A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: a brilliant Belgian design fair, a predominantly Pomo Chicago auction, and beautiful domestic interiors from Berlin to Brooklyn.
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.
When it comes to design, it’s easy to forget about Indiana. Easy, but unfair — just ask anyone familiar with the legacy of Columbus natives Irwin and Xenia Miller, whose Eero Saarinen house is one of many architectural landmarks the pair commissioned in and around their hometown. Or ask the editors of Sight Unseen, who included not one but two Indiana-based talents in our American Design Hot List last week. One of them, Jonathan Nesci, debuted a project over the weekend that underscored both arguments: Invited by curator Christopher West to create a site-specific installation on the grounds of Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church — also a Miller commission — Nesci conceived the stunning project 100 Variations, consisting of 100 unique, mirror-polished tables aligned in a grid in the church’s courtyard. He developed the tables using the Golden Ratio, an ongoing preoccupation in his work that similarly informed Saarinen’s. We snagged the first photos of the installation, which was on view for only three days, then invited Matt Olson of the Minneapolis studio RO/LU to discuss the project — and its oft-overlooked setting — with Nesci. Read their conversation after the jump.
Italian product designer Valentina Cameranesi Sgroi worked as lead designer for Diesel Home — developing furniture and lighting for its collaborations with Moroso and Foscarini — for three years before becoming a freelance creative director in 2012. Since then, she’s also developed a personal body of work that includes video art, photography, and ceramics, exploring “the relationship between the natural and artificial.” Her latest project, Associations, is a series of vases that take inspiration from ’70s craftsmanship but with simple, expressive shapes that evoke Ettore Sottsass and the Italian artist Gino de Dominicis. All of the pieces in the collection are made by artisans in Veneto, Italy.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: Maybe it’s just the gloomy New York weather, but today we’re wishing we could be anywhere but here: a slice of Max Lamb’s terrazzo you can actually buy, a faux-fabric fireplace by Faye Toogood, and the coolest Marimekko pattern we’ve seen in ages.
This week we announced the 2014 American Design Hot List, Sight Unseen’s unapologetically subjective annual editorial award for the 25 names to know now in American design. We’re devoting an entire week to interviews with this year’s honorees — five per day — thanks to the support of Design Within Reach, a company that not only honors the seminal names in America’s design history, but also invests in those who will shape its future. Get to know our last five Hot List designers after the jump.