A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: Caitlin Mociun opens a colorful new store, Matthias Merkel Hess makes a wacky new desk organizer, and MPGMB designs a covetable new line of accessories made from dyed wood fiber, pictured above.
There’s a kind of genius in the way that Josephine Heilpern runs her ceramics studio, Recreation Center. Maybe not in the fact that she does everything — from designing to fabricating to filling orders — 100% on her own, with no help, running herself perpetually (yet gleefully) ragged, but more in how she knows exactly when to keep things simple versus when to let her imagination run wild. In the three years since she’s been making the mugs, lamps, and mobiles we’ve been fortunate enough to stock in our online shop, she’s barely changed her design formula, hewing to basic shapes and consistent patterns that resist becoming tiresome with daily use, yet on her site and her popular Instagram feed, she markets those objects with all the visual pizzazz of a 28-year-old raised on internet culture. When we invited her to shoot some of her creations exclusively for Sight Unseen, she turned up the styling charm, busting out the dollar-store props and studio scraps to bring her aesthetic vision to life.
Utah-based artist Daniel Everett has a BFA in photography from Brigham Young and a master’s from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. But it may have been what happened between his two degrees that had the biggest impact on Everett’s career. “I’d done an internship as part of my undergraduate degree with Edward Burtynsky, and after I finished my undergrad, I traveled with him for just over a year,” Everett remembers. “If you know his work, Burtynsky photographs, like, manmade manipulations of the landscape: the largest open-pit copper mine, or the largest oil field. We were always traveling to some superlative location — the biggest, the widest, the greatest — and I got really interested in the in-between places that we passed through: the nondescript, transitory spaces like subway systems, airports, parking garages, and hotels. Spaces that are meant to be legible regardless of the language, and where the aesthetics are governed by function.”
Let’s be honest for a second: The internet is wonderful. It’s a fantastic platform for research, and it enables creatives all over the globe to gather inspiration. It allows for artists and designers to see what exists, what’s missing, and to create accordingly. It’s hard to imagine a world without it. But what if you were a young artist trying to make it in 1960s Australia? Where did one find insight and inspiration? If you were artist Peter D. Cole, you probably looked to your art-history textbooks and the latest imported magazines from that hotbed of modernism, New York. Perusing his work, you begin to see patterns, and his influences become ever more apparent. There’s the very basic color palette of fire-engine reds, cool sky blues, and bright sun yellows, reminiscent of a Mondrian palette. There’s the tilted shapes, which could be a nod to the fathers of abstraction, the Russian Suprematists. Further still, you begin to see a pattern of grids and cubes, an obvious allusion to Sol LeWitt, one of the most famous artists practicing when Cole graduated in 1968. Mobiles similar to Calder’s, colorful forms attached by thin black lines reminiscent of Miró — we could go on but we’ll stop ourselves there. It’s through this weird, sometimes obvious amalgamation of influences that Cole is able to create original, inspired work that’s evocative yet far enough removed to be his own style.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week was all about material experiments: ping-pong paddles in Plexi or wood, a yoga-ball holder built from inflated concrete and pigment, and furniture made from the remnants of an imaginary construction site.
If there’s anyone we would trust to guide us through the annals of vintage fashion literature, it’s Lisa Mayock, co-founder of the sadly defunct, cool-girl label Vena Cava and now a Brooklyn-based creative consultant. So we were pretty thrilled when we sent out a call for this column a few months back and Mayock immediately responded with one of her most beloved and referenced books, BIG BIBA: Inside the Most Beautiful Store in the World. The book traces the short life of the 7-story Big Biba department store, which opened in 1973 after the fashion label’s massive success as first a mail-order catalog and then a series of London boutiques.
If we had a nickel for every time we heard a designer or artist express the desire to work across scales, disciplines, or dimensions, we could probably buy one of these. But earlier this week was the first time we’d heard this zeitgeisty little zinger: “It’s exciting to be producing things we can share with people, as opposed to just clicking a ‘share’ button.” While most graphic design studios dabble in physicality by way of books and other printed ephemera, the young New York duo Eyebodega — to whose co-principal Rob Chabebe said quote can be attributed — have been using 3-D printing to quite literally turn their Pinterest-ready digital illustrations into objects you can have and hold.
One of the best things about ceramics’ recent ascent in the art world is that a brighter light has been shone on designers who were practicing in the medium long before “urban claymaking” was ever a thing. The latest artist to experience a massive upswing in attention is Ron Nagle, the San Francisco–based postwar ceramicist who, in his 70s, still adds to his already massive body of work at an amazing clip. Shown at the last art Biennale in Venice, Nagle is currently the subject of both an exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art and a lovely feature in the new issue of PIN-UP Magazine, who writes of Nagle’s process: “Each [piece] boasts the presence of a monument covered in variations of fine stucco textures sprayed with layers of pastel, blush fields often overtaken by thick glazed pools and electric pinstripes. The pieces begin as collections of hand sculpted elements, and are slip cast, carved and fitted to each other, gaining their deep beds of color from multiple firings that are finished with chinapaint. The forms have shifted in theme through his career: from lean green tendrils hailing from ikebana to diorama scenes housing pulsing red cubes.” We’re particularly fond of a recurring trope in Nagle’s work that resembles glassy spears of asparagus, so we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite examples here.