By ‘design’? Brooklyn’s top furniture showcase killed by state budget cuts

By ‘design’? Brooklyn’s top furniture showcase killed by state budget cuts

Bklyn Designs — the annual showcase for cutting-edge interior designers, retailers and manufacturers — won’t be happening in DUMBO this spring.

The reason? State budget cuts.

“The state has been incredibly generous [in the past], but unfortunately, the budget woes have an impact right here in Brooklyn,” said Carl Hum, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which runs Bklyn Designs.

The event runs on sponsorships, ticket sales, and exhibitor fees, as well as a grant from the state Assembly’s Brooklyn delegation.

Thousands of programs across the state will be affected by the slashing of so-called “member initiatives,” which fund little leagues, alcoholic treatment programs and cool design events alike, said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg).

“There’s some who would say that’s a good thing because everyone has to feel the pain, and I agree with that,” said Lentol, Albany’s longest-serving member. “A lot of organizations like the Brooklyn Chamber that do good work have programs that are going to suffer as a result of this year’s budget [but] we need to tighten our belt.”

For their part, Brooklyn designers will miss this year’s showcase, which last year presented more than 30 local designers to more than 6,000 visitors at St. Ann’s Warehouse over the course of three days.

“It is a little disappointing that it’s not happening,” said April Hannah, a Bklyn Designs alum and DUMBO-based designer of an eco-friendly furniture line. “As a new designer, to be able to present on an international platform was really great.”

Local businesses are also expecting to hurt with those thousands of visitors no longer trekking to DUMBO.

“We do really well during Bklyn Designs because we are a design store,” said Jessica Levy, manager of Stewart/Stand on Front Street. “We have a pretty steady clientele, but we do rely on those events to give us little spikes and more of a comfortable margin. When Bklyn Designs doesn’t come around, we will notice it.”

Organizers said that the showcase would return next year. For now, Bklyn Designs will represent eight Brooklyn-based designers at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center, starting on May 14.

DUMBO designer April Hannah is disappointed that Bklyn Designs won’t be happening this year.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini