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Morgan Peck at Totokaelo

When Jill Wenger opened the first incarnation of the Seattle store Totokaelo in 2003, she had a few goals: showcasing the work of local designers, improving choices for all-weather gear. But as she grew to be the most fashion-forward resource in the city, she took on the more important mandate of helping to raise Seattle’s style profile in general, banishing annoying sartorial habits like square-toed shoes, embroidery, and pleather handbags. While there’s still work to be done in that arena, this year — with the opening of her massive new store and its “Art—Object” component — Wenger expanded her tastemaking activities beyond the body and into the home. Her stable contains more than a few of our favorite players, from Philip Low to Seattle’s hometown heroes Iacoli & McAllister, but months ago, it was Morgan Peck who really caught our eye. Not only was the ceramicist suddenly showing up on shelves at Iko Iko and Mociun, among others, there was almost no information about her on the web. And so we invited Wenger to take a stab at interviewing the Los Angeles–based talent for our Peer Review column.
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Milena Silvano on Intelligent Clashing

Rhiannon Gilmore's posts on Intelligent Clashing often begin with a tiny nugget of an idea — a pattern, a color, a shape — that after a bit of research flourishes into a loose, visually driven narrative. In her most recent post, though, the nugget wasn't so much tiny as nearly floor-length: a beautifully draped woven silk poncho trimmed with fringe and edged with reclaimed and antique textiles. The poncho was the creation of Milena Silvano, a UK stylist-turned-slow fashion enthusiast who's become something of an obsession for Gilmore in recent weeks: "For some time I’d been wondering: Where were the UK designers producing small, slow collections like those coming out of the States? I was thinking along the lines of ERMIE or Wiksten — collections that hold the personalities and the passions of the women who make them and are small enough to feel truly intimate and exclusive, in a warm wholesome way. I’d started to think there just wasn’t anyone working in this way here in the UK, and then I found Milena Silvano."
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Caroline Achaintre on Arcademi

The biggest reason why we love our new Peer Review column: because it lets us heap mountains of credit onto blogs like Arcademi — the source of more of our "holy shit" moments than almost any other site — while giving us good reason to borrow their content. Namely, the opportunity to hear their subjects wax poetic about things like hairy tufting and multiple personalities, like today's subject, Caroline Achaintre. We were lucky enough to convince Arcademi editor Moritz Firchow to interview the London-based artist, who trained as a blacksmith before finding her way to a multidisciplinary practice inspired by the way German expressionism, post-war British sculpture, and Primitivism merge influences from both ancient and modern culture.
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With Eric Timothy Carlson, Artist

Certain people, whenever they mention an artist or a designer or an exhibition you've never heard of, make your ears automatically prick up — some might call them tastemakers, we suppose, though that word sounds too jargony to our ears. Regardless, we here at Sight Unseen like to believe that maybe, just maybe, we fulfill that type of role for even just a few of our more devoted followers — and of course we have our own hallowed sources of information, like Kristin Dickson of Iko Iko and Patrick Parrish of Mondo Cane/Mondo Blogo, both of whom have a knack for sending us into a flurry of OMGs. When Parrish announced he was mounting a fall show of art by Eric Timothy Carlson, whose name we only barely recognized from a collaboration with our friends at ROLU, our first thought was, "We need to interview this man!" Our second was, "But we know nothing about him," and so in the spirit of discovery, we devised a series of top-five lists by which Carlson might introduce himself and his Memphis-inflected work to both us and our readers. Check out his incredibly detailed responses here, then rush over to see Building Something: Tearing it Down at Mondo before it closes this Wednesday.
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Future Eyes on I’m Revolting

