There’s no real way to put this delicately: It can be somewhat difficult getting Ross Menuez to focus. Talk to the designer of the fashion label Salvor Projects for an hour, and your conversation might touch upon everything from the migratory patterns of birds to the intricacies of intarsia; ask him about his process, and he’s apt to fret instead about what to do with the signage for his first retail shop, which opened last week on a sleepy stretch of New York’s Lower East Side. His career has been equally hopscotched: He’d built houses for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, designed under Tom Dixon at Habitat, and run a metal shop in Brooklyn before finally, a few years back, committing himself fully to the world of fashion, complete with seasonal presentations and showroom representation.
But as with any talent whose creativity flows faster than the mind can apprehend, it’s the unscripted aspect of Menuez’s work that makes it so compelling — you never know quite what to expect. In the eight years that have passed since Salvor Projects was founded in 2003, its offerings have encompassed Japanese-inspired steel-toe work boots; screen-printed balsa-wood wall hangings; flat-pack, laser-cut metal lampshades; polyurethane-coated roll-top canvas bags; and a cultishly popular line of printed modal jersey dresses, scarves, tees, and tanks that sell at stores like Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Project no. 8.
Menuez, though, was once rightly advised that customers would never fully understand the brand if they couldn’t see it all under one roof, and so the seeds of a store began last fall. Menuez found a co-designer and business partner in Nick Dine — an old friend who’s created retail interiors for Calypso, Stussy, and Kirna Zabête — and a location in a 400-square-foot storefront that’s a block away from New York’s Half Gallery and a few doors up from Menuez’s current Lower East Side studio. “The beauty of the store is that we’re basically going to make shit that we like for the first time,” says Menuez. “With production, once you make a large batch of something, you’re done. By the time something hits the market, you’re already over it. At the store we can make one of something and try it out, and you can perfect a piece as you go. There’s also this unexpected green side to it. It’s kind of like when you’re making a meal and you can use every single thing in your fridge. Don’t have enough fabric to make multiples? Cool, let’s just make one kimono.”
Sight Unseen visited Menuez’s studio last winter, when the designer was just figuring out his plan for the store and its inventory, which includes a new line of jeans sourced from Cone’s Mill in North Carolina and treated with plaster-like effects. You can visit the new Salvor store at 172 Forsyth in New York, and you can tour the designer’s jam-packed, ephemera-filled studio in the slideshow at right.
Things have changed quite a bit since we began Sight Unseen eight years ago, but one interview question has remained steadfast in our arsenal: Who are your biggest influences? And while the same answers tend to pop up often enough — Barbara Hepworth, Agnes Martin, Luis Barragán, Donald Judd — there's one name that seems to get checked more than anyone else: Josef Albers, the 20th-century artist, educator, and designer, whose book, Interaction of Color, is one of the most essential design texts ever written. But in a new exhibition at the Guggenheim, Josef Albers in Mexico, one of Albers's own greatest influences is laid bare.
There's been a glut of cookbooks lately with as much a foot in the art and design world as they do the food (see Nacho Alegre and Peter Shire's amazing photography collab in the recent Sqirl book, for starters). But perhaps no author has meshed the two worlds together as effortlessly and as completely as Julia Sherman, the artist behind the immensely popular blog Salad for President, whose cookbook of the same name was released last month and which we're excerpting here today.
Since receiving a second degree from the storied Cranbrook Academy of Art — alumni of which include Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Florence Knoll — Ania Jaworska has been living in Chicago, working as a professor and developing a practice and a body of work that spans art, design, and architecture, more often than not finding her surest footing at the point where all three intersect.