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Category Archives: Q+A

  1. 03.03.14
    Q+A
    Nicole Patel on Her Textile Wall Panels

    When we first met the multi-talented Nicole and Sweetu Patel back in 2004, they were running Brooklyn’s Citizen Citizen, a high-concept British design showroom that sold objects like crucifix-shaped brushes by FredriksonStallard. But they gave up the project shortly afterward, and have continued to evolve creatively in the last decade: Nicole went on to focus on her interior design business and form a creative partnership with curator Josee Lepage, while Sweetu went on to work for Cappellini and later founded the men’s heritage clothing shop C.H.C.M. It was there that we recently spotted Nicole’s latest brilliant endeavor, a series of wall panels that she makes from the likes of Japanese indigo textiles and Belgian linen, meticulously stretched and then embellished with things like handmade rope or tone-on-tone embroidery. Beyond hanging them in her husband’s store, she hadn’t yet put them out in the world, so we decided to do the honors.

  2. 02.26.14
    Q+A
    Alex Proba on A Poster A Day

    In her day job, Alex Proba works as a graphic designer at Kickstarter. But every night when she comes home from work, Proba sits down for 30 minutes at her computer and creates a poster, either from manipulated found imagery or from shapes and patterns she’s created on her own. Then she posts the final product to Tumblr, as she has every day for the past 250 days. It’s the kind of experiment that every creative person says they’ll do — what writer hasn’t vowed to pound out words in the early hours of the morning? — but hardly anyone ever makes good on.

  3. 01.16.14
    Q+A
    Dario Buzzini and Barbara Busatta on Machine Series

    For all the excitement around the game-changing rise of rapid prototyping, it’s always felt a little abstract to us — mostly limited to actual prototyping, MakerBot-style tinkering, and a few crazy, high-end projects meant above all to flaunt the capabilities of the technology. Yet with the launch of Machine Series, a new brand of housewares made using fused deposition modeling (FDM), co-founders Dario Buzzini and Barbara Busatta are attempting to make a case for the potential of 3-D printing to create a commercially viable line of attractive and functional everyday objects. “The focus of this exploration has been to elevate 3-D printing, a technology that is very much talked about but is relegated to either cumbersome, amateurish results or over-expensive artistic applications,” write the Italian-born, New York–based pair in the brand’s press release. “We believe that by exploring the full potential of FDM, we are able to create items that are as simple as they are sophisticated and as elegant as they are innovative.” The designs are also fully open-source, so all the files used to produce them are available online. Buzzini and Busatta took some time to tell us more about the project, after the jump.

  4. 08.07.13
    Q+A
    The Grantchester Pottery

    What happens when two conceptual artists meet on a retreat in the English countryside and get to grips with ceramics in an abandoned studio? In the case of The Grantchester Pottery, they form a decorative arts collective that feels more like a piece of conceptual art — which is a bit misleading, considering The Grantchester Pottery sounds a lot like a heritage brand, and these guys don’t just throw pots. In fact, they don’t throw at all. “It’s not that we have not tried!” says co-founder Giles Round.

  5. 04.08.13
    Q+A
    Melissa Bartley, Field Visual Manager of Terrain at Styers

    When we first began hearing rumblings a few years back about Terrain, the garden center/home store/plant nirvana/farm-to-table café/dreamy wedding venue located 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia, we had no idea that the place was founded and operated by Urban Outfitters. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, to do a profile one day on the sweet couple who must own the place? But don’t laugh at our cluelessness just yet. Though its flagship campus is huge — nearly a dozen buildings spread out over five acres — Terrain has the intimate vibe and the quirkily curated stock of a much smaller operation. Credit for projecting that cozy vibe, despite being part of one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the country, goes in large part to Terrain’s visual team — the buyers, merchandisers, and creatives who stock the place with mason jars, ticking stripe aprons, vintage planters, sea salt soaps, bocce ball sets, and terrariums.

  6. 03.14.13
    Q+A
    Kevin Appel, artist

    In the long list of ways that New York differs from Los Angeles, we’ve always been particularly fascinated by one: New York can be a very physically demanding place to live, but it is not a difficult city to understand on a psychological level. In Los Angeles, the living is easier, but there seems to be — especially among artists — a constant grappling to define and understand LA as a place. L.A. artist Kevin Appel explains it this way: “Los Angeles has always had a bit of an identity crisis partially due to the external view of LA as having this superficial mentality tied to the film industry. It doesn’t have a long lineage of a canonical or intellectual history, as opposed to New York.” He should know: Appel is a native Angeleno who has called the city home for almost his entire life — save for a brief stint at Parsons for his BFA — and he’s been steeped in the city’s history and vocabulary since birth. His father was an architect and his mother an interior designer, so it makes sense that the city’s structures and surroundings would eventually become his subject matter.

  7. 10.08.12
    Q+A
    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.

