In the lull between Milan and the frenzy of New York design week, it's easy to become a bit myopic about what's going on elsewhere in the design world. But we'd be remiss if we didn't point out an exhibition happening right now with one of most fascinating concepts we've ever come across: At Chicago's Volume Gallery last week, the Detroit ceramicist Anders Ruhwald opened "The Charred Room," an exhibition that explores "the aftermath of a fire – objects as they should be, recognizable to an extent in shape and position in relation to one another – but charred. Slumped, melted and morphed the objects lose their direct references that create comfort, leaving the viewer with renderings of domestic detritus vaguely familiar." We had the pleasure of speaking with Ruhwald about the lead-up and the process behind that exhibition earlier this year, on assignment for PIN-UP, and with the magazine's permission, we're excerpting that story here today.
When PIN–UP editor Felix Burrichter asked me to put together a product-driven color story for the magazine's new fall issue, which just came out last week, I said yes without hesitation — then secretly panicked later. It turns out that defining yourself by a single hue can be strangely intimidating. After thinking about it for ages, I resolved not to think at all, resorting to an idea that's been kicking around Sight Unseen's Pinterest feed for months now: electric blue, reimagined for the magazine as the more whimsical-sounding "peacock." I rounded up 14 of our favorite examples, which PIN–UP contributor Fausto Fantinuoli turned into the gorgeous illustration pictured above, along with the selections of Ambra Medda (dolphin), Tauba Auerbach (vermillion), and Paloma Powers (blush). Burrichter was kind enough to let us share the full story, which you can view after the jump.
Now that Seattle Week on Sight Unseen is over, we're turning our attention to another northwestern capital — Milan, Italy, home of the Salone del Mobile, where Jill and I are on serious scouting duty this week. Before we begin posting our annual eyewitness dispatches from the fair, though, we wanted to start our coverage with a small paean to our temporary digs: an article I contributed to the forthcoming Milan-themed spring/summer issue of PIN–UP magazine, which features the work of one of our favorite local design firms (Oeuffice) photographed inside the foundation of one of our favorite local architects (Piero Portoluppi). Click through to learn more about Oeuffice's Milanes collection of tabletop items and the impetus behind these gorgeous images, plus how you can snag the PIN–UP No. 16 when it goes on sale next month.
It's no secret that we're devotees of the work of the late Italian design legend Ettore Sottsass, but to the extent that everyone we know has been caught up lately in the more superficial elements of his influence — the post-modernist colors, patterns, and geometries — we jumped at the chance to share with you this reminder of his intellectual legacy: one of several previously unpublished interviews with Sottsass conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2001. It was given to us as a little holiday present by Surface magazine's new editor Spencer Bailey, who oversaw its inclusion in the Dec/Jan Art Issue, which was co-edited by ForYourArt founder Bettina Korek and is the fourth since Surface was redesigned and reimagined this past July. Says Bailey: "Last fall, I was talking with Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist over dinner in London about his unpublished interviews with artists and designers. He mentioned that he has several with Ettore Sottsass, so I asked him to send them to me. This one in particular blew me away. Hans Ulrich is a master interviewer, and Sottsass is, well, Sottsass. When I was putting together Surface's first annual Art Issue, I just knew I had to publish it." Sight Unseen is the only place on the web you can read the entire edited interview as it ran in the magazine — check it out after the jump, including images added by us, and don't forget to subscribe to Surface when you're done!
So many of the designers we've featured here on Sight Unseen grew up somewhere small, but left their hometowns behind for someplace big. Kiel Mead grew up in Buffalo but moved to Brooklyn. Max Lamb started out on the beach in Cornwall but headed inland to London. Sam Baron spent his childhood in the mountains of France, but is now so worldly he splits time between Paris and Lisbon. But what of the people who stay behind? Who are the artists and designers who make up the cultural fabric of, say, a Tucson or a Des Moines? That's what the three-year-old annual nonprofit magazine Outpost Journal purports to find out.
Up until three weeks ago, neither of Sight Unseen’s editors had a green space to call our own. Neither of us has a plot in one of New York’s many community gardens, and between us, our houseplant count hovers around three. So why exactly have we both had a thing for Wilder Quarterly — a magazine about nature and gardening that features lengthy discourse on things like asparagus, outdoor shelters, and slugs — since it launched nearly two years ago? Abbye Churchill, the magazine’s editorial director, explains: “Wilder at its essence is just about encouraging people to go outside — to fall in love with nature and to get their hands dirty. For us, that means taking responsibility for making things on your own, and that can be as diverse as building or cooking or beauty projects.” All of which translates to a magazine that can slot a feature on organic nail polish next to a Mark Borthwick photography portfolio inspired by the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson — as the recently released Spring issue does — and have none of it seem out of context.
It took me 16 issues (Miranda July) to discover the Berlin-based magazine mono.kultur, after seeing its pull-out poster on my friend's wall a few years back. "Dear life," it read, "do you want to hang out tonight? I should warn you that I will not be wearing any make-up and my hair is dirty. If you can handle that, call me. Yours, Miranda July." Five issues later (Tilda Swinton), I was obsessed: Here was a publication that, with each issue dedicated to a single long-form interview, was less about collecting personalities for front-cover bragging rights and more about truly, painstakingly, and intimately getting to know them. Which is all any of us dream about when it comes to our cultural idols, even those of us who, from time to time, have the honor of crossing their paths ourselves. So even though we've profiled Martino Gamper on Sight Unseen before — our lovely London contributor Claire Walsh having toured his home garden and secured us his favorite pasta recipe — we still jumped at the chance to excerpt mono.kultur's new sit-down with the Italian RCA grad, who talked to its editors about his latest public design projects, his feelings about Ikea, and the use of humor in his work. The interview runs to 10,000 words and — in print — comprises three booklets hand-assembled into one exhaustive artifact that stretches far beyond the small sample presented here. After reading it, scroll down to learn how to get your own copy before it — like most of the issues this cult favorite has produced — sells out forever.
