Bennett House at NYIGF

This week, I made it into the city to take in the August market at the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF). I was pressed for time, so I focused my energies on the Accent on Design section in the mammoth Javits Center.

The brinca dada booth was among my first stops, and I was rewarded: the final 3/4" scale Bennett House was on display, along with a new line of furniture! Founder and CEO Doug Rollins was on hand to answer my many questions as I stared and stared at the final house (they previously showed a prototype at the Toy Fair in February; you can see my post here).

So what did I learn this time around about the house?

* It's smaller than the prototype, but still opens up to provide many levels of play. There's even a hinged  garage and an elevator (hand cranked)!

* It's a straightforward assembly made of eco-friendly woods...Doug assured me that it would not take longer than 45 minutes (P.S. This is not a lightweight house...definitely has some heft)

* Doug and his partner Tim Boyle, the architect who designed the house, used a completely different manufacturer from the Emerson, and are very happy with the quality. Doug does not foresee any issues and knows he will have happy customers.

* A whole new line of furniture is available with the house and will be sold as a complete set for $399 or by room, and prices will range from $29.99 to $49.99 per set. This new line is a *major* upgrade from the Emerson line...real wood grains, some leather, fabric, hinged details, and working drawers. Doug told me that they were designed by Cecilia Reboursin.

* Unlike the Emerson, the house will not be electrified. Too complex, and eliminates production delays and difficulties.

* The Bennett will be a limited run, only 300 are planned and a portion of that will be shipped to Europe.

* Retail price: $599

* The house is still on track to be available in October, and they will start taking pre-orders in the next few weeks.

How about some photos? The quality is not ideal -- they were all taken with my iPhone. The final flooring in the house will be bamboo, and Doug showed me a sample. I took some of the furniture shots on the sample. He also mentioned that the flooring in the garage will be cement-like.

That's Doug making a sale on a Bennett in the background, one of the few that occurred while I was at the booth!

The garage -- floor will have a cement finish

LOVE the stool, and the lounger is pretty great as well

Fabric topped bed!

That's a leather covering on the office chair

Two rugs come with the set

Nursery furniture also features fabric toppings

Lovely shape!

What do you think??

You might have seen the Dylan lurking in the background. Doug tells me the house, which retails for $149, is doing very well since it launched this spring and started shipping in the summer. The final furniture was on display, and I was impressed by the its sturdiness and style. For $14.99, it's a steal.

Here's some video of the Dylan and its furnishings (excuse crappy video quality):

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the latest from brinca dada. Is the Bennett on your wish list? Is the Dylan already in your house? What shall we ask Doug and Tim to make for us next?!

An Earring Challenge: Joint Post with Lemon Cadet

Summer days are dwindling...seemed like a good time for a joint post! Lemon Cadet, who runs Project: Project blog, suggested that we do a joint post with one piece from a pair of very cool industrial earrings by Melissa Borrell. We would use the earring however it inspired us. I have no clue what she's doing with it, and vice versa.

I actually first saw Melissa's work at the New York International Gift Fair back in February (I'm headed to the Gift Fair on Tuesday for the August market -- fun!). She crafts stunningly creative pieces, much like wearable art. This particular pair is Deco-inspired and made of metal. The earrings actually pop out of a flat sheet; check out this image from Melissa's site:
Courtesy of

Neat, right?

I gravitated back to my Cadet Room Box for the scene and knew I wanted to use some new decorative paper from the Paper Source for the wall; the flooring is scrapbook paper with a green suede-like finish. While I originally thought the earring could work as a hanging fixture of some sort, the flatness of it made it impossible to look realistic. I then quickly decided to use it as an ornamental feature on the credenza, much like a trivet or place mat (Chilewich designs come to mind).

Hope you like my take on the earring -- can't wait to see what Lemon Cadet cooked up! Check out her post!

By the way, I launched my August ***FREE ALERT*** giveaway today on the Call of the Small Facebook page! This month, I am giving away a set of Re-ment and storage boxes from Crate & Barrel. Just comment on the photo and you are entered for a chance to win. Comments will be open through Wednesday, August 31, 11:59 p.m. EST. This is open to followers on my Facebook page, domestic and international. GOOD LUCK!!

Credits: Couch and side chair are Hall's Lifetime Toys; Asian screen and side table are Petite Princess; Noguchi table is by Paris Renfroe; credenza is vintage German; lamp and silver bowl are eBay finds; pillow is by minimodernistas; planter is a napkin holder from Crate & Barrel, and the greenery is an aquarium plant; wallpaper is from the Paper Source; flooring is scrapbook paper from Michaels.

The time it took me: 1 hour

Affairs of Toys and Gifts

Whoa! It's the Bennett in the flesh, at Toy Fair 2011
I logged in some serious miles at the recent New York International Gift Fair and the Toy Fair, which both took place at the Javits Center in New York City in the past few weeks. These major events are open to the trade (and press, which is how I got to attend), and showcase the latest trends in design, playthings, house/home wares, and (many, many) related products. Major companies, small businesses, and individuals from all over the world attend to show and sell their products--it is a bonanza of ideas, people, wheeling and dealing, and its takes window shopping to a whole new level.

If you have never been, the shows are organized in long numbered rows, which hold booths that are grouped together by category; the aisles look like this:
Toy Fair

Gift Fair

So, this gives you a sense of the magnitude: multiply these pictures by about 100 and that's how much there is to see! The purpose of my visits to both was to see the offerings through my "mini goggles," but I had to be selective since I only had one day for each fair (both events run over a period of days). I will say that I got some *very* strange looks when I said I blogged about modern miniature design, but at least it was a good ice breaker.

