It wouldn’t be autumn in New York without What’s New, What’s Next, the New York Design Center’s annual showcase of innovative ideas, surprising designs, brand-new materials and inventive products. To complement the hundreds of showhouse events and collection reveals, this year’s programming—taking place all day Wednesday, September 20—is not just bigger and better, but more aspirational and diverse. On top of trends, panels address everything from the evolution of outdoor spaces to the desire for interiors that connect on a spiritual level. Ralph Lauren Home, Fromental, House of Hackney, Alexa Hampton, Suzanne Kasler, Ariel Okin and Thom Filicia are just a few of the legacy brands and buzzworthy speakers on the docket.
“We create panels, discussions and presentations that provide essential information to designers in a single day,” says Jim Druckman, president and CEO of NYDC. Contrary to weeklong events elsewhere that address basic business issues, WNWN shines Manhattan’s klieg lights on more esoteric, intriguing topics—“from a national, even international, point of view,” he adds. The goal is to be inspirational over instructive, fun instead of boring. “We want people to enjoy themselves,” says Druckman.
“I always call it a market on speed dating,” says chief marketing officer Alix Lerman. “There’s lots to see, there’s lots to do, it’s only one day, so you have to be there.” If the packed itinerary seems to border on curated chaos, well, that’s intentional. “We work hand in hand with every single showroom, all our partners and designers, to develop the programming and determine the breadth of topics,” she says. The schedule takes into account everything from subject matter to elevator stops: “If you like modern design, you can easily move from one relevant showroom to the next. And if you never want to leave the seventh floor, you can stay there all day,” says Lerman. While it may be impossible for one person to do it all, the hope, according to Lerman, is that friends and colleagues will bump into each other in the building and gush, “Oh, my God, which panel did you go to? I just came from this one, and it was so great!”—connecting over individual and shared experiences.
Fifteen years in, thousands of repeat attendees prove that the formula fills a need, and the September date serves as the equivalent of a back-to-school clarion call for grown-up design pros: “It’s a jolt of excitement to jump-start the fall season,” says Lerman. New for 2023 are opportunities for what she describes as “quick-fire rapid programming,” with questions plucked from a fishbowl for a motley crew of designers to answer on the spot. Ranging from “What piece do you always put in a room?” to “What’s the last song you listened to?” the grab bag will be moderated by a to-be-revealed “big personality” in the business.
“It’s not the usual suspects,” says Lerman. “We have 163 presenters this year, in addition to 150 design ambassadors.” In response to pandemic shutdowns, the center also developed an online hub where visitors can always find native articles about new showrooms and collections as well as an Ask the Ambassador column. “It gives 200 Lex and What’s New, What’s Next a life beyond the day itself,” says Lerman. Satellite programming with such partners as Business of Home and the Design Leadership Network also show NYDC’s commitment to fostering the design community at large.
But the main event remains What’s New, What’s Next, of course. It’s less than a week away, so make your plans now. Below are highlights from the day’s program itinerary as of publication time:
10:00 a.m. | The Art of Design
Hosted by David Sutherland and Elle Decor
Join Elle Decor’s September cover star Mark Grattan, executive editor Ingrid Abramovitch and Perennials design director Amy Williams in conversation about curating stylish, well-versed spaces. They’ll touch on the intersection of fine art with home furnishings and explore the transformative power of iconic statement pieces that have come to serve an almost sculptural function within the home.
11:15 a.m. | What Does Quiet Luxury Mean in Interiors?
Hosted by de Le Cuona
With advice from the experts, de Le Cuona decodes the design field’s subtly buzziest trend. Frederic design editor Hudson Moore chairs a discussion among interior designers David Frazier, Roger Higgins and Blair Moore to define the aesthetic as demonstrated in their projects, while U.S. sales director Scott Russell presents the brand’s new collection of low-key, high-end classics befitting the style.
11:45 a.m. | The Practical Magic of Craft: Creating Bespoke Work With Artists and Artisans
Hosted by Fromental | Collier Webb
Emceed by Sabine Rothman and Victoria Murray of Interiors Academy, this engaging series of quick-fire presentations features the customized artisanship of such designers and makers as Tim Butcher, Danielle Collier, Joan Craig, Nina Farmer, Joy Moyler and Katharine Pooley.
12:00 p.m. | Designing With Influence: Living by Design Showhouse Designers on Creating Their Virtual Dream Home
Hosted by Palecek
Design Leadership Network’s Hadley Keller gets current with the on-trend influencers behind Embello’s trailblazing all-virtual showhouse, Living by Design. Tech-gifted visionaries Dabito, Ariel Okin and Will Taylor weigh in on creating a dream space—digitally—and consider what the showhouse’s success says about the future of the brick-and-mortar model.
