Vase Trophé ©POOL
Here’s the truth: We haven’t visited France in nearly a decade, and though we know there’s a scene there full of wonderful young talents on the verge of something huge, we’d be hard pressed to dissect it with the same kind of intimate knowledge that we bring to the players on our own soil. That said, if there’s one studio we’ve kind of been obsessing over lately, it’s Pool — the Paris-based duo of Léa Padovani and Sébastien Kieffer, who met while working for designer Noe Duchaufour-Lawrence. As Pool, they’ve created products for La Chance, Petite Friture, and Gallery S. Bensimon, and in Kortrijk this week, at the Interieur Biennale, they’re gathering their best work together under one roof. The exhibition Walk the Line, on view until Sunday, includes previous favorites, like their hammered copper and painted metal Maillet lamp, as well as never before seen works like the green Trophé vase at the top of this post. Go see it if you’re in the area, and if you’re not, keep an eye on this page for great things coming down the pike and read on for even more fantastic images.
Vase Trophé ©POOL
The team behind Fort Makers don’t refer to themselves as a design studio but rather an “artist collective,” and there’s a marked difference: They make functional objects, but instead of producing a stream of products with a unified aesthetic, they each work individually under the studio umbrella, experimenting with whatever interests them at any given time. In a way, it’s that same sense of structureless structure that first attracted Noah Spencer to the idea of making mobiles: You can hang pretty much anything from them, as long as you get the balance right. “Any kind of visual language can be carried into the mobile world,” says Spencer, a Paul Loebach and Uhuru Design alum who co-founded Fort Makers in 2008. While he primarily makes models hung with simple wooden shapes, he’s also been toying around lately with more expressive elements made from polymer clay (aka Sculpey), a method he graciously offered to teach Sight Unseen readers in this tutorial.
Australian ceramicist Tessy King may only just be finishing her degree in ceramics at RMIT in Brunswick, but that doesn’t mean she’s a novice. Originally from a small town in Northern New South Wales, King studied nursing and naturopathy at a small university after high school and credits her interest in the medium back to those days as a budding scientist. “I often refer back to some of that knowledge when contemplating my work,” she says. “Ceramics involves so much chemistry.”
Michele Reginaldi is an established Italian architect and visual artist. Born in Teramo in 1958, he has been a partner at Gregotti Associati since 1998. He began working on a series of form studies — what he refers to as constructions — in the late 1980s that have grown to include more than 120 individual pieces. These constructions range in size and shape, but all are made from the same material — brass. Reginaldi classifies his constructions into four categories: studies around the circle, studies in verticality, light structures, and constructions for architecture. These pieces are crucial to his success as an architect; on their own the constructions are beautiful sculptural works, but when put into the context of architecture they become important explorations in scale and proportion. Knowing this, his constructions’ influence is clearly evident when browsing the architectural projects of his practice.
With a studio based out of the UK, artist Rana Begum has exhibited around the globe, from New York to London to Dubai. And it seems fitting that a recent solo exhibition should take place at that latter city’s Third Line Gallery, an exhibition space catering to contemporary Islamic art. Begum’s Bangladeshi childhood informs much of her work, observing geometric repetition in traditional Islamic patterns and the way light activates the interiors of local mosques. This, combined with the conflicting forms and colors of urban society, can be seen in her most recent pieces, which mostly consist of creased sheet-metal panels, coated in bright mixtures of paint and resin, that seem to fold out from the wall. The three-dimensionality of her pieces causes light to bounce between the reflective panels and creates varying interpretations for viewers as they move about the piece. These subtle changes are what captivate viewers, ensuring each person has a completely different experience with every one of her pieces.
Lots of people on Instagram tend to stop us dead in our tracks as we slavishly scroll through our feed, but Peter Nencini has been one of those arresting image-makers since before the app even existed. An illustrator by training, Nencini did away with the confines of pen and paper after graduating from London’s Royal College of Art in the 1990s and today creates everything from typefaces to ad-hoc sculptures. A keen photographer, he has always recorded the stages of his process, first with a point-and-shoot and now with his iPhone, and has long been the proprietor of one of our favorite inspiration blogs. So when I suggested he walk me through 8 Things for Sight Unseen, the stipulation was that it had to be images from his Instagram, and we’d be digging into his thoughts on the app. He asked me to choose the shots, and then he explained them: That is how it went down.
Before we began Sight Unseen five years ago, Monica and I worked for the beautiful but now-defunct design magazine I.D. And though we were helping to run one of the most venerable design publications in the country, in hindsight, we were mere babies in terms of our design education. Which is perhaps why, when we received an entry to our annual competition for a molded plastic beach chair by a designer named Larry Laske back in 2008, the name failed to ring a bell. But maybe it wasn’t purely our ignorance. After all, Laske is the classic case of a behind-the-scenes designer who ought to be much more famous than he is. The creative mind behind two classic pieces for Knoll in his own right (the ‘90s-era Toothpick and Saguaro tables) Laske also worked for years alongside Ettore Sottsass, and designed incredible prototypes with some of the world’s most famous designers: Ingo Maurer, Philippe Starck, and Matteo Thun, among them. Next week at Wright, an online-only auction will be held to benefit Laske’s foundation, A Brain Tumor and A Dream.