What They Bought
Mociun, Brooklyn

Caitlin Mociun may have been the author of a cult-hit fashion line for only a few years, but the lessons she learned from that stint — about the way she wants a customer to feel, or about the way a body moves in space — inform nearly everything she does today. That first becomes clear when she talks about her massively successful fine jewelry line, which she launched almost as a palliative to her days as a clothing designer. “I never really liked doing my clothing line, and when I switched to jewelry it was such a different response,” Mociun told me earlier this fall when I visited her year-old Williamsburg boutique. “It seemed to make people feel good about themselves as opposed to clothing, which often makes people feel bad.”

But it’s when she talks about her boutique that you realize that nothing in the shop could be the way it is if Mociun weren’t first a designer. On the layout of her shop, which is more gallery-like than not, with textiles on the walls or sculptures often on the floor, she says: “It’s about people coming in and saying, ‘Can I touch this?’ and seeing adults crouched down on the ground.” As for the way she curates her selection of goods: “For me, it’s first visual impact. Then, what’s it trying to do? Is it just trying to be an art object? If it’s functional, does it work? How does it feel when you’re holding it? If it’s a cup, does it get too hot if you put tea in it? Is it really fragile? I get equally upset when something is badly designed and beautiful, or super functional and really ugly.”

That may all sound a bit anal (which Mociun admits she is) but what it translates to when you visit the shop is a totally freeing experience where you do have permission to get down on the ground — which I indulged to take some of these pictures — and to a selection of wares that’s one of the best in New York, in part because it’s not the same things you see in every design store even if the names are familiar. Here’s a tour of some of our favorites.

Be sure to check out Mociun’s Triangle Pillows, covered in fabric remannts from her clothing line, for sale in the Sight Unseen Shop!

 

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A view inside Mociun’s Williamsburg boutique. The interior was designed by Mociun in collaboration with fellow Brooklyn designers Fort Standard, who did the shop’s ash wood display tables and jewelry cases. “The furniture is beautiful but it’s also about it disappearing and being a beautiful platform for the things on it,” Mociun explains. “I didn’t want the store to be this space where you walk in and there’s such a strong vibe.”

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Mociun carries some familiar names, but there are others who feel totally unique to her aesthetic. Suzanne Sullivan, who created this carved slip porcelain tumbler, is one of them. “I had been looking at another ceramic artist’s work, but she was overburdened with orders and said there was another artist in the studio that I might want to check out. That was Suzanne. I went over to her house and chatted with her and her lovely family. I love her work; it’s delicate but not overly sentimental.”

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“Suzanne is a actually a schoolteacher, but she’s also an obsessive maker. For a dinner party a few years ago, she made 300 of these pinch bowls. When I went to her house to pick bowls, she brought out a whole basket.”

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Spoons by Suzanne Sullivan.

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Hand-carved porcelain finger by Genesis Balenger. “She’s a really amazing craftsperson. She’s made ceramic cigarettes, ceramic sandwiches, paper flowers that look almost real but then you realize are obviously fake. I really like that about her. It’s interesting because she likes for people to tell her what to do; to have them give her the idea and then she makes it. It’s rare to find an artist who will admit that.”

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Ceramic sculpture by Los Angeles–based artist Morgan Peck. “I first saw Morgan's work on a blog and emailed her; at the same time I got a look book of sorts in the mail from her. I guess we kind of found each other.”

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Another sculpture by Peck, though this one I found nestled on the floor in a corner of the store.

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Mociun collaborated earlier this fall with Brooklyn designer Doug Johnston on a black gradation-dyed version of his rope baskets. “Part of me does care about having stuff that no one else has; I want people to come in here and discover something. I love Doug’s work, but it’s everywhere now.” She’s begun to work around that kind of ubiquity by engaging in collaborations with more in-demand designers.

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With Baggu, for example — another line that seems to have popped up in every hip new boutique — Mociun specifies her own colors of leather and has the company emboss the bags with her Mociun logo stamp.

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Necklaces by Samma, Iacoli & McAllister, and Alyson Fox. MCMC Fragrances atop a hexagonal mirrored tray by Mociun. Ceramic chain by Eric Bonnin.

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Basket (right) by Doug Johnston. Ceramics by Eric Bonnin and Shino Takeda. “Shino never makes anything the same. I had her make a set of cups as a wedding gift for someone and even those, they went together but none of them were the same. That’s what’s really nice about her work.”

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Vintage Harlequin salt-and-pepper shakers and Futagami brass Moon trivet atop Mociun custom triangle tray. Mociun gets tons of inquiries about trays but alas they’re not for sale. “Gold glass is just so expensive. I could make you one but it would take a couple of weeks and cost like a million dollars.”

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Japanese turned-wood cup and Courtney Puckett mixed-media sculpture.

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One of my favorite things in the shop were these geometric-handled switchblades and carving knives by Santa Fe Stoneworks. “They’re just an old-school company and so nice,” says Mociun.

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The cups in the foreground are by Robert Blue, whom Mociun sells a ton of. “I saw an image of one of his mugs two years ago on the blog Intelligent Clashing. I ended up buying some bowls from his online store, and when I was planning on opening the store I ordered a few of his pieces to stock. We sold almost everything the first week we opened.” In the background is a blue bead and brass necklace Mociun originally designed for Sight Unseen with her frequent collaborator, the Seattle artist Katy Krantz.

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A case of Mociun’s fine jewelry. “With the clothing, I was concerned about sustainability for so long, and it’s nice that with jewelry you don’t have to get the new whatever every six months. I don’t feel like I have to pressure people anymore. It’s expensive, I get it. It makes me feel like less of a pushy salesperson, and it’s freed up time for me to do other stuff I like.”

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A stack of Krantz/Mociun jewelry hangs from a structure that also displays Mociun’s colorfully printed fabric, which though it's no longer sold in wearable form, is now available by the yard — and as triangular pillows exclusively sold in the Sight Unseen shop.