Service of Mood Change: NYNow and Then

February 13th, 2017

Categories: Gifts, Home Fashion Trends, Retail, Trade Show

Witloft leather apron

Witloft leather apron


What a difference a market—or six months—makes. It’s as though a shade came down over the gift show—called NYNow—my overall impression of exhibited products was such a dramatic gear shift last week from last August.

I’d characterize what I just saw as visually quiet, matte in texture, mostly natural colors—lots of gray–and booths filled with linen, cotton, wood, ceramics, straw or products made to imitate them. Patterns were tribal-inspired. The few vibrant colors, flamboyant patterns and sparkles jarred.

Last week we were at the farm; last summer we prepared for an elegant party.

Walter GWhen I wrote about my last visit in “Service of What You Might Get For Your Birthday,” I was taken by the abundance of shiny things–highly polished stainless steel, aluminum, copper, platinum and some gold and silver tableware.

The reason for the shift could be timing. In August exhibitors/manufacturers are thinking of winter and holiday decor while a winter market dresses stores with summer goods. But glorious hot days can also call for all things sunny, crisp, clean and bright—they weren’t.

As always I warn that my impressions are made from largely visiting the Home section which represents relatively few exhibitors vs the whole, though I cover the same area year after year.

A few examples.

Fog Linen Work’s aprons, table linens and clothing, designed by Yumiko Sekine Farmhouse potteryfrom Lithuanian linen, epitomize the simple, natural style I described above as do Witloft saddle leather aprons from Amsterdam [Photo above] and pieces of Farmhouse Pottery from Vermont [Photo right].

One company, Couleur Nature Paris, true to its name, offered more than earth colors. It looks to the garden for inspiration but there was nothing glossy about its tea towels, tablecloths, market baskets and glassware.

I’ve previously written about washable, resilient, stretched and tanned paper totes and sacks. This market there were several in this category. The ones that caught my eye were by Bsimple Creations [Photo below, center]. An Italian brand, Essent’ial, featured paper slipcovers, an introduction for

hapticlab-sailing-ship-kite-white_d246919f-094e-4480-abb4-a4bd3ef17de1_grandeI was charmed by the handmade sailing ship kites in the Hapticlab booth [Photo left]. They were made, according to the website, “in collaboration with Balinese artisans exclusively for Haptic Lab from locally-sourced bamboo and nylon.” You can also display them as a mobile.

Some of Middle Kingdom’s porcelain vases at the show appeared to be a departure from the spring colors on their website. Oversized pieces with a tribal, ikat motif—especially the ones in a curry color—commanded the booth. Walter G’s hand block printed indigo and white textiles, cushions and napkins are designed by owners Genevieve Hewson and Lauren Emerson in Australia and made in collaboration with artisans from Rajasthan. [Photo above, left.]

Honest wood bowls, boards and accessories filled much of the Javits real estate. Peterman’s Boards and Bowls was just one.

The exhibitors hail from around the world. To what do you attribute such a change in mood to inspire this drastic shift in style or am I overdramatizing standard seasonal fashion tweaks and trends?

Bsimple CreationsBsimple Creations’ tote in treated paper


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6 Responses to “Service of Mood Change: NYNow and Then”

  1. Martha Takayama Said:

    It is interesting to compare the abysmally gauche, tacky overdone taste in all matters of our new chief executive and his family and you recent Gift Show experience. Concurrent that you have a coterie of cabinet member and aides or hangers-on all of whom reflect equally bad taste, if at times less sumptuous. we are surrounded by a majority party that like the executive Branch is disinterested in the present or, the future, or in arts, history, refinement, literature and anything else except cold cash. They are on a swift ill-humored walk backward to an alternative and oppressive reality which does nothing to stimulate socializing or festivity/ The negation of all realities such as climate change, natural and man-made disasters that keep taking over our daily existence and the bleak really terrifying expectations that color our future and that of the whole world do not generate a lot of interest in frivolity or acquisition or sharing of luxury.

    It may be that the understated, practical nature of the products you are describing, and their ecologically sound and simple durable nature are meant to encourage spending in a world fraught with economic and political insecurities and teetering on the edge of multi-level depression.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You make a very good point. Honest straightforward goods, well-made, that are meant to last a long time may be just what the doctor ordered in these days fraught with insecurity and violence.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Mood is not necessarily at the bottom of change, but rather the hope to sell. The public seems to go for fads, so a seller must enter the crap shoot with as big a variety as possible in hopes of hitting a target. Good quality won’t always prevail, understandable since few can go out and buy YSL.

    The above “profundities” are issued by one who loathes shopping, and gleefully ignores the latest styles — beware of virtual facts!

  4. hb Said:

    I don’t know much about markets, but I’m guessing what you noticed at the gift show relates to the insecurity one feels in New York City these days. It is a time to hunker down.

    Foreign tourism seems way off, and it is not just the weather. Who wants to come here and be stranded as a consequence of some arbitrary executive order? That could easily happen thanks to the way that bunch of ham-fisted bozos surrounding our new president are going about “protecting” us. Conversely, based on lifelong travel and residence abroad especially in dictatorships, I’ve advised family and friends to avoid travel overseas unless absolutely essential. If foreigners resented “The Ugly American” before, now they are being egged on by our own president to downright loathe him. Somebody is going to get hurt.

    Incidentally, I’ve heard rumblings that the foreign “flight capital” which for so long made real estate a great New York business to be in, is also drying up. Manhattan apartment prices should be soon coming down.

    This is no time for optimism and the gentler tones you noted at the gift show might just appeal more to those of us possessing understated or nonexistent enthusiasm for the world around us.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In pulling together workshop speakers years ago I invited a retailer of decorative products such as wallpaper who turned out to be one of the best speakers I’d ever heard. The man also sold paint and could have described what it was like to watch it dry and listeners would be riveted. The next year I invited him to speak again and he refused. He said he hated public speaking and couldn’t put himself through the experience. So why am I mentioning this you ask? You may hate shopping but consistently choose the best gifts. It happens.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There was a comforting feeling at the show this market. Who knows if it was deliberate; if it was me looking for comfort or what but simpler and down to earth reigned and/or caught my eye.

    You mention the Manhattan real estate scene. Seems so odd to me that a man who made his living in real estate doesn’t realize the repercussions of his actions. Oh! I forgot. He probably licenses his name to most of the real estate in NYC so it’s someone else’s problem. His interest is in the properties he owns abroad or plans to pick up for a song once he shakes things up enough. One way or another if allowed to stay in office long enough the man will leave a very wealthy man while now he’s a man who lives large and owes a lot of money.

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