The precision-machined brass bars lining the base of Mimi Jung and Brian Hurewitz’s Pepto-pink sofa? They’re a doggie jail. At least they were, conceptually speaking, intended to be; the couple lives with three dogs in Los Angeles’s Mt. Washington neighborhood, and Truffle, the most diminutive of the bunch, necessitated the arrangement. “If you give her six inches of space underneath anything, she’ll steal things from around the house and drag them in there,” says Jung. “I wanted to make a couch that had prison bars for her, so she couldn’t get in.” Granted Jung started out sketching metal poles and wound up creating a system of stunning, diagonally canted fins that subtly shift in appearance depending on one’s vantage point, but the sofa overall was — like much of Brook & Lyn’s work — designed to serve very specific, very personal needs. Since they moved from Brooklyn to L.A. a year and a half ago, Jung and Hurewitz have been populating the studio's portfolio with pieces they’ve created for themselves, and their new home.
There are people you meet in life to whom you feel a deep and immediate connection, so much so that the particulars of how and why you both arrived at the same place at the same time matter much less than the fact that you did. That’s pretty much how we feel about Su Wu, whose inspiring blog I’m Revolting we admired from afar for months before reaching out two years ago, asking her to collaborate, and becoming instant friends. Earlier this summer, however, when we found out that one of our favorite photographers would be visiting LA, we realized this was the perfect time to find out a bit more about the circumstances that led Wu to where she is right now, both philosophically and quite literally — the downtown LA loft she calls home.
Two things happen when you run a site that features as many beautiful interiors and objects as Sight Unseen does: One, people begin to seriously hit you up for interior design advice (which we can oblige, though please don’t ask us about the art on your walls!). Two, they start to wonder if they can sneak a peek inside your own space. So when we were recently asked to participate in IKEA’s brand-new “Show Us Your IKEA: The First 59” campaign — which focuses on how IKEA pieces can help make the most out of the first hour of your day — we thought this was as good a time as any to invite our readers into one of my favorite spaces and to share a bit of my own morning routine.
Seven years ago, when Page Neal and Anna Bario decided to relocate from New York and San Francisco respectively to work on a sustainably-minded line of jewelry, they chose Philadelphia because it was both affordable and close to New York City. “The decision to move here was a complete whim,” Neal told me over iced tea in her kitchen when I visited her South Philly home earlier this summer. “I didn’t know anyone and neither did Anna.” But the gamble paid off: The city, it turned out, had a thriving jewelry district where casting, engraving, and stone-setting workshops have sat above storefronts for generations. “It’s an amazing place for makers because small-scale manufacturing is really accessible,” Neal says.
London-based design experts Brent Dzekciorius and Marine Hartogs live in an incredible Camden loft with 15-foot window walls and individual gardens, but only 750 square feet to cram the items they’ve both accumulated as longtime design lovers and collectors.
When Monique Meloche took a chance on opening a Chicago gallery back in 2000, she launched with a show called Homewrecker, for which she invited 30 artists to exhibit over all three floors of her Ukrainian Village townhouse. The huge turnout prompted her to find a more permanent spot, as did gentle prodding from her husband. “He was like, ‘Sorry, I don’t want people sitting on my bed watching videos on Saturday when I come home from the gym.’” But while her home is no longer on public view, it remains a kind of lived-in display of contemporary paintings, photography, and sculptural works by artists she represents along with those she simply loves. We were lucky enough to visit recently and get to know Meloche a bit better.
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.”
Here at Sight Unseen, we tend to pride ourselves on the timeless nature of so many of our features. But if you look back at the first time we covered Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister, way back in 2010, the article is almost laughably out-of-date. For one, we called Seattle a city that’s “not exactly famous for its flourishing industrial design scene” — which is, of course, the premise behind this entire week. And as for Iacoli & McAllister? Back then, they were better known for powder-coated shop tools and cake pedestals than for the beautifully lightweight and sophisticated furniture that has become their signature (and they hadn’t even begun to make jewelry!). They were so very green back then — only having recently found vendors and retailers to make and sell their work — whereas now they’re like the éminence grise of the Seattle design scene, so entrenched in its visual identity that you can’t remember a time when they weren’t there. What hasn’t changed? When we interviewed them in 2010, the onetime couple had broken up but were still living together. Today, they’re still broken up and living together, though in the intervening years they spent three years living apart.
For most of us, stores are merely the fleeting destinations wherein we acquire our possessions, while homes are the more permanent spaces where we keep and lovingly display them. But for Jill Wenger, it’s the other way around: Ever since she moved to Seattle in 2001 and founded the cult boutique Totokaelo at just 26 years old, her store has been her material and spiritual base, while her living situation has remained mercurial. “I love change and generally don’t stay in any apartment or home longer than a year,” says the Texas native. Even as we interviewed her for this piece — which contains the first-ever published photos of one of her domestic interiors — she already had one foot out the door. Despite initially falling in love last May with her current apartment for its location — in Capitol Hill, three minutes away from Totokaelo — as well as its original hardwood floors and leaded-glass doors, Wenger is in the midst of searching for something new.
When you consider the range of projects designer Alyson Fox has carried off, you might wonder if there’s anything she can’t do: prints, illustration, jewelry, clothing, textiles, not to mention a book of portraits. While Fox has degrees in photography and sculpture, she says she never really had a preconceived idea “of what I wanted to do or what it would look like.”
You could say that photographer Laure Joliet is in the image business, but her work is about depth as much as surface. She has a way with spaces, rendering them intimate and mysterious at the same time, capturing the revealing detail you notice out of the corner of your eye. Though her subject is often interiors, a large part of her job involves getting to know people. “I spend the day with them and find out things I don’t know that you would normally get to find out, what they’re passionate about. It feels really satisfying to have that experience.”
Prop styling is a little bit like industrial design only in that some of its best practitioners never even realized it was a career until after they’d finished school. Such was the case with Rebecca Bartoshesky, an up-and-coming New York prop stylist who studied interior design at FIT.