Category Archives: Sighted

  1. 02.15.13
    Shino Takeda in Inventory Magazine

    We first spotted Shino Takeda’s awkwardly lovable, one-of-a-kind ceramic spoons and desert-style dishes at Caitlin Mociun’s store in Brooklyn, but the ceramicist’s work is a testament to the fact that you can still find amazing things on Etsy if you know where to look: Takeda keeps a store there called “Shino’s World,” and browsing its vases and bowls, you really get the sense that she lives inside her own storybook, where tea sets are named after bluebirds and sake cups appear poised to kiss. But we didn’t know much more about the real Shino until last week, when Inventory Magazine took a more literal look inside her world — with editor Ryan Willms photographing her at work in her Brooklyn studio — and so we couldn’t resist the chance to feature the story here in an attempt to put all the pieces together. The text of Inventory’s piece is after the jump, along with a few of the images, but you can see a lot more back at Inventory’s own site, including a portrait of the ceramicist herself.

  2. 02.11.13
    Laboratori on Slanted Mansion

    Okay, so the cat isn’t the most pertinent aspect of Gonzalo Arbutti and Matias Resich’s Buenos Aires–based art practice and toy-making company, Laboratori. But it does speak volumes about the site we found it on — Slanted Mansion, a newish interiors inspiration blog that we stumbled upon this weekend when they retweeted us (thanks guys!). Siobhan Frost, the photographer and interviewer responsible for all of the content on the site, has a knack for taking the just-right portrait: the Parisian cinematographer playing the French horn in his kitchen, the photographer making pretzel faces outside his Australian studio, the perfectly poised kitty. The photos are shot in a manner similar to many sites of its kind, but the breadth of countries seems wider than most (Israel, Argentina, Jordan), and the list of disciplines spans all the way from glass artist to wooden toy maker, which is how we found the studio visit we’re excerpting today.

  3. 02.05.13

    When Fredrik Paulsen, Kristoffer Sundin, and Simon Klenell organized an auction for independent design in the basement of their Stockholm studio last year, it was with a bit of trepidation: Would anyone come? Would the pieces sell? Would the Swedish design market, with its thirst for Scandinavian midcentury classics, be open to more unique and sometimes weird works? Apparently the answer was yes on all fronts, for the Ornsbergsauktionen — which was one of our favorite exhibitions of 2012 — is back this year in conjunction with Stockholm Design Week, complete with a gorgeous new graphic identity by Bergen, a sharp new website from Konst & Teknik, and new editions by returning favorites like TAF as well as newbies (and Sight Unseen friends) Gemma Holt, Hilda Hellström, and Silo Studio. In Stockholm, the viewing is open until the night of the auction, February 8, but you can get peek of the goods above (that’s Paulsen’s stained pine and Valchromat Prism shelf up top) and below, as well as on the auction homepage where pre-bids are being taken.

  4. 02.02.13
    Sight Unseen is now on Vine! (And Instagram)

    Even though Sight Unseen made its debut on Kickstarter way back in 2009, we’ve never been what you’d call early adopters. (StumbleUpon? We just don’t get it.) So while we’ve been Instagramming on personal accounts for months, we only got around to establishing an official Sight Unseen account this week. (We’re _sightunseen_. Follow along!). The reason we finally joined the ranks: to document our 3-day trip to Philadelphia, where we’ve been meeting amazing designers and makers and gathering fodder for Philly Week, coming soon to Sight Unseen courtesy of the Visit Philly tourism board. While in Philly, we’ve also been embracing the tech and testing out our new favorite app, Vine. What we’ve discovered is that it’s essentially Instagram on speed, 6-second videos that turn even the most ordinary subjects into stop-motion masterpieces. We’ve been filming everyone we’ve visited so far — Jessica Hans, Joel Evey, Julianne Ahn, Luren Jenison & Kevin McGuinness, Alex Segreti — and we’re sharing the results with you today as a preview of what’s to come. Stay tuned!

