass lamps. “We’re still the largest Tiffany dealer in the world, so we’ve been selling portables forever,” Cohen says. “The company shifted to a custom lighting manufacturer, and now we’re seeing many people use us for more full-scale projects. We’re getting much more of the pie, and it’s been interesting to see that.”

Courtesy Mystique/Barbara Kraft BNEG and 2 Ave Lighting

WAC Lighting/Modern Forms/Schonbek

“We’ve been in business for more than 40 years. What makes us different is that we manufacture all of our electronics in-house—that’s a little unusual for a lighting manufacturer,” says Director of Business Development, WAC Lighting/Modern Forms/Schonbek Harry Moshos. “So all of our electronics, all of our drivers, the LEDs…everything that goes into the guts of the components of our product, we manufacture in-house. It allows us to keep control over the quality of the product and our supply chain.” With product lines that encompass interiors, exteriors, architectural landscape lighting and product, as well as ceiling fans, there’s more to explore with WAC/Modern Forms, and of course the acquisition of Schonbek from Swarovski Lighting about a year ago adds additional sparkle to an already impressive portfolio. “We manufacture most of the legacy Schonbek product domestically here in the U.S., and we’re proud of that,” Moshos says, as he points out the new LED product line, Schonbek Beyond. “That’s the marriage of the great WAC technology and LEDs that everybody has come to know and feel comfortable with to Schonbek designs and crystal, resulting in an upscale, luxurious feel to the brand.”

As far as the trends he’s seeing in the market, Moshos notes that, on the contract hospitality side, the team is finding that more stock matters to people—but also, specifying with confidence. “[It’s important] to have a partner that carries a variety and breadth of different designs, but that also backs that up with inventory and delivers on time. Because supply chain issues that we’ve seen over the last couple of years with COVID has just made it extremely difficult to bring a project from design to implementation,” he explains. “On the design side, we’re seeing lots of black and brass finishes.” As far as Schonbek is concerned, Moshos adds, custom capabilities are important as well. “Designers always want to put their little touch on things, their signature to it, so it’s finding a careful balance between the two. Because if you specify something, but it’s not within budget and it gets value-engineered or it’s not practical to get there within a certain lead time, then that’s not adding value either.”

Another hot topic that naturally came to mind was sustainability, as it continues to be something clients and their customers are demanding today. “We’re on the forefront of that, so LEDs in terms of sustainability, lower carbon footprint, and reducing our overall usage. Also in terms of the materials we use,” Moshos notes. “We’re conscious of sustainability because it's important for the future, and, for designers, it’s not something they necessarily lead with, but it adds to the story.” As far as what’s next for the organization, there are many different products in the pipeline, including a brand new collection for Schonbek called Jewelry for Your Home, potentially debuting in January 2023. Meanwhile, WAC and Modern Forms will continue to innovate and release new products and designs in the new year.

Best of BDNY

Of course, we’d be remiss not to check in with the winner of the Best of BDNY 2022 Product Design Competition for lighting, Arteriors. The company—renowned worldwide as a global lifestyle brand that’s focused on accessible luxury and sustainability—took top honors for its Renly Pendant. The innovative and stylish design is jewel-inspired and a gorgeous addition to any space.

Arteriors Renly Pendant, winner of Best of BDNY 2022 Product Design Competition for lighting, is jewel-inspired and features a unique spiraling silhouette that casts a soft glow as the light hits the gold leaf-finished steel.

Arteriors Renly Pendant, winner of Best of BDNY 2022 Product Design Competition for lighting, is jewel-inspired and features a unique spiraling silhouette that casts a soft glow as the light hits the gold leaf-finished steel.

“BDNY is such an important show for the contract design industry, and we are honored that the Arteriors Renly Pendant was selected as a winner. Our incredible in-house design team crafted the Renly in a unique spiraling silhouette, which casts a soft glow as the light hits the gold leaf-finished steel. We look forward to seeing the creative ways that hospitality designers implement this piece in future projects!” says SVP Sales & Marketing Terry Clayton. “As we close our 35th anniversary year, this award win is a wonderful testament to where we are today as a company—and the direction we are headed in too. In 2023, we are investing more than ever in our contract furnishings business, and we look forward to connecting more broadly with the creative talent in this space.” ■

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