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Ladies & Gentlemen and Robin Stein Team Up on a Still Life Inspired by Moholy-Nagy, Not Memphis

You know all those contemporary still-life clichés, like pastel backgrounds, cactuses, and Sottsass-approved geometric shapes? When New York photographer Robin Stein recently teamed up with Brooklyn design studio Ladies & Gentlemen for a studio visit (coming soon) and impromptu creative photo shoot (pictured after the jump), the longtime friends decided to toss all those ubiquitous tropes out the window and do something different.

The Dogs of American Design + A Shinola Pet Giveaway

To celebrate the line of dog accessories Shinola has developed with Bruce Weber, we asked nine American designers we'd spotted Instagramming their canines alongside their creations (like Ben Medansky, above) what makes their dog a hero. See their best dog photos here, then post your own response on Instagram for the chance to win a Shinola leash, collar, rope toy, and postcard set worth $227.

Views by Designer Tom Hancocks

In his new Views series created exclusively for Sight Unseen, New York designer Tom Hancocks used the 3-D graphics software Blender to conjure six different rooms inhabited by various types of chairs, whose forms and relationships to their immediate surroundings were intended to convey certain moods and emotions.

Q+Q’s 2015 Collection, Shot by Amanda Ringstad

When we first invited one of our favorite prop stylists, Seattle's Amanda Ringstad, to create a shoot around Q+Q's line of waterproof, solar-powered watches last year, she attempted to abstract the simple, color-blocked designs into ambiguous shapes and arrangements. For its 2015 collection, however, the Japanese brand — who partnered with us for a second time at this year's Sight Unseen OFFSITE — went wild with pattern, so we thought it would be especially compelling to return to Ringstad once again and see how that might change her aesthetic approach. The result is a series of playful, summery images shot inside a big bucket of water that imagine the watches as eye-catchingly outfitted, anthropomorphized bathers.

Sight Unseen is Seeking Contributors

The editors of Sight Unseen certainly get around — we go to Milan each year for the furniture fair, we attend Art Basel and the London Design Festival from time to time, and we even do research residencies in far-flung places like Norway, where Monica is currently camped out. That said, with such a small staff, and two oceans between us and the rest of the world, we can't possibly be everywhere there is to be or know everything there is to know about what's up-and-coming in design, art, and fashion. That's why we're hoping to grow our reach by adding even more amazing freelance contributors to our roster!

The Hollyhock House Shot by Gaea Woods

If you'd happened to wander into L.A.'s Barnsdall Art Park in the middle of the night last Friday, you might have assumed there were concert tickets, or some newfangled iPhone model, about to go on sale the next morning: even into the wee hours, a line of people three hours long snaked all around the property. Amazingly enough, though, the massive crowd had turned out not to buy something but to experience the re-opening of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark 1921 Hollyhock House, which we overheard certain over-caffeinated line-goers describe as "super hyped." Built in 1921 in the so-called California Romanza style, the theater and home turned museum had been closed to the public for more than three years for restoration, and the city was celebrating the unveiling of its face-lift by giving the public continuous free access for 24 hours. We figured the best way to mark the occasion was to send a photographer to shoot the house after dark, a task we entrusted to the up-and-coming L.A. photographer Gaea Woods.

Sight Unseen Turns Five!

When we first launched Sight Unseen — on this very day back in 2009 — we intended it to be an online magazine in which we would publish, a couple of times per week, long, meticulously reported stories about the lives, processes, and inspirations behind our favorite design and art objects. We still do just that, five years later. But we're proud to say that we've also done so much more: We've become a place for creatives to scout new talents on a daily basis, we've become a linchpin for the blossoming American design scene, we've opened an online shop, we've published a book, and we've founded one of New York design week's biggest offsite events. This year, we have plans to curate multiple pop-ups, to launch a long-overdue redesign of our site, to start a major retail collaboration with a visionary company, and to make our OFFSITE show even bigger and better. But perhaps the greatest joy of our 5-year tenure has been the amazing and fruitful relationships we've formed with our peers — all of the people who create, love, photograph, and write about design every day right along with us. These people clearly feel the same about us, seeing as when we invited them to help us celebrate by making us a birthday card, we were overwhelmed by not only the quantity of responses but also by the thoughtfulness that went into each piece. Check out some of the wonderful people who responded after the jump!