Berlin's many charms are hardly lost on your editors. After a sunny, weeklong trip five summers ago, we both fell in love with the German capital — the wide open spaces, the well-situated swimming pools, the way clubbing unfolds as an actually enjoyable activity. But while my partner in crime has returned to the German capital each consecutive summer, I've never been able to find the time to go back. This summer, then, I was lucky enough to visit by proxy through the eyes of Felix Burrichter and his staff of Berlinophiles over at PIN-UP Magazine, which devoted its entire Spring/Summer issue to the changing metropolis. "For very long, Berlin was this one thing: You went when you had no money," says Burrichter, who serves as both editor and creative director of the architecture biannual. "But there’s a cultural elite — a moneyed elite — that has developed there over the past 10 years. Mostly people from out of town or in the art world. So there's an interesting friction right now. When that moneyed elite takes over, the city will lose a lot of its charm. But right now it still feels very raw and budding." The issue was in some ways a homecoming — Burrichter grew up in Düsseldorf — but in the end, the Berlin depicted in the magazine's pages bears more of a resemblance to Burrichter's adopted home in New York. "What fascinates me about Berlin right now is that it's very international," he says; hence the features run to a British architect who recently remade the city's Neues Museum (David Chipperfield), a West African transplant (Francis Kéré), and Clémence Seilles, a Frenchwoman who arrived in Berlin with a singular goal — to assist in the studio of designer Jerszy Seymour — and who never left. We've been fans of Seilles' work for some time now, and her conversation in the magazine with fellow Sight Unseen friend Matylda Krzykowski was too good to confine to print. Burrichter has graciously allowed us to excerpt it today on Sight Unseen.
Last week, I read an issue of Apartamento magazine that had been sitting around my own home for more than a year. As a reasonably creative person, reading Apartamento is something I profess to do all the time, along with things like attending important museum exhibition openings and flying around the world to various furniture fairs. But lately, with new familial additions and new work projects, those things have fallen by the wayside, and issues of the magazine have stacked up in pretty piles underneath my windowsill, waiting for a vacation that's too long in coming. And yet if I hadn't taken as long as I did to read issue number 07, which came out around this time last year, I would never have gone stumbling around the web only to realize that Nicolas Trembley's wonderful Sgrafo vs Fat Lava exhibition — which started in Geneva last year, making stops along the way at Galerie Kreo in Paris and Gisela Capitain in Cologne — will end its world tour this June in my own backyard, at the Zachary Currie gallery in New York. In this excerpt from Apartamento, the Parisian art critic and curator explains how his collection of more than 150 instances of the bizarre German ceramics came to be.
Designers around the world owe Johanna Agerman Ross a drink, or perhaps even a hug: Her new project, the biannual magazine Disegno, is devoted to letting their work breathe. “I always found it frustrating working for a monthly, because I couldn’t give a subject enough time or space to make it worthwhile,” says the former Icon editor. “For a project that took 10 or 15 years to make, it felt bizarre to represent it in one image, or four pages.” Founded by her and produced with the help of creative director Daren Ellis, Disegno takes some of the visual tropes of fashion magazines — long pictorial features, single-photo spreads, conceptual photography — and marries them with the format of a textbook* and the investigative-reporting ambitions of The New Yorker. The story about Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec which we’ve excerpted here, for example, fills 22 pages of the new issue and runs to nearly 3,000 words; it’s accompanied by images captured over two full days the photographer spent with the brothers, one in their studio and one at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, where they were installing their latest retrospective, “Bivouac.” And articles on Martin Szekely, Azzedine Alaïa, and Issey Miyake’s Yoshiyuki Miyamae are set either over lunch, or in the subject’s living room. The focus, says Agerman Ross, is on proper storytelling. “The people behind the project, the process of making something, even the process of the writer finding out about the story — that’s all part of it,” she says. “It’s the new journalism.” Obviously, we couldn’t agree more.
In the realm of magazine-making, photographer Eva Michon and creative director Colin Bergh could be considered populist heroes. Whenever they begin an issue of their four-year-old side project Bad Day Magazine, they make a wish list full of dozens of potential subjects they happen to be interested in at the moment — Sofia Coppola, Glenn O'Brien, Ariel Pink — and then, except for one fateful attempt to woo Nicki Minaj, they actually manage to go out and persuade those disparate personalities to appear together among their monochromatic pages. The pair have gotten so good at the curatorial hunt that when Michon, who serves as editor, agreed to let us reprint an article from the recently released Bad Day Issue #11, we were spoiled for choice: There were interviews with Sight Unseen favorites Martino Gamper and Tauba Auerbach, both of whom we're planning to feature on our own in the near future, plus stories on Mike Mills, David Shrigley, Tomi Ungerer, and David Shearer. But ultimately we settled on the curious multidisciplinary dialogue between the actor Jason Schwartzman and the New York artist Andrew Kuo, who meander between topics like music, color-mixing, hangovers, and what it would be like if they looked like Jesus.