When we first began following the inspiration blog mysteriously known as I'm Revolting, we knew we'd found a kindred spirit, at least aesthetically. (If you're even the slightest fan of our Pinterest, you should know that many of our posts originate with I'm Revolting's boards, or result from tumbling down the internet rabbit hole after reading one of her posts.) But it was only when we asked the Los Angeles–based blogger — whose real name is Su Wu — to pen one of our Q&A columns that we truly knew we'd stumbled upon one of our own: A former journalist who threw the contents of her interior world online after the publication for which she was writing folded, Wu is an image collector, a thinker, and a fantastic writer to boot. Today for Sight Unseen she interviews Brent Pearson, the artist behind a heavy, handmade pair of kaleidoscopic glasses known as Future Eyes.
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With Martin Lorenz, Co-Editor of Pretty Ugly

There are moments, when leafing through the pages of Gestalten's latest opus Pretty Ugly, that you'll feel a little perplexed. Not by the stretched and layered type that practitioners of the New Ugly graphics movement use to obscure the messages contained in their work, nor by the fact that brands and organizations are trying to sell themselves with these deliberately obtuse images. What you'll find so confusing, rather, is just how beautiful most of the projects appear, despite their creators' best attempts at visual rebellion — a fact acknowledged by the book's editors, Lupi Asensio and Martin Lorenz of the Barcelona-based firm twopoints.net, in its oxymoronic title.
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Misaki Kawai, Artist

Misaki Kawai's work is insane. In a good way. When Sweden's LOYAL gallery sent us these images from her new solo show, "Wet Shiny Surprise," we were taken with their use of geometry and pattern — not to mention their resemblance to Memphis design — but we had no idea the Japanese-born, New York–based artist also made paintings of weightlifting robots, surfing octopuses, and people pooping in the woods. What unites all of Kawai's art, from the beautiful to the bizarre, is her talent for blending childlike imagery with absurdist humor, a quality she suspects might have something to do with spending her childhood in Osaka, the center of Japan's comedy scene. But to the extent that her pieces seem like windows onto a strange and addictive parallel world, she gets most of her inspiration from navigating this one: After a post-graduate trip to Turkey, Nepal, and Thailand left her "greatly influenced by handmade dolls, textiles, and low-quality manufactured objects," Kawai began traveling regularly, collecting both physical and experiential scraps and incorporating them into her paintings and sculptures. When we interviewed her for this story, she had just finished opening the show at LOYAL and had moved on to Beijing and Mongolia, where she was riding camels and investigating the local dress. What she'll do with that fodder, we can only imagine.
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Faye Toogood on Assemblage 3, for Phillips de Pury

When we — and the rest of the design world — were first introduced to her at the 2009 London Design Festival, Faye Toogood already seemed like Superwoman: Having just left her post as a stylist at the UK shelter magazine World of Interiors and cast out on her own, she'd engineered a coming-out party for herself that included a collaborative installation with Gallery Fumi featuring designs made from corn, a Memphis-inspired playroom with an Arabeschi di Latte egg bar, and a temporary shop for Tom Dixon that showcased how she'd begun to transform his brand image. Just seeing her do it was enough to make us feel stressed, and that was before we knew that she was about to reinvent herself again, this time as a furniture designer. Her first collection, Assemblage 1, was inspired by modernist sculpture, British craftsmanship, and her childhood growing up in the English countryside; it gave way to Assemblage 2 in Milan earlier this year, which took a darker, edgier turn. Finally, with Phillips de Pury last week, Toogood unveiled the third chapter in the series, and the most ambitious to date — it's based around her fascination with iridescence, and it took a motorcycle fabricator, a gun maker, and a studio full of assistants in gas masks to complete. I was asked by Phillips to conduct an in-depth interview with Toogood to appear in the show's catalog, and so Sight Unseen received special permission to reprint that interview here. It's lengthy, but it offers a good deal of insight into the mind of one of the most intriguing and ambitious personalities working in design right now.
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Lukas and Oskar Peet, Product Designers

