Jacques_Mies

Phantom: Mies as Rendered Society by Andrés Jaque

Considering Mies van der Rohe designed the 1929 Barcelona Pavilion to emphasize transparency and freedom of movement, you've got to hand it to the Spanish architect Andrés Jaque for his genius new exhibition "Phantom: Mies as Rendered Society," which plumbs the one part of the building that's always been both hidden and completely off limits to the public: its basement. When we spotted these images of the show on Dezeen last week, complete with broken window panes in the reflecting pool and an industrial vacuum on the patio, we kind of lost it — talk about sights unseen! Jaque's installation, the latest in a series of Barcelona Pavilion interventions by designers like SANAA and Ai Weiwei, takes what's basically an overlooked yet significant refuse pile and transforms it into something unmistakably gorgeous.
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De Intuitiefabriek's slipcast tableware sets played with pigmentation (the cobalt pigment being the most expensive) as well as finishing techniques like glazing and hand-applied decorative touches.

Objects for Sale, at Dutch Design Week

In our recap of the most recent Dutch Design Week on Monday, we alluded to the economic quagmire that’s been enveloping the Netherlands' insanely prolific creative class. But one of the week’s exhibitions actually addressed the crisis head-on: Objects for Sale, which asked eight designers to create products within three price brackets (<€50, €50-500, >€500) and to explain how choices within their design and production processes affected the bottom line.
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Alex Valder

Reflections on Form at Helmrinderknecht

Last week, while we were muddling through a natural disaster that sent one of us to live in a hotel for two weeks (destroying a four-year archive of I.D. magazines in the process) and the other one out to Queens to try to help other storm victims who are still in the dark, we found a small and welcome ray of sunshine in our inboxes. The "Reflections on Form" exhibition that opened at Europe's roving Helmrinderknecht gallery on Friday is a kind of coincidental corollary to the Moss auction at Phillips we featured two weeks ago: Both exhibits make simple, formal comparisons between great works of design and great works of art, with the only difference we can see being Helmrinderknecht's skew towards younger, newer talents.
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Tomáš Král, Spring Mirror. "Shaped by a colored cord, Spring is a series of flexible mirrors that are thin like a sheet of paper."

Zrcadlo: The Mirror by Okolo

If you go strictly by the numbers, nearly any product typology could be said to be having a moment at the Milan Furniture Fair each year. Sofas? There are always hundreds. Cabinets? Wall clocks? Yup, those too. But scan the recent fairs not just for mirrors but for amazing mirrors, and you might be inclined to agree with Adam Štěch and Klára Šumová, curators of a show at this week's Prague's Designblok festival that reflects on the genre's recent creative uptick. (These three hand mirrors alone totally slay us.) "The exhibition not only brings together our friends from the design world but also tries to define the typology of a mirror based on quite varied styles and design approaches," says Štěch, one of three co-founders behind the creative agency and online magazine OKOLO. He and Šumová comissioned 30 designers — 15 of them international and 15 Czech — to design a new mirror for the installation, from Maxim Velčovský's wall mirror bordered by cheap plastic store-bought varieties to Marco Dessí's mirror that doubles as the top for a jewelry box.
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Fredrik_Paulsen

Örnsbergsauktionen at Stockholm Design Week

If you live in Chicago, and you’re interested in buying the self-produced, often prototypical work of today’s younger design generation, you might head to Sam Vinz and Claire Warner’s pop-up Volume Gallery, or maybe to Wright auction house. If you’re in New York or London, it’s Phillips de Pury. But Stockholm? “We really didn’t have a place like this,” says Fredrik Paulsen, a young Swedish designer, RCA grad, and co-creator of the Örnsbergsauktionen, a self-produced auction of 48 unique contemporary items launching this Friday in conjunction with Stockholm Design Week.
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opener

Substitutes at Berlin-Weekly

Peer through the window of the narrow, unassuming storefront space at 160 Linienstrasse in Berlin this week — which, like Maurizio Cattelan's once perpetually shuttered Wrong Gallery, allows for little more than such a glance — and you may feel perplexed at the seemingly disparate objects scattered about its plinths. Toasters, ash trays, broomsticks, plastic spiders: not your typical fare for a gallery like Berlin-Weekly, which normally invites one artist or designer per week to create an elaborate installation piece behind its locked doors for the enjoyment of passersby. During this year's Berlin Design Week, however, owner and curator Stefanie Seidl decided to shift the proposition a bit, partnering with designer Fabian Baumann to ask 40 creatives for two personal objects exploring the theme of "Substitutes"; say, a rolled-up magazine when no fly-swatter is handy, or a spider in lieu of coffee (read on to figure out what we mean by that one). The results will be visible in the Berlin-Weekly space from June 1 to 28, but you can see a portion of its contents in the excerpt below.
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Uhuru helped Sight Unseen transform the ground floor of 45 Great Jones into a four-day pop-up shop featuring the work of more than 35 designers. The weekend's biggest sellers included Tanya Aguiniga’s dip-dyed rope jewelry and Chen Chen and Kai Williams’ creepy but awesome Cold Cut Coasters, made from studio detritus like resin and rope.