Q+Q Watches Shot By Amanda Ringstad

When Amanda Ringstad showed a friend recently one of the images she'd styled and shot for us of a cluster of Q+Q SmileSolar watches, all linked together in a random shape, her friend's first reaction was: "That looks like a lawnmower!" Ringstad was thoroughly pleased — having been invited by us to apply her styling genius in the service of our friends at Q+Q, who partnered with us on this year's edition of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the Seattle photographer's main objective was to present the watches in a simple, abstracted way that left plenty of room for the imagination. "Watches are a simple thing, but difficult to disassociate so that they convey something else," she explains. After initial attempts to weave them together into a kind of "textile," or arrange them on top of summery backgrounds depicting water or sand, in the end Ringstad used spare colored planes and graphic shadows to elevate her subjects above the realm of mere utilitarian objects.

Print All Over Me x Sight Unseen

Back in December, we embarked on an experimental curatorial collaboration with Print All Over Me, the amazing print-your-own-pattern service, founded by fashion designer Jesse Finkelstein and his sister, Meredith, that allows designers to upload any graphic they please onto fashionable white blanks — sweatshirts, bomber jackets, shift dresses, backpacks, leggings, and more. The project — for which we hand-selected illustrators like Will Bryant, Tim Colmant, and Clay Hickson — was such a rousing success that Jesse approached us for round two a few months ago. We were already 100 percent sold on the idea, thinking we could sell the results at a pop-up at our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event — which opens today at noon! — when Jesse casually emailed this bomb: "Hey! Let's also talk about print all over furniture!"

Shop Sight Unseen on Print All Over Me

In April, we introduced you to BYCO, a production platform and online shop for custom clothing designs submitted by up-and-coming fashion talents. But BYCO also had a small section for housewares, where designers could apply imagery to a standardized selection of pillows, duvets, and curtains — an idea that co-founders Jesse and Meredith Finkelstein have taken one step further with their new spinoff project, Print All Over Me. The site harnesses the same overseas manufacturing capabilities the pair utilize for BYCO, but instead of producing custom pieces, it offers designers a choice of eight blanks onto which they can apply any image file — think CafePress, but with shirts, sweatpants, hats, pillows, totes, and scarfs that are actually fashion-forward (Jesse's also the designer behind the New York label JF&Son). Print All Over Me is technically still in beta, but we were so excited about its possibilities that we invited a few friends — Will Bryant, Mel Nguyen, New Friends, Clay Hickson, and Tim Colmant —to post a few items just for us. Read on to check out and shop their mini-collections, or create and sell your own designs.
Prism as drink coaster

Kelly Rakowski’s “Life With Max Lamb Prism”

Here at Sight Unseen, we're a bit like a college application — fixated on versatility, and in awe of anyone who's proven themselves equally gifted across a spectrum of interests and activities. So it's no wonder we became fast friends with someone like Kelly Rakowski, who studied graphics, worked as a book designer for Todd Oldham for five years, started a blog revolving around her obsession with archival textiles, and now makes weavings, housewares, and jewelry as one half of the label New Friends. She's an artist, a designer, and a stylist, and when we asked her to art-direct a special editorial featuring Max Lamb's Prism Bangle — commissioned by us for the Sight Unseen Shop — it was no surprise that she understood our vision immediately. Max's bangle, after all, is way more than just a bangle; it began life as a sculptural object and was adapted for us to wearable proportions, but it still feels just as at home on a desk as it does around your wrist or hanging from your neck. For this slideshow, Rakowski imagined several creative uses for the Prism's four discrete parts, from spaghetti dosing to cookie-cutting, then photographed her ideas in action.
Black Markers: "My tools change all the time. I could be painting with acrylic or working on my Wacom tablet, but I usually have some black marker with me — Posca, Sharpie, Pentel — to improvise with in my dead time. These are the markers I've been using lately, and on them I have drawn some of the characters starring in this story: one orange, a gym towel, a dog, Maite (my girlfriend), and me."

Antonio Ladrillo, Graphic Artist

In the googly-eyed character world created by Barcelona-based graphic artist Antonio Ladrillo, you might see shades of Cartman, or maybe the Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. But though the 36-year-old artist counts among his influences illustrators like Olle Eksell, David Shrigley, and Bruno Munari, the one thing he returns to over and over again is Super Mario Brothers, the NES videogame created in 1985 by Japanese artist Shigeru Miyamoto. “It’s fascinated me for years, but I only started to value it as something artistic when I was older,” says Ladrillo. “It perfectly combines my main interests: rhythm, color, shape, and space. I often go to it as a way to find some aesthetic pleasure.” It should come as no surprise then to anyone familiar with Ladrillo’s drawings that, like a videogame artist, he can't help but constantly imagine his characters in motion. “So much so, that for a time I couldn’t draw anything that wasn’t moving because it looked unfinished to me,” he says.