JOLIET-iris-final-2453

The Glass-Walled LA Loft of New Fashion Brand Everybody is Anything But Basic

As former creative leads at American Apparel, it’s no surprise that Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo have an idiosyncratic sense of what counts as basic. After all, these are the women who visually defined a generation by re-proportioning denim and T-shirts into high-waisted mom jeans and plunging V-necks. In leggings as pants and a rainbow array of unitards — and in a now-notorious series of advertisements — was the sense that wearing a uniform could be outré, as well as an embrace of ease that paved the way for the subsequent movements of athleisure and normcore. The duo's new line follows suit: EVERYBODY, a collection of unisex, seasonless basics ranging from a white cotton flightsuit to a perfect garment-dyed denim work coat. We recently visited them in their studio.
More
Rachel Duvall Textiles studio visit. Photography by Laure Joliet

Los Angeles Textile Artist Rachel Duvall

Since moving to Los Angeles five years ago, the artist Rachel Duvall has been refining an almost scientific approach to handweaving, based as much in foundational considerations like hue and line as in methodical chemical experimentation. She uses only natural dyes and modifiers such as copper and iron to “investigate the subtlety of colors,” she says, though the range she achieves — including a bright neon yellow and purple from fermented lichen she collects herself and then brews in her backyard — is striking.
More
red_cups_opener

Matthias Kaiser, artist

I had a long conversation over email this week with Matthias Kaiser, whose masterful ceramic work was a personal highlight of the show I curated for Sight Unseen OFFSITE earlier this year. The exchange reaffirmed my sometimes-waning faith in ceramics, or in anything that suddenly becomes so widely hyped that it can feel like we’re too busy being professionals to remember what struck us through about the practice in the first place. Kaiser, who now lives in the Austrian countryside having previously apprenticed with Japanese master potters and spent a combined two years traveling on the Indian subcontinent, speaks with the deep humility that comes with not taking shortcuts — with digging for your own clay, for example, or moving to Isfahan to study Sufi mysticism. He compares himself to “bad clay,” talks about how losses are a part of the game, and makes a joke about beards.
More
Dzwonkoski, Julia and Kye Potter_Backyard, 2011

“Another Cats Show” at 356 Mission

“Another Cats Show” may have started as a one-liner, but that doesn’t mean it fails to land the joke. The exhibition, which closed this week at the Los Angeles gallery 356 Mission, included feline-themed pieces from 301 artists and proved that what they say about die-hard cat lovers is pretty much true: They may be crazy, but they also totally mean it. “People assume cats will be funny,” says Ooga Booga founder Wendy Yao, a partner in the space. “It is casual and inclusive, and gives artists a chance to do something not quite as monumental.”
More
Pouches from Collection One by Otaat/Myers Collective, which will soon expand into larger accessories and housewares. For Chu, the classic example of a subtle intervention is “the box with a twist, where maybe creating one parametric surface may be all you need to generate a series of inventive solutions across the design. This practice is how we both approach our individual projects as well as our collaboration.”

Otaat / Myers Collective

If the best reason to know the rules is to be smarter about breaking them, then consider the year-old collaboration between designers Albert Chu and Jennifer Myers not so much a violent upheaval but an exercise in playfully tweaking the system. Chu and Myers met while studying at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design — an institution they say reinforced their respect for constraints — and each worked in architecture and launched an accessories line before combining their shared pedagogy into a series of leather and brass pouches. “I think working within, and rebelling against, a set of parameters is actually the ultimate in design fun,” Myers says. Chu agrees: “We love working with fundamentals and trying to introduce a slight deviation,” says the designer of Otaat, which stands for “one thing at a time.” “Harvard was about being restrained in the conceptual and design intervention, that sometimes the most effective and thorough result could arise from a minimal, subtle act.”
More
In between detailed recommendations for various anti-psychotics, a favorite professor once told me about a legendary ceramic bowl that had been made in a single motion. Basically, someone held a lump of clay in one hand and then punched it. That’s it. I’ve thought about that bowl a lot in the intervening years — the effort and refusal. I find myself being drawn repeatedly to echoes of that idea, including this work by Los Angeles-based potter Andrew Kazakes, who makes the same deceptively simple forms over and over again. They’re inspired by “waves crashing against the shore,” using glazes that respond to the vagaries of heat.

The I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop

Ceramicists know how to deal with heartbreak — these are artists, after all, who make something they love and then willingly throw it into a fire. So while the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop that I've curated for Sight Unseen OFFSITE — opening at noon this Friday at 200 Lafayette in Soho — is in many ways a survey of talented young people working today in clay, it’s also a small tribute to the beauty in unpredictability and letting go. Unlike painting or weaving or most other mediums, potters don’t get to see the thing complete in front of them as they work. They shape a piece of clay with their hands and then give it over to the heat of the universe. And though this sounds totally cheeseball, that might be why I love it so much — that every piece carries in it some accident. The range of work in the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop is a reminder of this possibility in imperfection: our perpetual struggle to take the same stuff there has ever been – mud and fire, failure and ambition – and create of it something distinctly personal.
More
Helvey’s living room, with a wood-frame couch her boyfriend built around a child’s Ikea mattress and an apricot silk pillow by Electric Feathers from Totokaelo. Of the apartment, she says: “We instantly fell in love with the French windows and fireplace. What really sold us, though, was the location. It makes such a huge difference to be near a great supermarket and have the luxury of walking to work.”