12:15 p.m. | The Business of Design
Hosted by Leftbank Art
With interest in—and platforms for—reality design programs still growing strong, it’s essential to take a strategic approach to scaling and self-promotion. Interior designers and HGTV stars Justin Q. Williams and Michel Smith Boyd talk the nuts and bolts of business, branding and licensing in this conversation moderated by Beth Diana Smith of Beth Diana Smith Interior Design.
1:00 p.m. | The Exploration of Creative Collaborations
Hosted by Amuneal
Amuneal CEO Adam Kamens moderates this panel of fellow creatives including Elizabeth Bolognino, Brad Ford, Rodney Lawrence, Joe Nahem, John Pomp and Mark de la Vega as they talk about the approaches, collaborations and tools they’ve used to refine their visions, satisfy their souls and build their businesses. Representing a dynamic cross-section of designers, artists and businesspeople whose work celebrates not just products and spaces, but the partnerships and people behind them, this conversation will explore the intersection of inspiration, creative direction and the art of design.
1:45 p.m. | Floor to Ceiling: How to Design With Art in Mind
Hosted by Nasiri
Styling spaces for art-collecting clients presents a unique set of challenges: Statement-making paintings and sculptures demand equally stunning furnishings that can hold their own without competing with or distracting from the artworks. From colorful rugs to one-of-a-kind lighting, it all comes down to balance. Galerie managing editor Jill Sieracki explores how to orchestrate artful interiors from minimalist to maximalist, abstract to pop, in discussion with designers Danielle Colding, Amy Lau, Paolo Moschino, Brian Sawyer and Philip Vergeylen.
2:30 p.m. | Around the World in One Hour With Mary McDonald and Tori Mellott
Hosted by Jennifer Manners Modern Carpets
Frederic’s style director Tori Mellott and award-winning designer Mary McDonald describe the influential and inspirational impact of travel on their work and delve into the role it has played in inspiring McDonald’s signature interior aesthetic and distinct product designs.
2:45 p.m. | Creating a Home That Replenishes the Creative Spirit
Hosted by Jiun Ho NY
Take a stroll in New York’s newest “botanical garden,” Jiun Ho NY, where the cosmopolitan designer debuts his new outdoor furniture and Nagomi textile collections. Amid this verdant oasis, Design Leadership Network’s Hadley Keller will moderate a panel discussion among Ho, Young Huh, Janice Parker and David Scott about how to create a home that soothes and restores the spirit.
3:45 p.m. | Luxury Living in the Great Outdoors
Hosted by Royal Botania
With homeowners increasingly looking to their own backyards for not just refuge but style, outdoor spaces have become a place for year-round living. Advances in performance materials have taken outdoor furnishings to new heights of sophistication, sustainability and comfort—truly extending the footprint of a home. Moderated by Aspire’s Paul Hagen, this conversation spotlights designers who are blazing trails and setting trends in great outdoor living spaces, including Kammi Reiss and Kristen Rock of Krid Studio, Iris Dankner of ID Creations and Leyden Lewis of Leyden Lewis Design Studio.
3:45 p.m. | Design Is Spiritual: Creating Spaces, Objects and Experiences That Make Clients Feel Whole Again
Hosted by Skram
Spaces that evoke a sense of belonging and invite sensory exploration and emotional expression are what most clients want now—even if they can’t always put it into words. Far beyond simply curating beautiful projects, designers, architects and brands have the ability to instill peace and promote healing, whether it’s through the structure of a room, the materials chosen or experiential components. Speakers including founder of RHG Architecture+Design Rachael Grochowski, founder of Skram Furniture Jacob Marks and moderator Tiffany Rafii, CEO of UpSpring, explain how they conceive of spiritual spaces that make inhabitants feel held, grounded and safe.
4:30 p.m. | Learn From Top Designers Why They Chose Kips Bay
Hosted by Dennis Miller New York
Guided by renowned designer Alexa Hampton, luminaries Natasha Baradaran, Kesha Franklin, Sergio Mercado and Roric Tobin bring their unique perspectives and share their collective wisdom in this insightful discussion delving into the significance of the legendary showhouse event. Discover the secrets, inspirations and creative journeys that make Kips Bay an annual must-attend for design enthusiasts and professionals alike.
5:00 p.m. | Evolution of Outdoor Living
Hosted by Brown Jordan
Veranda editor in chief Steele Marcoux leads a conversation with Billy Ceglia, Mario Navarro and Cara Woodhouse on how maximizing outdoor spaces has transformed the way we live today.
5:15 p.m. | Slim Aarons: Style Book Signing With Authors Kate Betts and Shawn Waldron
Hosted by Interlude Home
Kate Betts and Shawn Waldron, editors and co-authors of Slim Aarons: Style, lead a Q&A about the famed photographer’s distinctive vision and remarkable career, followed by a book signing.
This story is a paid promotion and was created in partnership with the New York Design Center.
Homepage image: The facade of 200 Lexington Avenue, home the New York Design Center and site of What’s New, What’s Next | Courtesy of New York Design Center