There's a reason why one of the first questions we always ask Sight Unseen subjects is "What did your parents do?" In the nearly two years we've been producing this site, it's become apparent that the ideas and habits of ultra-creative people usually germinate in childhood, and that the environments in which they were raised tend to have played a part — whether their formative years resembled those of Kiki van Eijk, whose father competed on the 1976 Dutch Olympic field hockey team but also taught her to paint, or Lauren Kovin, whose parents filled the house with Ettore Sottsass furniture. The more designers and artists in a given family, the more interesting things tend to get, which is why we decided to start this new Related column. In it, we'll periodically ask creative talents who are related to interview one another about their respective practices and what it was like growing up in close proximity. First up are brothers Lukas Peet, 24, and Oskar Peet, 27, up-and-coming designers who were born and raised in the Canadian mountain resort town of Banff, attended the Design Academy Eindhoven together, and whose Dutch-born father Rudi Peet immigrated to Banff in 1974 and has since established himself as a successful jewelry designer there.
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Irene Alvarez, Artist

Antwerp’s Irene Alvarez was a sculptor and recent Royal Academy art grad when she got the call from the cult concept shop Ra — the city’s version of Opening Ceremony — asking her to design a custom installation. But it was the far less glamorous moment that came next that has since marked a pivotal moment in her nascent career: She discovered the Netherlands' Textile Museum Tilburg, which is not only a museum but also an experimental production lab where creatives can apply for technical assistance on machines capable of knitting, embroidering, lasering, printing, tufting, dyeing, and weaving almost anything the mind can conceive. Despite having no previous experience with textiles, she collaborated with the museum on the half-woven Inti Altar sculpture that’s held court on Ra’s second floor for the last two years, and she’s been addicted to the furry medium ever since. Today marks the opening of her first solo show, at Belgium’s other hallowed retail emporium, Hunting and Collecting, and it demonstrates just how far Alvarez has come in her obsession with knits — it contains no traditional sculpture at all, only a textile teepee (above), a line of t-shirts, and a series of three tapestries woven with a psychedelic clash of pop-culture icons and op-art patterning. Sight Unseen recently spoke with the artist about her work with the museum and the ethnic influences behind her imagery.
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With Matylda Krzykowski, Designer and Curator of The Clash Project

By now we're used to furniture designers making art, artists making furniture, and every possible variation along that spectrum. But in 2009, when three of her friends started the Fashion Clash festival in her hometown of Maastricht, the Netherlands, designer and blogger Matylda Krzykowski was convinced her colleagues outside the fashion industry might have something to contribute. She rounded up 10 furniture, textile, and graphic designers and asked them to modify their work for the catwalk — in most cases having no idea what they would come up with until the final "outfit" was delivered to her door. The first year, artist Tanja Ritterbex donned a glittery pink Barbie dress and asked to be rolled down the catwalk while she waved at the audience like Queen Elizabeth. The second year, a designer-artist couple from London created a massive, wearable Tyvek tote bag and requested it be modeled by an old man. And for the 2011 show, presented last weekend, one of the designers encased her model in a mountainous wooden cake, with only her head poking out at the summit — in other words, nothing you wouldn't expect to see at an actual fashion show. We asked Krzykowski to tell us a little bit more about the project and about five selections from this year's collection which are shown here, alongside the participant's usual work.
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Samare

Through today, Sight Unseen is showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Here, Nicolas Bellevance-Lecompte, one quarter of the Montreal and Milan–based design studio Samare and the co-founder of the Carwan gallery itself, tells us about the group's new and strikingly geometric felted-wool rugs, made in collaboration with the Belgian textile designers Antonin Bachet and Linda Topic. The project is the latest addition to Samare's ongoing Pays d’en Haut Legacy series, which investigates and then reinterprets the vernacular forms and decorative motifs of Canada's upper country, home to its logging and fur trades. Since their studio launch in 2008, they've worked with local snowshoe craftsman, weavers, and furriers in an attempt to show the world — and their fellow Canadians — how these longtime traditions and crafts can still prove relevant to contemporary culture. After the Milan fair, the rugs will travel to New York, where they'll be presented by the design store Matter during ICFF.
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