Ashley Helvey’s Seattle Home is a Stylist’s Dream

At this point, simplicity can seem like a tired mantra or an admonishment, an extra layer of guilt heaped over our misdirections. Isn’t it enough that our cluttered thoughts keep us up at night? Do we have to feel bad about it, too? So it’s especially heartening that for Seattle-based stylist Ashley Helvey, simplicity is something else entirely: a look so easy that it serves as encouragement. “A lot of the imagery I’m inspired by online is just a piece of fabric or a cinderblock,” says Helvey, who is editorial creative director for Totokaelo, overseeing everything from photo shoots to social media. “They are really simple things that you could actually execute. Having a simple aesthetic is actually pretty tangible.”
More
square-LR_606x596

Henny Nistelrooy on I’m Revolting

Like so many small-town kids before him, Henny van Nistelrooy didn’t move to just any city. He moved to the most tightly layered and epochally dense cities he could find, the sorts of places that have already had a dozen lifetimes. After graduating from London's Royal College of Art, Van Nistelrooy launched his design studio in London in 2008 and then moved to Beijing, another capital with more than a bit of historical fiber. They’re fitting locales for Van Nistelrooy’s textile process of taking seemingly finished material and slowly unraveling the threads for an entirely new weave.
More
A still-life by studiomate Stephanie Gonot and leftover yellow set piece from a job for Apple. Working with clients “is actually really exciting,” Goodrich says. “In a way, there are fewer choices, but more decisions to really be precise about.”

Adi Goodrich, Set Designer

Instead of making things as a way to survive obsolescence, the physical remainders that will outlast us all, Adi Goodrich’s work lives for only a few days before being broken back down into pieces. “I’m not really into all that ego of trying make stuff that stays forever,” the Los Angeles-based designer admits. “I’m much more interested in the cycle of creativity, in making things happen, and surrounding myself with everyone who wants to come with.” Which means that Goodrich, who was just honored with an Art Directors Club “Young Guns” award, might have willed herself into a perfect job: set design.
More
A reprieve for those of us who faced down a sad void when Iko Iko closed last month: the inspirational retailer is back for Arts ReSTORE, introducing their signature mix of Japanese picks and one-of-a-kind functional art pieces to Westside audiences. Items on table include silver keep-cold lunch bags, a corn fiber broom, handwoven fabric scrap slippers and sanyaso bashi ceramic planters “for casual plants.”

Hammer Museum’s Arts ReSTORE

For all of the handwringing about art being inaccessible, there’s no city planning theory that has gained more traction in this century than the idea of creative people driving neighborhood revitalization. Which means that the descriptively titled “Arts ReSTORE: LA” project isn’t just loftily ambitious. The month-long residency program, which began last week, might actually work at creating a less sterile West Los Angeles, not least because it is supported by the powerhouse Hammer Museum, whose three-story compound anchors one end of the street. On a stretch of Westwood Ave., better known for chain sandwich shops and fluorescent interiors, the Hammer offered a half-dozen empty storefronts to local artists and makers, with the idea that even a temporary infusion would upend the retail mood of the area. If the packed opening night was any indication, this time the theory holds. Here’s what we saw.
More
A half-finished piece on the loom. Matson draws inspiration from ethnographic textiles, the history of modernism, and their intersecting histories. “Abstraction gives you this space as the viewer to wade around in the work and draw your own conclusions. That’s what I respond to in work I like as well.”

Christy Matson, Textile Artist

In the parallel universe of false starts, where every cabinet is filled with tools you’ll never use again and every heart with ideas that didn’t stick, artist Christy Matson is a welcome presence, a reminder that sometimes lost things have a way of finding you again. Matson bought her first loom before she’d ever woven, certain that she would take immediately to the repetition and logic of it: “I was, like, I’m going to love weaving, I just know it! I had never met a textile-related process I didn't like,” Matson says. “And then I took a weaving class the next semester and hated it. I thought, this is it? This is boring.”
More
Instead of light, Levine’s wall hangings cast shadows. She’s starting to experiment a bit with color in the pieces — which she sells at Lawson-Fenning in Los Angeles — and with incorporating natural elements, including a perfectly cold-bleached stick she found at the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia.

Heather Levine, Ceramic Artist

If designers are especially complicit in adding things to the world — and for stoking our desire for more and more stuff — they also get first dibs on the act of destruction. “I smash my own pieces all the time,” says Los Angeles-based ceramic artist Heather Levine. “You have to make quite a bit to get what you like, and I don’t keep all the tests. I’ll destroy them or try to make them into something else. I don’t want to see things in the world that I’m not happy about.”
More