The ice breaker was not needed at the brinca dada booths, however, and I had the pleasure of meeting owner Doug Rollins at the Gift Fair and architect Tim Boyle at the Toy Fair to see their latest wares. Let's start off with Doug, who had the prototype for the new collapsible Dylan on display (I blogged about it here). Doug demonstrated the Dylan and answered a few questions for me as I drooled....please excuse my inadequate use of my kids' Flip camera (I need to get some tips from them!)

It was great to see the Dylan up close and imagine its potential (the scale is still undetermined, but likely will be close to 1:16). Doug let me know that originally there was to be a drawer that would hold a set of paper furniture, but that was abandoned in the interest of making this as light and portable as possible. The paper furniture will still be done, though, and Doug and Tim promise great modern fun. I'm intrigued!

When I met Tim at the Toy Fair, he, too, was kind enough to indulge my lame Flip work, and showed me the gorgeous, gorgeous 1:16 Bennett House. I was happy to see it there, and Tim admitted that it took some late night hours to get this lovely prototype into shape for the Fair! First, a video of Tim and this gem:

Fantastic, right? I really do love the lines and structure, especially the play possibilities when it is both open and closed. As Tim notes in the video, there will be a new line of furniture for the Bennett that will be sold as a group, as with the Emerson furniture. By the way, Tim did note that they are working with a new manufacturer for the Bennett and Dylan, and are confident that the quality woes encountered with the Emerson are behind them. Price on the Bennett: $500-600. Timing for the Bennett: Fall 2011.

Care for Some More Highlights from the Gift Fair?
The Jonathan Adler booth had a lovely showroom space, prominently situated at one of the main entrances. I enjoyed speaking with the staff there, including Starrett Zenko, who heads up marketing and PR for the brand. Will there be more minis from Jonathan (you may recall his line for Barbie's 50th Anniversary)? Not likely, at least not in the near future, but I noted that a shrink gun would come in mighty handy! I did notice Adler's "Junior" display of smaller items for the home...would LOVE those pillows in 1:12!

The "Accent on Japan" section was a real treat, and not surprisingly, there were lovely things to see. I was intrigued by mini paper instruments by Inatome, known as PePaKuRa, or the phonetic Japanese pronunciation for "paper craft." The instruments are laser cut, made out of a single sheet of paper, and they were amazing to see up close:

More paper craft in another booth:

And a mini garden!

Umbra was next on my list. I have many Umbra products that I use in my 1:1 life, but my mini use has involved the ingenious "Fish Condo, " which I enjoyed setting up as a sleek beach pad. Their booth had a storage cube that has serious mini potential:

Even some nice picture frames that could serve as a backdrop, or two could even be used to create a little minimalist environment:

This wall decoration is fantastic as well -- many possibilities here, for flooring, a wall divider, even a ceiling in a room box!

Nearby, there was a fantastic gathering of iconic mini chairs at Karen Alweil Studio's booth, featuring the Australian company Little Nest:


The AMAC booth was like a candy store for us modern miniature collectors...
Little gems!

White opaque sleekness

OOOH! Black opaque!

Owner Steve Catechi was very intrigued and happy to see my open-mouthed reaction to the sea of beautiful plastic boxes, some gem colored, some shiny and opaque, in all shapes and sizes. HUGE mini potential here. Haven't we all used these boxes in some shape or form? The company has been around since the 1960s, and is recognized for its pure design by the Museum of Modern Art. I hope to share more from AMAC very soon!

Other Toy Fair Tidbits

One of the four major trends at this year's Toy Fair was "cent-sational," or the "pennies-per-play" model of mini collectibles and mini versions of toys already on the market at mini price points. Anyone else collect those LEGO action figures??? Speaking of LEGO, I thought of my buddy Pubdoll when I saw this LEGO car from the movie Cars, which was situated on the main floor. Over 100,000 pieces needed for that one!

The HaPe showroom was a highlight. The Sunshine Bamboo Dollhouse was on display, along with all of the funiture; while I have admired it on other blogs, it was nice to see it first hand. I had a long talk with the marketing head about the fun and challenges of producing and promoting these houses. I took some pics of the one they had on display, and admired the smooth, durable quality of the pieces.

We also discussed their new All Season Dollhouse, from their Educo division, which is a more straightforward structure, but still with an eco theme. I liked the hanging mod light and rocket ship accessory!

On to Plan Toys...we're all familiar with the Green Dollhouse, and I liked handling the furniture and seeing some new items, like the flower bed.

Cute, huh? I love how the felted flower buds are fashioned.

Along the way, another company caught my eye, Maxim Enterprise. They do make an eco dollhouse, the 3 Level Rotating Dollhouse, which has some potential, but I was intrigued by their new wooden modular rooms that you can fit together to create a dollhouse. All eco friendly as well.

They also were showing a barn that I thought could work as a studio to a larger house (sans the stalls), as well as a cute tree house that sprouted leaves! The Micro Timbers were pretty neat as well.

Some final eye candy that I love to use in my scenes: Tynies and the Beanie Eraserz, a line of new collectible erasers created by Ty and in partnership with the Japanese company Iwako. I love Tynies and am so glad my local toy shop carries them; it was good to see all the varieties here. Not just for kids, folks!

The Beanie line with Iwako is incredibly cute, and they feature "Beanie" colors. The eraser samples were on view in an enticing row of plastic dispensers, which attracted a lot of attention!

If you have read this far, thanks for your interest and patience! I had a blast at both fairs, and look forward to attending the next ones. If you went to any of the fairs as well, I'd love to hear your feedback!

Oh, a reminder to log in a *daily* vote for me in's Reader's Choice Awards! I'm up for "Best Miniature Blog." I've received emails from some of you out there wondering why Call of the Small is in last place (or close to last place). If you don't vote daily (once per IP address), then I will stay there, folks! I appreciate your support! VOTE HERE! Voting ends March 8.