  5. 01.28.13
    New Places Necklaces by Karin Johansson

    Don’t get your hopes up — you won’t find Karin Johansson’s necklaces in the Sight Unseen shop anytime soon, or at any other shop for that matter. Johansson isn’t a fashion designer, after all, but a Sweden-based jewelry artist who’s spent nearly two decades learning and refining her metalworking techniques, and her pieces are only available through high-end galleries like Barcelona’s Klimt02. That’s where we spotted the New Places collection, a colorfully graphic amalgam of handmade elements in enamel, plastic, and precious metals, plus crushed and “reconstructed” stone; Johansson based each necklace on a different photograph she’d taken while traveling inside her own city and beyond. “The inspiration and the starting point for New Places were photos I’d collected for a few years of different views, landscapes, and cities,” Johansson explains. “Simply by drawing a line in the picture and connecting the ends, then picking up the colors, I discovered a necklace giving hints of houses, streets, trees, water, sky, lines, and directions.”

  6. 01.24.13
    Alyson Fox’s Treasury Project

    If we had to sum up our favorite kind of designer in a just a few brief sentences, it might read something like Alyson Fox’s biography: “I like making things from paper, found objects, thread, furniture, and plaster. I like designing things for commercial ends and designing things for no end at all. I have a degree in photography and an MFA where I focused on many mediums. I am inspired by hardware stores, building sites, empty rooms, people’s messes, stories, fabric, and quiet days.” But while we had some inkling of the Austin designer’s multidisciplinary chops — from girly-tough jewelry to patterned editions for the likes of West Elm — we weren’t aware of her artier inclinations until only recently. Those include a fantastic photo series documenting the textiles people use to cover up outdoor plant life when the weather gets cold, as well as our most recent discovery: a series of 1.5×1.5-inch plaster cubes, each one embedded with bits Fox and her husband found on the 5-acre plot where they last year built a house from scratch.

  7. 01.21.13
    Matthew Ronay on You Have Been Here Sometime

    Long Island City, New York, is a vibrant up-and-coming neighborhood, home to MoMA PS1 and more than a few buzzy new restaurants. But it’s also quite industrial, and prone to long, lonely stretches of aesthetic drabness that can alienate the casual visitor. The last time I toured an artist’s studio there, nearly a decade ago, it was a woman who painted eye-poppingly bright, striated color fields almost compulsively, as if to insulate herself from the world outside her door. I don’t purport to know Matthew Ronay’s relationship with his adopted surroundings — he was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1976 — but his paintings and sculptures certainly add up to one big escapist fantasy: His last big show in New York, at Andrea Rosen Gallery in 2011, was a three-dimensional enchanted forest populated with unidentifiable creatures and eyeball trees, while his latest work revolves around a wall that he imagines to be a portal to another world, perhaps one that looks less like a dreary factory yard and more like a sunny idyll. Maybe that’s why Los Angeles designer and Sight Unseen pal David John is so drawn to it? John interviewed Ronay last week on his cult blog, You Have Been Here Sometime, and invited imminent Sight Unseen contributor Brian Ferry to shoot the artist’s studio.

  8. 01.04.13
    New Jewelry by Nhat-Vu Dang

    Sometimes we furiously scour the internet or go gallery-hopping for inspiration. But sometimes, new good things just fall into our laps (something for which we’re particularly grateful on these tough days back after a holiday!) Case in point: These amazing new necklaces and brooches by recent Rietveld Academy grad Nhat-Vu Dang, which arrived in our inbox yesterday. It’s no secret we love ourselves a large, mixed-media necklace, and these fit the bill nicely, made from glass, wood, paint, high-density foam, and epoxy (the brooches are foam and steel). The new pieces, on view at the Amsterdam jewelry gallery Rob Koudijs through the end of February, are an extension of Dang’s graduation project: sculptural pieces of jewelry made from gray cardboard, which revealed hidden flashes of color when worn. The new pieces, says curator Ward Schrijver, are even more conceptual but no less covetable.

