Leah Ring assumed it would take years — half a decade, maybe — to get her line of original furniture, objects, and clay jewelry off the ground. She had a full-time job as an interior designer, after all, and though she’d gained valuable manufacturing know-how in a previous stint at a Los Angeles furniture company, this was her first solo venture into the world of product design.
Yet that’s not quite how things turned out. After only a single, well-timed email, sent when we were in the midst of planning for this year’s Sight Unseen OFFSITE show, the designer landed herself a dedicated booth from which to launch her debut collection — a feat made possible by the support of Levi’s Made & Crafted, the denim brand’s elevated sister line, on whose Instagram we’ve often spotted some of our favorite makers and designers. Ring’s line, Another Human, included pieces like the Stacks Bench (meditation stones reimagined in lush gray velvet); the transparent acrylic Vacation Table (filled with black sand and Mexican obsidian), and the Tubular Magazine Rack, a fat-legged beauty that’s now for sale in our online shop.
Ring, who still works full time as an interior designer, first became interested in designing products while working at a Manhattan firm, years earlier. “I was buying things at Christie’s and Sotheby’s and was being exposed to this really high-end aesthetic,” she says. “But I was also learning that people were making things of this caliber in America. I’d been more familiar with finding really fine pieces in galleries in Europe or at auctions, but to see that level of craftsmanship coming out of New York? That’s when I thought, you can do this? For a living?”
Her own works represent striking and deeply thoughtful iterations on familiar forms, but there’s something brighter and more buoyant that binds them. “There’s a sort of playful geometry that’s present in all of my work, and I definitely hope that all of it communicates a sense of joy,” Ring says. She recently invited us into her Atwater home and studio to reflect on her space, her process, and the importance of play.
We featured Wary Meyers' incredible trove of finds in our 2012 book Paper View, and we were delighted to see some of those items pop up in the house tour Curbed published this week, including the Alex Tavoularis painting Linda's parents picked up at a Florida estate sale and the abstract canvases John was creating at the time. We've been tracking their home — a 1960s-era ranch that was renovated in the '80s — on Instagram since the couple bought it three years ago, and these pictures show the space in its full glory.
If the weirdness of Ellen Degeneres starting her own Project Runway–style furniture-design reality show didn't fully strike me when I first heard about it, a couple of months back, it definitely hit home shortly after the show first aired on HGTV last Monday night, when I got the following text from my mom: Do you know any of the designers on Ellen's Design Challenge? The weirdest part of all, of course, was that I did: Katie Stout, one of Sight Unseen's inaugural American Design Hot List picks and the winner of our own erstwhile design competition (our 2013 pumpkin-carving contest), is one of the show's six contestants. After watching the first episode myself, in which Stout introduces mainstream America to the squiggly cabinet above, we knew we had to get the full story from the designer. “It was really surreal,” she says of the experience.
Whither Johnson Trading Gallery? The New York design gallery — which in its heyday introduced an American audience to the work of contemporary designers like Max Lamb, Kwangho Lee, Katie Stout, Aranda/Lasch, and more (not to mention Rafael de Cárdenas's epic first furniture collection) — had been relatively quiet of late. Now we know why: Earlier this month, it was announced that while JTG will continue selling vintage work, the contemporary artists in their stable will be absorbed into a new program at one of our favorite art galleries, Salon 94.