Noho Design District 2011

When the Sight Unseen and Uhuru teams rolled up the grate and entered the Great Jones Lumber building on Monday, May 9, it was like déjà vu all over again — one full year after we'd closed the door on the inaugural Noho Design District, the space's vast rooms were as dark, empty, and beautifully raw as when we first laid eyes on them, but with half-disassembled wooden signs, wayward Macallan cups, and other stray remains of the 2010 festivities still intact. The weight of all the work that lay ahead immediately hit us: four long days of manual labor in order to breathe life back into the building, to transform it from its dormant state into the hub of the 2011 Noho event, where the work of more than 100 designers would be on display for four days.
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For "Achille is Watching Us," Krzykowski and Lorusso collected personal objects from 32 different European and American designers, displaying them in the ground-floor storefront of a small historical building in Milan where the marble used to make the Duomo was once polished. Each item was accompanied by a story written by the designer about how they had acquired it and why they had hung onto it. Fifteen of those stories are posted in the following slides.

Achille is Watching Us

There were thousands of exhibitions going on in Milan two weeks ago, when the annual furniture fair took over the city, stuffing its subway cars and panini shops full of hungover design tourists. But in terms of sheer number of designers represented per square foot, one emerged a clear winner: “Achille is Watching Us,” for which the young designer and journalist Matylda Krzykowski and architect Marco Gabriele Lorusso managed to corral no less than 32 marquis names — Nacho Carbonell, Peter Marigold, and Bless among them — into an empty shopfront no larger than the average New Yorker’s bedroom. That’s because the pair, after being offered the space for free by the building’s wealthy and culturally savvy owner, decided not to show any design inside it all. Instead, they asked the talents Krzykowski had befriended through her blog, Mat&Me, to each contribute one small personal belonging and tell the story behind it. “Milan is so commercial — it’s about retailing and selling,” Krzykowski explains. “You get so caught up in looking at what’s new that you get lost in it. This year we decided to turn it around, to look at the things that are really important.”
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"The table, with its cushioned surface on which everything rests softly, is an image of future. It is supposed to create a feeling of lightness, meditation, curiosity, and have an expression of self-confidence. Squeezed in between past and future is now, symbolized in the lamp fixture that rests on the thin glass bulbs, either on the floor or against the wall. What is now is frail and vulnerable. The past must be accepted, although there is a measure of potential change in the future."

The Matter of Things, by Beckmans College of Design Students

Attend an event like the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which is packed with designs by fresh-faced students and recent graduates, and you're bound to see furniture so conceptual it borders on fine art (if not naiveté or cliché). That's because students at some of the best design schools around the world are taught not just how to make things, but also how to think creatively and develop narratives — Stockholm's Beckmans College of Design among them. Thirteen members of its current graduating class exhibited together at the city's furniture fair this week, and rather than developing a suite of beautifully variegated chairs like a neighboring booth from the Lund Institute of Technology, they did some serious and deliberate navel-gazing in an attempt to develop furniture capable of manipulating its own emotional connection with users. Called "The Matter of Things," the project asked each of its participants to choose an abstract problem to solve — like bonding, treasuring memories, or making physical contact — and embody it in a not-quite-as-abstract form. Not all of the results are particularly life-changing, but they do demonstrate the kind of thought processes that eventually lead to greatness.
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Box divided into twenty compartments: “I think this came from some kind of dentist — there was stuff in each compartment at some point, little remnants of fillings and other things. That’s what I love about objects that have been removed from their original context: There’s a reason why they were made a certain way, but when you take that reason away they’re just decoratively beautiful and unknowable objects.”

A to B at Toronto’s MKG127

There’s no object too mundane to catch Micah Lexier’s eye. He collects scraps torn off cardboard boxes, envelopes and papers lying in the street, even bathroom-cleaning checklists at restaurants — anything that deals with the passage of time or with systems, the driving forces behind his own work as an artist. “I love garbage day,” he says. “It’s hard for me to walk home and not find things. I keep a knife in my pocket just in case.” It’s not that Lexier necessarily uses these found items in his own pieces, like the 1994 series in which he photographed 75 men from age 1 to 75, all of whom were named David. They’re just another part of his lifelong fascination with the aesthetics of order, a way of seeing the world that was mapped out perfectly in the show he recently curated at Toronto’s MKG127 gallery, where curiosities from his collection sat alongside sequentially themed works by other artists.
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45 Great Jones: In honor of its 5th anniversary, New York design producer Areaware refashioned the first floor of this empty lumber warehouse into an exhibition space.

Noho Design District

Even non-New Yorkers know Soho, the swath of land below Houston Street in Manhattan, colonized by artists in the '60s and now the domain of the rich and the retail-obsessed. Noho, on the other hand, still flirts with obscurity, despite having been home to some of the city's most legendary artists — Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank Stella, and Chuck Close, to name a few — as well as its first Herzog and de Meuron building. Sure, as an emerging neighborhood with several hotels on the rise, its streets are often crisscrossed with ungainly spiderwebs of scaffolding, but beneath that lies a creative energy so strong we at Sight Unseen figured it would be the perfect place to create a new satellite destination during New York design week: the Noho Design District. All of the elements were already there.
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Annie Lenon: "I challenged myself to create a structure from as few materials as possible that still captured movement, tension and balance. This mobile is made from strips of bass wood wrapped in metallic and silk threads.”

New Useless Machines at Oak & Rogan

Back in January, when we first began contemplating how we would program Noho Design District — the just-completed four-day design extravaganza produced and curated by Sight Unseen and held in conjunction with New York’s ICFF — one thing was clear: Come hell or high water, we’d find a way to pull off an exhibition we’d been obsessing over for months, ever since the re-release last summer of the 1966 Bruno Munari classic Design As Art. Among the late Italian designer’s musings, photos, diagrams, and sketches, we were reminded of his childlike fascination with hanging mobiles — or as he calls them, useless machines.
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