By definition, contemporary design means style that is “of the moment,” representing the kind of trends that end up being used as a shorthand for conjuring flashbacks to a certain time period, think: wood-paneled rec rooms and avocado appliances. Last weekend, modern day lifestyle themes that one day will be studied by set designers looking to tell a story about the late teens of the 21st century were on display at the WestEdge Design Fair held at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.
Showcasing more than 175 companies, WestEdge may have looked like a colorful collection of luxury design, but it served up cultural cues to our relationships with technology, the world, social justice and environmental concerns. And you thought you were just looking at a rug.
In an era when we are simultaneously embracing technology in all forms for smart home design and appliances — while doing everything we can to create soothing sanctuaries that buffer and shield us from the fray — contemporary design is a study in contrasts. Yes, we want to preheat the oven from our smartphone, but we also want to eat dinner on a table made of sustainable wood. Both were at WestEdge.
The show celebrated the craftsmanship and handmade appeal of artists and artisans like designer Kelly Lamb, ceramicist Lynne Meade and artists Lisa Donohoe and Brynn Gelbard of Los Angeles-based Londubh, while at the same time reveling in dramatically conceived booths like the one from JennAir that was as much a contemporary art installation as a product showcase.
The Shade Store, one of the larger companies there, introduced its latest Roman shade and drapery collaboration with designer Nate Berkus. Among the emerging companies on hand was Del Mar, Calif.-based Ibbq, showing off its outdoor dining table with gas grill inset, and the Personal Space to-the-trade showroom in Manhattan Beach, which debuted the latest additions to its lines.
Here are 12 designs that captured the style zeitgeist.