  8. 06.05.12
    Q+A
    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. There are two reasons for this, Lorenz revealed when Sight Unseen sat down to interview him about the project. The first and most obvious is that we’re closer to the end of the New Ugly movement than the beginning, which is precisely what made the couple feel the time was ripe for a retrospective; Steven Heller has written about it, Urban Outfitters has embraced it, and we’ve gotten increasingly used to it — and desensitized to its shock value — ever since Mike Meiré used it to redesign 032c magazine in 2007. The second reason, and the one your editors found particularly compelling, is that somewhere along the line the New Ugly actually became less about rule-breaking and more about documenting process, with designers creating works that aim to expose the mechanics behind their boundary-pushing techniques. Read more of Lorenz’s thoughts about Pretty Ugly in our interview, after the jump.

  9. 10.05.11
    Q+A
    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.

  10. 09.26.11
    Q+A
    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.

  11. 06.23.11
    Q+A
    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.

  12. 06.17.11
    Q+A
    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.

  13. 04.15.11
    Q+A
    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.

  14. 04.12.11
    Q+A
    Carwan Gallery Launch: My Bauhaus is Better Than Yours

    Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be 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. Next up are designs from My Bauhaus is Better Than Yours, a loose collective of young German studios — most of whom studied at the Bauhaus University in Weimar — that banded together two years ago as a way to mount exhibitions in design hotspots like Milan and DMY Berlin. The group has since evolved into a full-fledged design label with the ability to manufacture and distribute the designs of its members, and it has plans to launch a webshop later this week. We spoke with Daniel Klapsing, one half of the Berlin-based duo 45 Kilo and de facto leader of the newly formed label, and put together a preview of designs from several of the group’s other members as well.

  15. 04.08.11
    Q+A
    Carwan Gallery Launch: Paul Loebach

    Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be 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. When we asked Brooklynite Paul Loebach which of the four products he’ll bring to the show had the most intriguing backstory, he immediately nominated his Watson table, a sandwich of carbon fiber and wood with double-helix legs that took him two and a half years to develop. Like the rest of Loebach’s oeuvre, the table reinterprets historical craftsmanship techniques using cutting-edge technologies, evoking yet another novel property from a material as old and as simple as wood. “I named the table after the guy who discovered DNA,” Loebach says. “I felt like a scientist doing this project, so I named it after one.”

  16. 04.07.11
    Q+A
    Carwan Gallery Launch: Lindsey Adelman

    Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be 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. Today’s subject is Lindsey Adelman, who works out of a tiny studio in the back of Manhattan design store The Future Perfect but creates her sprawling, modular chandelier series at Urban Glass, a Brooklyn atelier that’s created work for the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Eva Zeisel, and Robert Rauschenberg. “Building visual tension is a theme that’s always interested me,” says Adelman. And in her latest work Catch, which features slumping glass orbs blown through oversized brass links, it’s the tension between “the fluid fragility of the glass and the strict, flat, weighty links. Mashing together the feminine and the masculine — something interesting usually happens,” she says.

  17. 04.05.11
    Q+A
    Carwan Gallery Launch: Philippe Malouin

    Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be 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. First up is Montreal-born, London-based Philippe Malouin, whose projects merge a highly conceptual framework with a practical, process-based approach and visually pleasing geometries. His Gridlock series, for example, shrunk the construction of architectural cross-bracing down to a domestic scale, employing it to make lamps and mobiles, while his new Yachiyo rug uses an ancient Japanese chain-mail technique to create an indestructible floor covering that takes 3,000 hours and an army of interns to produce. Here, Malouin explains how — and why — he did it.

  18. 03.07.11
    Q+A
    Patrizia Moroso, Design Producer, and Anna Galtarossa, Artist

    It gyrates, it whirs, and it’s every bit the mechanically-powered spectacle of a department-store Christmas Village: Italian furniture brand Moroso’s New York showroom has been transformed into a jolly urban landscape of brightly colored kinetic skyscrapers, an immersive installation created by the young Italian artist Anna Galtarossa. Woven amongst the shop’s Tord Boontje lounge chairs and Front sofas, Galtarossa’s fabric buildings were commissioned by company founder Patrizia Moroso as part of a newly launched grant project called the Moroso Award for Contemporary Art. Curated in partnership with the Civic Gallery of Contemporary Art in Monfalcone — along with a guest panel of design-industry talents like Tobias Rehberger, David Adjaye, and Patricia Urquiola — the award will fund not only Galtarossa’s New York project but planned installations by additional 2011 recipients Martino Gamper and Christian Frosi. But even more, it serves Moroso’s own effort to expand her support to art, a creative discipline that has lost crucial government funding in recent years, by highlighting its potential to impact the practice of design. We recently spoke with both Moroso and Galtarossa about the ways art and design can influence one another, and how Galtarossa’s Skyscraper Nursery embodies those ideas.