It's been a big year for Sight Unseen, from the launch of our OFFSITE show to the expansion of our staff to celebrating our 5th anniversary, not to mention having recently started the process of redesigning our website for the very first time. But the more exciting and action-packed things get, the faster time seems to speed by — it's nice to take a moment to pause and reflect. With the holidays upon us, we decided to put together a simple best-of list that highlights some of our most popular content from 2014, including the five stories that got the most traffic on Sight Unseen, the five (er six, counting the one above) images that got the most likes on Instagram, and our five most-repinned photos on Pinterest.
We don't do this very often at Sight Unseen — post about the same subject twice in the span of two weeks — but in this case, we couldn't help it: When the young Portuguese graphics duo Studio AH–HA submitted their answers for our recent Up and Coming profile, they included eight impeccably styled photos of their personal stationery collection, and we couldn't bear to let the images go to waste. There are few things more beautiful than old paper goods, as anyone who's ever perused the goods at Present and Correct, or the mountains of vintage office ephemera available on Etsy, can surely attest. So we asked AH–HA's Catarina Carreiras and Carolina Cantante to share the stories behind the objects in the photos they shot for us, many of which they inhereted from Carreiras's late grandfather.
As a child growing up in the Jura mountains on a small farm on the border between France and Switzerland, the first thing designer Sam Baron remembers collecting were the stickers you scrape from the skins of fruits, heralding their arrival from someplace exotic — tomatoes from Mexico, say, or bananas from Guadeloupe. “For me, it was like a small souvenir from a trip I had never taken, an invitation to think about someplace else and another way of life,” Baron told me from his studio in Lisbon earlier this fall. Of course these days, the designer needn’t only imagine what life is like in faraway places: As head of the design department at Fabrica and a designer for outfits like Ligne Roset, Secondome Gallery, and Bosa Ceramics, Baron’s work has him constantly jetting from Paris to Milan to Treviso, where Fabrica is based; to Venice, where his glassworks are blown; and back to Lisbon, where he recently opened an office with Fabrica alums Gonçalo Campos and Catarina Carreiras, and where he lives with his wife.
Old or discarded objects may leave their mark on many a designer’s practice these days, but few so literally as Jo Meesters’s: Peer inside any one of the Pulp vessels or lamps he sculpts from a self-engineered slurry of newspaper and glue, and odds are you’ll see the imprint of whatever busted-up thrift store find he used as its mold. In fact, whatever time Meesters doesn’t spend designing, he tends to spend combing through second-hand shops, searching for abandoned items with intriguing materialities or archetypal forms. “When I’m developing new products, they’re always the forms I come back to, because they’re recognizable for most people,” says the Philippines-born, Eindhoven-based talent. Once he co-opts those historical influences into one of his own objects, “it becomes this weird sensation; you’ve never seen it before, and yet you can also relate it.”
At the London Design Festival in 2009, Apartamento magazine collaborated with local furniture wunderkind Max Lamb on a show called “The Everyday Life Collector.” The title referred to Lamb’s father, Richard, who had spent more than 15 years surrounding himself with British studio pottery, of which 400 examples were on view. But while age might have given him a leg up in the volume department, it turned out that the elder Lamb wasn’t the only one with the collecting bug: Max, too, admitted to joining his dad at flea markets from time to time and almost never coming home empty-handed. So when we had the idea to start a new column called Inventory — for which we’d ask subjects to photograph a group of objects they found meaningful — we turned to Max first, and he didn’t disappoint. He sent us 10 images of the collections on display in his live-work studio in London, then gave us a personal tour.