Ohio's North Coast recently hosted the fourth annual contemporary furniture show F*Sho on Friday 7 September 2012. Held in a former drill warehouse on the city's east side, the one-day event featured work by 30 local furniture designers, including internationally known names such as Objeti and Stephen Yusko, younger talents like the members of 2nd Shift Design Studio, and a number of undergraduates studying at the nearby Cleveland Institute of Art.
Jason Radcliffe, the show's main organizer, is the designer behind 44Steel's stainless steel furniture, best known for the simple, sleek Mouse Desk. He founded the F*Sho in 2009 to fill what he saw as a void in opportunities for Cleveland designers to display their work in their own community. Another motivation, Radcliffe admitted, was the puzzled response he received during his first visit to New York's International Contemporary Furniture Fair—not to his designs but to his hometown. "People would look at me and look at my stuff, and they're like, 'Why aren't you in Brooklyn? When are you moving to Brooklyn?'" Radcliffe says. "I'm like, 'Well yeah, I would love to go to Brooklyn, but I don't really want to live in Brooklyn. I love Cleveland.'"
Local pride is certainly a theme of F*Sho, which this year was sponsored by the local eatery The Black Pig. Each year, Radcliffe holds the event in an abandoned or unused space, often drawing design-minded residents from far-flung corners of Cleveland. The show's designers source most of their materials locally, and much of it is reclaimed. The company APOC—which stands for A Piece of Cleveland—salvages wood and other materials from the hundreds of Cleveland properties that are deconstructed each year and supplies local designers and builders. (APOC also makes its own original furniture pieces, which were featured in the show.)
The six young designers of 2nd Shift Design Studio—all born and raised in Cleveland—were inspired to start their own design group after visiting the 2010 F*Sho, and they don't plan on leaving their hometown any time soon. "Cleveland for us is kind of perfect," says Chris Comella of 2nd Shift. "Not only are we geographically close to those major markets like New York, or other big cities like Chicago and Boston, but Cleveland presents a lot of practical opportunities in that space is affordable and the community is tight knit, so you know other people and help each other." The presence of local manufacturers is another plus. "The capabilities that are inherent in the Cleveland area in terms of actually getting things made is one of the best areas in my opinion," he adds. "Also, there's the whole thing that this is our home, and we want to make our home something that we're proud of."
Each year, F*Sho has grown, with 2,000 people attending this September. It is Radcliffe's hope to continue to grow the Cleveland design community, to create a market for high quality locally made furniture that doesn't come for a department store, and to communicate to emerging designers that they don't need to move to another coast to start their careers.
Images by Dan Morgan