  9. 01.03.13
    The Fancy World by Matt Paweski

    If there was ever a time when artists and designers could remain shrouded, Wizard of Oz-like, behind a curtain of mystery and intrigue, that time — partly thanks to sites like ours — is almost certainly past. Granted most artists still don’t have their own websites, and most of their galleries are pitiful at conveying background info, but this being the information age, some blogger or curator never fails to come along and connect the dots. In the case of Matt Paweski, it may very well end up being Sight Unseen that gets to do the honors. While the Los Angeles–based artist is showing an exciting new body of work called “The Fancy World” at South Willard at the moment, so far there’s very little to be gleaned about him anywhere online. We fell so in love with the new pieces, which are furniture-like in form if not entirely in function, that we set the wheels in motion for a more in-depth studio visit with Paweski in the spring. You’ll get to know him better at that point, but for now, the Michigan-born talent was kind enough to tell us more about “The Fancy World,” whose pieces are pictured in this post: “The fine line between something working or not is a place my work constantly returns to,” he says.

  10. 12.18.12
    Benetton: The Art of Knit

    Tourists emerging from the Broadway/Lafayette subway station in New York’s Soho were in for a shock this fall: Perched atop an old garage behind the BP gas station were two life-sized mannequins, clad in knitted wool and engaged in a rather un-family friendly act. (New Yorkers, used to such things, weren’t particularly fazed.) The artwork was part of the Lana Sutra series by Fabrica artist-in-residence Erik Ravelo, and it was commissioned for a Benetton pop-up shop that opened in the space this past September and closes at the end of this month. But once you stepped inside the 2,200-square-foot garage, you realized that though the knit sculptures were the attention-grabbers, the space was actually full to the brim with ingenious objects that offered clever takes on color and wool, created by the young talents at Fabrica — Benetton’s Treviso, Italy–based designer-in-residence program — under the creative direction of Fabrica’s design head Sam Baron and Benetton’s brand-new creative director You Nguyen. “The concept was to adapt Benetton’s DNA to a more modern vision,” says Baron.

  11. 12.18.12
    Lost Time by Glithero for Perrier-Jouet

    In the tent at Design/Miami last week, nearly everything came with a price tag. RO/LU walnut and Formica bookcases: $3,800. Michael’s Genuine Ultimate Caprese Sandwich: $14. Even one of Snarkitecture’s upholstered foam benches, which welcomed tired fairgoers in the courtyard outside, could be snagged for a mere $5,000 from Chicago’s Volume Gallery. But there was one thing that wasn’t, that couldn’t be, for sale: The London-based studio Glithero’s Lost Time installation, which unfolded in a dark hallway near the café, the result of a commission from first-time Design/Miami sponsor Perrier-Jouët (who was kind enough to sponsor this editor’s plane ticket down as well.) There, the duo installed a series of looping weighted silver chains, which hung in perfect parabolas from the ceiling and, lit from below, cast reflections in a still clear pond beneath.

  12. 12.13.12
    Merijn Hos at Beginnings Gallery

    Could New York’s best new gallery be in Greenpoint, Brooklyn? We’re beginning — no pun intended — to think it just might be so. Beginnings, a small storefront gallery on a side street off Greenpoint’s main drag, opened earlier this fall, the brainchild of seven like-minded friends and artists (two of whom are erstwhile members of Philadelphia’s artists-for-artists gallery Space 1026). At the outset, the goal was to create a warm, welcoming space that would be a home for emerging artists but also a place where even first-time art buyers might be encouraged to actually make a purchase. In their inaugural exhibition, the curators asked questions like: “What’s art for anymore? How can contemporary art be bought and sold in a healthy, progressive way? How can new artists support/be supported in their community? In the 21st century, what are the most satisfying and effective roles of the gallery? The gallerist? The gallery-goers?” The refreshingly honest answer? “We got no idea, but we’re happy to present this art and these artists.”

  13. 11.07.12
    Gabriel Orozco’s Asterisms at the Guggenheim

    It may look like a staging area for the production of Stuart Haygarth chandeliers or Massimiliano Adami cabinets, or possibly an excerpt from the website Things Organized Neatly. But the comely technicolor garbage pile pictured above is actually a piece by the Mexican art-star Gabriel Orozco, who’s known for his use of humble materials and found objects, and it’s moving into New York’s Guggenheim museum as of this Friday. Asterisms is a process-oriented installation — our favorite kind! — featuring thousands of objects Orozco collected from two separate sites: a sports field near his New York home and a wildlife reserve on the coast of Baja California Sur, the latter of which happens to enjoy a constant flow of industrial backwash from across the Pacific that every so often yields bits of aesthetically pleasing detritus.

