Having branched into retail three years ago with the Sight Unseen Shop — plus a few pop-ups along the way — we can definitively say that the only thing better than buying beautiful objects for ourselves is putting them out into the world for the enjoyment of others. When Marissa Maximo, curator of Space Ninety 8 in Williamsburg, offered us 500 square feet in which to host an event for the month of September, we figured it was the perfect opportunity to bring the work of some of our favorite makers — most of it destined for our fall shop collection — to a much wider audience. Designed by Syrette Lew of Moving Mountains and on view now through October 5, the pop-up consists both of items we admire (Pat Kim’s Soap on a Rope, Heddle & Needle’s wall weavings) and items we’ve commissioned exclusively for the Sight Unseen Shop (Ian Anderson’s Oden pitchers, Sandwich Shop’s Shapes Vase and Two-Tone Artifact Mug). See photos of the space — and our packed opening-night party — after the jump.
“Another Cats Show” may have started as a one-liner, but that doesn’t mean it fails to land the joke. The exhibition, which closed this week at the Los Angeles gallery 356 Mission, included feline-themed pieces from 301 artists and proved that what they say about die-hard cat lovers is pretty much true: They may be crazy, but they also totally mean it. “People assume cats will be funny,” says Ooga Booga founder Wendy Yao, a partner in the space. “It is casual and inclusive, and gives artists a chance to do something not quite as monumental.”
Our first introduction to Louie Rigano, a New Jersey-born, RISD-educated designer who’s now studying in the Design Products program at RCA, was a piece he’d made for the American Design Club’s Trophy Show, back in 2013. Called Glittering Urn, it was a neo-classical form made slightly punk-rock by virtue of its material: a resin that had been almost entirely suffused with glitter. So it came as no surprise when we received an email last week from the designer — who describes his process as a “search for moments of unexpected accord between the spectacular and the practical” — of a new furniture collection he’d created in collaboration with fellow student Avantika Agarwal, which paired relatively simple wooden forms with an audacious coloring process. To create Charcolor Furniture’s seared rainbow effect, CMYK pigments are literally burned onto the wood.
Props to Chicago artist Jenn Smith for making art that’s basically the grown-up version of our dream childhood bedroom. Working largely in a pastel-heavy palette, Smith mixes mediums and experiments with digital manipulation to create pieces influenced by “cross-section diagrams, ’80s arcade games, and vintage textile patterns.” It results in pieces that are totally compelling but not without a sense of humor and self-awareness. Currently an MFA student at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Smith also has a nice Tumblr filled with works-in-progress.
Today is an exciting day at Sight Unseen, because for months we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to put together our biggest, most exclusive collection of new releases ever, and now we can finally unveil the results! From marbled cups by Workaday Handmade to ceramic mobiles by Recreation Center to copper and brass necklaces by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, we’ve assembled a killer group of handmade housewares and jewelry by our favorite rising design talents, and you can shop them all right now in the Sight Unseen Shop — you won’t find them anywhere else!
“Timeless” is probably the most overused — and abused — word in design in recent years, typically employed by designers in the context of sustainability in order to imply that a piece has such a classic look or function that its expected longevity can somehow justify its existence in a sea of wastefulness and overproduction. Future Tropes, a new group show that opened this past weekend at Chicago’s Volume Gallery, approaches the concept of timelessness from a very different angle, however: “The work should be slightly ahead of the world, slightly un-contemporary, setting the stage for future codes yet operating in a place that precedes our ability to apply language to those codes.” (—Jan Verwoert, as adjusted by RO/LU.) In other words, objects that are equally linked to our prehistoric past and our distant, utopian future. Volume curators Sam Vinz and Claire Warner proposed that brief to Leon Ransmeier, ROLU, Jonathan Muecke, Tanya Aguiñiga, Jonathan Olivares, and Anders Ruhwald, who exchanged ideas on the topic before each creating a custom piece responding to it. See the results after the jump.
Normally our “Invitation” column is all about inviting designers and artists to make custom works for publication on Sight Unseen, but today we’re using it in a more straightforward way: We’d like to invite all of our readers to join us at a weekend-long workshop series we’ve helped curate, taking place in upstate New York September 19-21. Founded in 2012 by Peter Coffin and Jon Santos, The Last Weekend is like summer camp for adults, with a three-day agenda full of art, music, food, and activities; we’ve attended since the very beginning, so we were honored when, this summer, the organizing team tapped us to become a curatorial partner and invite some of our favorite makers to take part. We’re previewing their contributions after the jump, but you can see the full event lineup — and purchase tickets for $215 per person, including all meals and activities — by following this link. We hope to see you there!