May is a great time to be in New York City—the perennially long winter lifts, daffodils begin to dot the abandoned corners of the city, and the design community comes out to show their unconventional wares. Unlike the formality and high stakes of Milan Design Week, New York design week tends to be a bit more idiosyncratic, playful and grimy—just like the city itself. Although there’s plenty of opportunities to see design luminaries trotting through talks, parties and openings, our favorite moments are always off the clock.

Zero Waste Bistro
The Finnish Cultural Institute of New York is bringing Nolla, the first Nordic zero waste restaurant, to New York City for Design Week. In an exhibition curated by Harri Koskinen and Linda Bergroth, Nolla will pop-up for five days at Wanted Design and feature sustainable materials from partners including Durat (composite material from ocean waste), Kotkamills (biodegradable disposable cups), Sulpac (plastic-free packaging), and the Finnish Design Shop. Wanted Design, May 18-22.

Shaker It
Returning for the third year, Furnishing Utopia is taking its original ethos of reintepreting Shaker design and opening it up to the designers to, “explore the virtues of focused work and cleanliness that the Shakers regarded as a path to enlightenment.” Hands to Work will showcase designs from 26 American and international designers and feature an array of objects including Studio Gorm’s collection of kitchen tools as well as the above baskets by Shigeki Fujishiro. 158 Mercer Street, May 19-22.

Cheeto Performance
New York’s favorite madmen of materials, Chen Chen & Kai Williams, know how to throw a party. They’re launching new products with a BANG this year in an event for the ages—a “Cheeto performance” featuring a specialty extrusion machine they imported after first eyeing it on a manufacturing trip in China. With Grubstreet’s recent wine pairing suggestion, we can’t wait to try tonight’s snack featuring a special recipe courtesy of their longtime collaborator chef Angela Dimayuga. Plus, new nomadic furniture brand Tortuga Living is co-hosting. May 15th, 7-9PM. RSVP Only.

Dining as Sport
The color-saturated, Memphis-inspired Instagram account @ettoresottsass comes to life for one month as Raquel’s Dream House, named after Raquel Cayre, the young design enthusiast behind the popular account. Don’t miss this opportunity to see Masanori Umeda’s iconic 1981 Tawaraya “boxing ring,” that also freestyles as a conversation pit, bed or communal dining table. Tawaraya is the largest piece made by Memphis and was featured prominently in the group’s communications.

Irrigation Carpet
Part of Sight Unseen’s OFFSITE events, Washington-based GRAIN is presenting their new rug inspired by crop circles and irrigation patterns on industrial farmlands. The designers are debuting their homage to American ingenuity—produced in the USA using fabrication techniques developed by early American settlers— at The Primary Essentials.

Now in its fourth year, NYCxDesign’s most provocative exhibition returns. Organized under the theme, Return of the Living Dudd, the project’s curators Lydia Cambron, Chris Held, and Ben Garthus, have expanded their presentation to include digital media, writing and performance. Don’t miss the opening on Friday where you can see Put Put’s “Covered Objects,” (above) as well as Bed Godward’s site-specific installation, “Beer Face Lie,” will be operating at full capacity as the designer bartends behind a full bar. 701 Grand Street, Brooklyn, May 17-20.

Pho Sure
Even designers need to eat. This week marks the opening of New York’s most anticipated Asian restaurant, Di An Di. The restaurant is from the team that launched Lower East Side neighborhood hang An Choi, and features interior details from New York’s design community including sconces from Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, plant installation by Hui Buy of Plant-In City (and brother of co-owner Tuan Bui) and Aurora Wallpaper from Calico. Don’t let the covetable interior throw you off—chef Dennis Ngo’s delicious menu of regional Vietnamese dishes, not to mention five different kinds of pho, is the perfect way to fuel up after a long day walking the shows. 68 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn.

Cheers! Ganbei!
There’s not a design week with plenty of glasses clinking and plastic cup smashing. The Design Objects program at the School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is presenting a collection of self-produced ceramic drinkware. Led by designers Pete Oyler and Jonah Takagi, the students are exploring the larger histories of art, craft and design and how those practices intersect with marketing, religion, war, gender, health and wellness. 201 Mulberry Street, May 17-20.