  14. 10.29.12
    Industrial Facility in Herman Miller’s Why Design Series

    For those of you who weren’t aware, your editors — Jill and Monica — are based in New York, where a massive tropical storm is bearing down today with increasing intensity. Jill is safe in the East Village with her family, while Monica fled her Brooklyn apartment for a world of luxurious denial at the Ace Hotel in midtown, where her friend is staying and where the Breslin will be churning out burgers and fries for the duration of the hurricane. Regardless, the serious conditions outside are obviously demanding most of our attention at the moment, so we can only offer a quick dispatch to jump-start the week: a behind-the-scenes video interview with Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of the London design studio Industrial Facility, whose Muji-approved strain of functional minimalism is as beloved as the collection of regional everyday objects featured in their book with Rizzoli last year. While the book served to catalog the couple’s travels around the globe, the video — part of Herman Miller’s ongoing Why Design series — sees them reflecting on the world just outside their front door, and how it influences their work in small but important ways.

  15. 10.17.12
    Moss: Dialogues Between Art & Design Auction

    Yesterday at Phillips de Pury in New York, the auction “Moss: Dialogues Between Art & Design” raked in more $5 million and smashed records for work by the likes of Maarten Baas, Hella Jongerius, and Patricia Urquiola. But while we’re always pleased to see design taken a bit more seriously, it wasn’t this auction’s star power but rather its conceptual conceit that intrigued us so. Curated by Murray Moss — with many of the selections coming from Moss’s own personal collection — the auction paired art and design pieces that seemed to share a common DNA, whether by virtue of material, technique, or appearance. The pairings were surprising and lovely, with the curves of Mattia Bonneti’s plump purple velvet sofa echoing Luciano Castelli’s reclining red nude, or the colored striations of Julien Carretero’s To Be Continued bench causing the same sense of vertigo as Doug Argue’s obsessive lines in (Untitled): Strata, 2011. (You can view the full catalog for yourself online here.) Perhaps best of all, the catalog was prefaced by an unusually personal story from Moss himself, who can seem a bit of a cipher to those not in his inner circle. We found the whole thing so interesting we’ve reprinted it in full here. Read on below, then follow our slideshow to see some of the highlights from last night.

  16. 10.15.12
    Reineke Otten’s World Skin Color scarves

    The New York International Gift Fair happens twice a year. And while Sight Unseen is hardly your typical product blog — and the fair notoriously focused on sales, not press — we often find ourselves roaming the aisles anyway, if only because it’s easy to catch up with so many people we know in one place. This year, we bumped into an old friend — but even if we hadn’t known her, we would have stalked her until she agreed to meet us for coffee on the basis of the incredibly gorgeous product she was hawking. The designer was Reineke Otten (who we first met in Rotterdam three years ago and who’s responsible for turning us on to amazing talents like Raw Color and Danielle Van Ark) and the product was Otten’s World Skin Color scarves, which translate an Excel spreadsheet worth of data about global complexion tones into beautiful square silk scarves, one for each country around the world. (That’s Bosnia, above.)

  17. 10.11.12
    Kiosk’s Obama 2012 Souvenirs

    In 1960, there was a noisemaker that said “Click with Dick,” endorsing Richard Nixon for President. In 1964, a canned novelty beverage promoted Barry Goldwater’s candidacy (“Gold Water: The Right Drink for the Conservative Taste”). But these days, with Shepard Fairey’s once-inescapable “Hope” poster on the wane, you’d be hard-pressed to find an election souvenir of note beyond the usual bumper stickers, commemorative mugs, and buttons. Enter Kiosk, New York’s go-to retailer for quirky housewares and objects from around the world. This week, Kiosk owners Alisa Grifo and Marco ter haar Romeny released a collection of five pro-Obama souvenirs, which sport cheekily retrograde slogans and riff on American-made objects the shop already had in stock.

