While the Maine-based artist Elizabeth Atterbury has done amazing things with just simple shapes cut into paper and steel, lately she’s been getting a wee bit more ambitious — building a 3-by-4-foot sandbox in her studio and photographing compositions she’s raked into it, or using a bandsaw to carve grill bricks into arcs and zigzags then documenting the crumbly results. Aside from photography — which she studied in school — she also exhibits sculptures in clay and painted wood. You can see them in person now through May 10 at Colby College Art Museum in Waterville, Maine, or pick up a copy of Atterbury’s 2013 book with Bodega gallery, “In the Middle, an Oasis.”
While the furniture market seems to be enjoying a slower pace of late – with many brands safely coasting on a design language of minimal lines and adaptable colorways geared towards the notion of versatility in our homes – the international interiors show IMM Cologne brought a smattering of unexpected and pleasing discoveries. From bold, new homegrown brands and a hall designated entirely to up-and-coming designers, to the surprising use of color across the bigger, international halls (’70s-style honey beige, maroon, and green anyone?) we bring you our favorite launches from this, the first furniture trade show of the year.
Sydney-based artist Louise Zhang’s work is concerned not with the familiar straight lines of geometry, but with the lack of any distinct form. More simply, she works with blobs. Her attraction to the formless began with a childhood fascination with slime and goo. Building off the allure of all-things-goopy, her paintings and sculptures — made from materials ranging from acrylic, oil, enamel, resin, expanding polyurethane, gap filler, and silicone — explore the infinite transformations a shapeless form can possess. Add to this an intense candy-coated color palette and you’ve got a body of work that’s both unquestionably attractive and charmingly grotesque.
If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you know that we are, above all, sunshine-seeking people who happen to be inextricably linked to New York and its fickle seasons. Normally we leap at the chance to hightail it off the East Coast anytime between November and April, in search of beaches, pools, palm trees, and vitamin D. But somehow, while Monica and the rest of the design world headed to Miami at the beginning of December, I found myself saying yes to a week in Finland, home of 30-degree temperatures and 3PM sunsets. When I arrived, no fewer than three people delighted in telling me that the previous month in Finland had seen only 15 hours of sunshine.
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.