The slightly delayed blog post about my time in New York last month! I am going to show you some of the highlights of my 6 day trip organised as part of Craft Scotland go and see to visit NY NOW, a huge trade show in the centre of Manhattan!
I was greeted by a very sunny New York! Walking the High Line from the Javits Centre to the Whitney Museum was an amazing insight into seeing the diverse mixture of buildings, new and old, through that part of the city. Elevators and stairs made it incredibly accessible for people to meander through the west part of the city. The Whitney Museum is now my favourite gallery space! Hosting a Frank Stella exhibition the bright gallery spaces were filled with his sculptural, colourful artwork. A definite high of the trip! I then walked through Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Soho popping into boutiques I had previously researched. New York has a plethora of independent shops which are all curated beautifully! I then walked to Ground Zero a landmark I have always wanted to visit. I also visited MOMA in the evening taking advantage of it’s free entry and enjoying the Picasso sculpture and Jackson Pollock exhibition. Also seeing Monet’s Waterlillies in the flesh was an experience I won’t forget!
I visited Williamsburg by ferry on a beautiful sunny morning! Leaving East 34th street on the wee ferry was brilliant and so quick. This part of New York has great independent shops, some of which I have followed on Instagram for a while so was great to visit in the flesh. As the sun was setting I walked across Brooklyn Bridge - I don’t think I stopped smiling! The day was finished by walking through Little Italy and meeting up with the Craft Scotland group for dinner.
NY NOW - Nothing could prepare me for how big this tradeshow was! It is definitely the largest I have visited before and with such a wide variety of exhibitors. Held in the Javits Centre on the West side of the city we all met at the entrance and started the day by visiting the Handmade section. This would be the most appropriate part of the show for my work, I felt, and this is where there was a British section coordinated by Design Eyes. A mixture of textile and jewellers filled this British section with some familiar faces such as Plockton’s Gilly Langton and jewellers I have exhibited alongside in previous shows. Considering everyone is based thousands of miles away, I felt some of the displays were the strongest in this section and stood out above the rest (I may be biased) Small tips like using cardboard boxes as plinthes and foam board as tables tops were great to know for future reference. I particularly liked Eleanor Boltons display, I liked the amount of work she had out, I didn’t feel like it overwhelmed the viewer and every time I passed someone new had picked up a bangle or necklace to try on, talk about or just enquire to how it is made.
Walking around the rest of the Handmade section I was also drawn to the German area, I love German jewellery and it included some of the most ‘contemporary’ jewellery I had seen! As a whole I found the exhibitors to be very friendly in disclosing information about how long they had been going, had they exhibited at the show before and would they do it again. Collating the information I found that exhibitors were showing in both the Winter and Summer shows and participating in at least 2. For some exhibitors they only did trade shows throughout the year which helped to build a strong trade clientele and helped develop the work at a steady pace.
I left the Handmade section and headed upstairs to Accent on Design. This was a section that had been pointed out to us by Jo from Craft Scotland as another interesting spot to possibly exhibit in. I would say it focussed more on contemporary design-led businesses who weren't necessarily makers. There were collectives within the area who had joined up to have a group stand and I thought they were very effective. It felt less craft more concept store and also felt slightly more curated which I suppose helps independent boutiques and shops to see how the products would fit in their store.
NY NOW also hosted seminars throughout the day for visitors - I attended the one in the afternoon titled Making it Real: The Road from Design Idea to Successful Artisan Product. It was a really informative seminar and covered how to introduce new products into your collection using a year timeline and also showed great examples of how people promoted themselves using buzzwords such as #slowcraft etc
I finished the day by walking round the Gift section, which was an eyeopener to how much imported jewellery was on display. It was really interesting to see the different clientele that was shopping in this area compared to Handmade.
The group all met at the BJGI (British Jewellery and Giftware International) a subsidiary of BATF (British Allied Trade Federation) stand within the gift section where we were given a tour of the stand and told about the different options for makers if you were to exhibit there. One of the advantages of exhibiting in this section is having access to the wealth of knowledge of the managers who attend and man the stand, funding and reduced stand cost options.
We met in the morning at the British Consulate for an event about exporting to the US. We were given talks about setting up a bank account to how to ship to the US effectively. These were really interesting talks and only highlighted how much preparation is needed for entering into the US market. The logistics of transferring money and shipping were 2 issues I wanted to find out about and felt that the different talks put my mind at rest at how to deal with these.
After lunch we headed back to NY NOW to meet with Allison Garafalo, sales director of NY NOW who was incredibly informative about the sizes of stands that were available, pricing structures, what areas of the show attract different buyers and how best to exhibit at the show, to name a few.
In the evening we all met for dinner - I had nipped off to Chelsea Market for some shopping and walked through Times Square!
This was our free day where we could visit places that had been recommended or places we had researched. I started with pancakes then then headed north to Central Park. I couldn’t come to New York and not visit Tiffany’s, this was another highlight of mine! Opposite the road was Harry Winstons and Van Cleef and Arpels. These stores are only places I have looked at online so it was great to visit them and see the dazzling jewels in the flesh! I headed through Central Park to the Guggenheim, mainly for the shop but there was a great Kandinsky exhibit on. The permanent collection was also amazing but the building is something else!! Of all the places I had visited in the past few days the Guggenheim shop had some of the best jewellery! It was the most ‘contemporary’ I had seen which was really encouraging in that there might be a place for my work within the city! I then headed to the MET where I visited the couture exhibit, Jacqueline de Ribes. The shop was disappointing for jewellery! The museum was like the V and A on speed! After walking through the park I decided to call it a day finishing the evening at a Jazz bar!
Our last day! We met at the a concept store called ABC Carpet and Home which I feel just encapsulates everything that I had loved up till then about New York boutiques. Curated beautifully, everywhere you looked you could see something new. Spread over 6 floors this shop has ceramics to sofas to lighting to clothing to stationary, everything you need for your trendy Brooklyn home! I could have spent all day in there inspecting the design of each piece however we had to move onto the Museum of Art and Design. I had known about the shop at the museum for being another possible stockist and the selection of jewellery was eclectic but I felt would work well with my style. We were meeting the head curator of the museum for a tour of Japanese Kogei, a fascinating exhibition of ceramicists from Japan. I loved the curation of the show and it was really interesting to hear the influences behind the work and to learn some were 11th generation makers.
I could go on for pages, coming back I feel totally inspired by the trip! New York is an amazing city and I would love to go back. There is so much to explore and see and do.