  18. 09.27.12
    Isabel Wilson on Freunde Von Freunden

    There must have been something in the air back in 2009, because Freunde Von Freunden, the Berlin-based website whose voyeuristic, photography-based interviews are of a piece with our own obsessions (i.e. barging in on people’s home and workplaces and showing ourselves around) — started just a few weeks before Sight Unseen’s launch at the end of that year. “We never look for apartments but for people,” they say, and that’s always been our mission as well — to get at the personality behind the product, and the narrative behind each new release. To that end, since we introduced you last week to Isabel Wilson’s textile and jewelry line with Chen Chen — and considering we’ve more than covered her partner in crime — we figured it was high time to get to know the RISD grad’s incredible,intricate work. Luckily FvF beat us to it, with a gorgeously photographed editorial by photographer Brian Ferry, which appeared on the site just last month, and which we’re excerpting on Sight Unseen today.

  19. 09.20.12
    Reed / Chen: New work by Isabel Wilson & Chen Chen

    Isabel Wilson and Chen Chen have only been friends since May, but creatively you could easily see how they might have been separated at birth. Wilson, a RISD-trained textile designer who has done work for brands like Tucker and West Elm, creates digital prints by photographing objects and patterns — like close-ups of butterfly wings or details of her own paintings — and manipulating them in Photoshop, rescaling and warping each one into something abstract. Chen, a Pratt graduate who cut his teeth working for Moss, has built a brand based around a series of objects that reconstitute studio crap as beautiful objects, like resin-based coasters or cement bookends with stone scraps bulging from their triangular forms. In other words, says Chen, “We both work in layers to create abstract patterns from very common everyday source material.” It was only a matter of time, then, before they found an outlet for their collaborative efforts.

  20. 09.03.12
    Kyouei’s Dish of Light and Random Musical Box

    When the latest projects from the Japanese design company Kyouei came across the transom this weekend, we felt a bit like grandmothers. Which is odd, because we’re not old enough to be anyone’s grandmother, much less a Japanese product designer and sound producer who’s nine years our elder. But there was still a burst of “my how you’ve grown” pride bubbling up, considering we discovered Kouichi Okamoto’s firm back in our early I.D. magazine days, when he was still doing clever little Droog-ish housewares like light bulb–shaped paper lanterns and bowls that imitated crater lakes — before the vast majority of our fellow Americans even knew Kyouei existed. And look at Okamoto now! Making sophisticated sound machines, musical tables, and these amazing iron lamps that evoke modernist sculpture.

  21. 08.21.12
    A 20th Century Palate in The Gourmand Issue 00

    In the summer before starting Sight Unseen, one of us had a very brief flirtation with the idea of attending culinary school. Along with design, food is our great love, so we were pleased this week — and maybe even a little bit jealous — to stumble upon a new magazine out of London that unites the two disciplines in the most fantastic of ways. Called The Gourmand, the first issue tackles subjects ranging from David Shrigley’s new cookery-themed opera to Jeff Koons’s recipe for apple dumplings. But our favorite feature — plucked from the site’s website, which has a sprinkling of teasers for the print edition as well as practical food recommendations from artists, contributors and London’s culinary cognescenti — has to be this collaboration between art director Jamie Brown and photographer Luke Kirwan, which depicts 20th century art and design movements in foodstuffs like American cheese and pink wafer cookies.

  22. 08.20.12
    Study O Portable’s Neon Alphabet

    Whereas most of us may never fully grasp the meaning behind the testicular descension metaphors and self-referential glyphs woven throughout Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, the message behind his Drawing Restraint series — which has seen the artist challenge his creation process with obstacle courses and 270-pound dumbbells — couldn’t be more relatable: creativity flourishes in any struggle with limitations. Many designers, for example, profess to do their best work under the pressure of client briefs; then there are those, like the London duo Bernadette Deddens and Tetsuo Mukai of Study O Portable, who in the absence of such briefs will invent their own rules to work around. Since they started their studio in 2009, the couple have been using the alphabet as a testing ground for aesthetic and material experiments, producing letter sets in various combinations of wood, leather, and plastic that must conform to strict, self-imposed standards of size and legibility. “It’s really satisfying to work on the puzzle an ABC poses depending on one’s materials and techniques,” says Deddens. Their most recent is the Neon Alphabet, “a cross between signage, jewelry, and a font” that debuted at Design Miami/Basel this June with Belgian gallerist Caroline van Hoek.

