The highly acclaimed cultural platform that has contributed to the success of NYC Design Week gets reinvented, starting in May 2020 with WantedDesign Manhattan at the Javits Center. Conferences, talks, emerging young talents, new brands and a true New York experience. For a special 10th anniversary.
Conversing with Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, co-founders of WantedDesign, one is overwhelmed by a rare wave of energy. The passion for design and the conviction that the key to success is to create relationships between emerging talents, creative professionals and manufacturers exudes from every word uttered by the duo that have changed the approach to design culture in New York. A vision that has made their platform the most eagerly waited event during Design Week, with outstanding companies like Cappellini and internationally acclaimed designers like Humberto Campana, invited last year to hold a workshop lasting throughout the week. Initiated in 2011 in Manhattan in the spaces of the Terminal Building, and then also in Brooklyn, at Industry City – with a more conceptual exhibition connected with the creative process, schools and experimentation – in May 2020 WantedDesign will be on stage with ICFF inside the Javits Center. An exclusive collaboration that will bring major changes to NYC Design Week. Odile and Claire talked it over with IFDM.
When did the idea of creating WantedDesign get started?
Odile: We met in New York in 2010, and by chance we started to talk about our passion for design. We were both amazed that in New York, apart from the ICFF trade fair, there were no other events in the city, no design week, and very little visibility in the world of design. We decided to invent a new type of exhibition that would engage New York and its design community, presenting not only well-known companies but also emerging ones, small producers, young talents, schools. To create a dialogue between these different realities. So we decided to call our platform WantedDesign.
Claire. The idea was to create a “place” that would show design culture through its creative process, with talks, seminars, conferences, brining together students, architects, designers and companies in a single format, under the same roof. A very important part of our project was to grant visibility to American design, to promote it and bring it up to date. We realized that few people knew about what was happening in American design, so we began to make contact with its community in New York. In May 2011 we opened our first exhibition, at the Terminal Building in Manhattan, at West Chelsea, and it was a big success.
What do you remember about that first exhibition?
Odile: Many people came to us and said “this was just what New York needed!” It was exciting to hear companies and designers asking to take part in our effort, wanting to be a part of it for the next year. In 2020 we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary! New York Design Week officially began two years later, in 2013, and we feel very proud to have helped the city to create this event that has become more and more important, year after year. An international reference point.
Claire. It was really incredible to see emerging talents and well-known designer together at the same location. And not only that: small companies together with leading brands, American design and international vision, students from schools together with manufacturers. It was the first time in New York that an initiative had managed to connect the design community in this way, with a 360° perspective. The result has been the growth of a true network. After our event, we immediately began to make connections between the different realities that had taken part in WantedDesign Manhattan, shifting everything we had begun to develop into a single platform.
Your initiatives have also included the opening of the WantedDesign store…
Claire. Four years ago we decided to open our store at Industry City, with the idea of creating a reference point that would be there year round, not just during Design Week. A store that gathers and expresses our idea of design and the continuous research that lies behind our work.
In your view, what is the secret of WantedDesign’s success?
Odile. WantedDesign has brought together and connected what was previously differentiated: either a trade fair or a store or a website… We wanted to give meaning and visibility to what was imperceptible: the process and the people that give life to a product. We have triggered relationships, and we have continued to keep them alive. Relations that lead to other relations… We always pay close attention, during our events, to connect young talents with brands and products, building a network that is constantly growing.
How did the close collaboration between WantedDesign and ICFF begin, leading to the decision to show inside the Javits Center?
Claire. Two years ago we began to think we should make WantedDesign Manhattan evolve, because the space of the Terminal Building was starting to be too limited for our exhibitors, events and talks. We tried to understand how to move, what we should do, which other locations to consider… We were looking at other spaces when ICFF contacted us to ask if we could create the event WantedDesign inside the Javits Center, in close collaboration with them. An incredible match: we needed a new location – the Terminal Building had been sold in the meantime – and they needed a partner that would bring experimental, emerging, visionary design into the fair.
Odile. We were immediately enthusiastic. We thought it would be a great challenge, the next step in everything we had been doing since the birth of WantedDesign. For 2020 we will be showing in the Industry City location and inside the Javits Center, with our own space of about 2000 square meters. Our layout will be completely different from the space of ICFF, because the two events will have clearly distinct identities: we will present young products from Canada, North and South America, and we will organize events, conferences and workshops, keeping faith with our modus operandi. It’s great to be able to work and collaborate with the ICFF team and with their new ideas, to modify and implement one of the most important trade fairs in the States. Our idea? To create a place where people can spend time, swapping ideas, conversing, having an experience. And we want them to remember that experience as something unique… and very New York.
Photo Credits: iKon Production