  23. 07.24.12
    The 2012 Parsons Thesis Site

    As curatorial hunter-gatherers, we’re always on the lookout for new and unseen talents, and there’s no better place to spot them than at school thesis shows. But as workaholics who seldom have time to leave our home offices, much less attend these shows, they all too often remain off-limits to us. It’s a rare yet celebrated occasion any time we’re either sent a clear, comprehensive accounting of projects by graduating students, or become aware of a website that successfully catalogs them. Last week, we received an email from Parsons with just such a treat — the new multi-disciplinary Parsons thesis site, part of the two-year old Parsons Festival which flings open the doors of the school to the public each May for three weeks of exhibitions, workshops, and fashion shows. Grateful to have access to the event’s couch-potato version, we sifted through all the projects on the site and found the six we liked best: humorously cloying photographs of weird dollar-store finds by Antonia Basler, a series of poured-concrete side tables made in fabric molds by Isaac Friedman-Heiman, dresses that pay homage to Muybridge and Noguchi by Kaoru Oshima, photos by Charlie Rubin that blur the line between the real and the artificial, and minimalist versus maximalist origami garments by Yingshi June Lin and Si Lu. Have a look at the slideshow here, which is annotated with selections from the students’ thesis statements, then clear your calendar for next May so you’ll have no excuse not to join us at next year’s festival.

  24. 07.20.12
    Wing Yau of WWAKE on Muse & Maker

    At the beautiful new online journal Muse & Maker, UK-based graphic designer Emily Forgot indulges in some of our favorite pastimes: digging up gems on Etsy, surveying the world’s coolest shops, interviewing makers about their crafts, asking creatives to tell stories about their keepsakes, and spotlighting all manner of amazing handcrafted objects. We RSSed the site the minute we heard about it through our friend Bec Brittain, who was profiled there last month; considering how complementary our tastes are, we knew it was only a matter of time before Forgot turned her attentions to another designer who was near and dear to us. Enter Wing Yau of the jewelry line WWAKE, a RISD grad who approached us for a collaboration this past winter and ended up with two dip-dyed necklaces for sale exclusively in our online shop. Forgot interviewed Yau — whose work we love because of the way it manages to make something as rough and primitive as hand-knotted rope look so modern — about her working habits, her favorite spot in Vancouver, and her childhood immersion in South American crafts. Check out our excerpt of the Muse & Maker interview here, then pick up your own WWAKE necklace in the Sight Unseen shop!

  25. 07.10.12
    Jerpoint Irish Glass for Makers & Brothers

    Anyone who was in New York for our annual Noho Design District event this spring should be familiar with the Irish online homegoods brand Makers & Brothers; they would have been the ones making a beautiful mess on the floor of the Standard East Village hotel, as their woodworker James Wicklow carved stools made from Catskills-grade green ash by hand over the course of four days. But most of what namesake brothers Jonathan and Mark Legge do to showcase their particular brand of native handcrafted goods takes place a bit closer to home — which in their case is a shed located on the same property as their parents’ home and architectural practice in Dublin. Since founding their online retail venture less than a year ago, the two have made a point of visiting and documenting the workspaces of the people who create products for them — the basketweaver who grows her own willow on the banks of the River Boyne, the Irish RCA grad who knits stool covers from a warehouse in East London, and, most recently, a family of glassblowers in Kilkenny whose Jerpoint brand drinking vessels the brothers grew up with. When we wrote Jonathan to ask if we could reprint some of their text and photos on Sight Unseen, he confessed he hopes to collaborate soon with Jerpoint — so perhaps a follow-up story will be in the offing for fall. Until then, if you’re in Dublin, you can pop by the brothers’ shed this weekend for a summer opening. If not, live the Makers & Brothers life vicariously through our excerpt after the jump.