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Antonio Bokel’s Temporary Amsterdam Workshop

For Brazilian artist Antonio Bokel, arriving at the Sid Lee creative offices in Amsterdam this May — where he was about to spend two weeks doing on-site prep for an in-house exhibition — was like a dream come true. For starters, the city’s garbagemen had just gone on strike, leaving mountains of detritus for him to incorporate into his Twombly-esque compositions. And then there was the location itself, arranged for him by local curator and writer Alexandra Onderwater: Having gone to school for graphic design, Bokel has spent nearly a decade using the visual tools of advertising and propaganda against themselves, Shepard Fairey-style, and here he was setting up shop in the back of a marketing agency. The juxtaposition "was a big influence on the show,” he says of his final installation, layered with spray paint, found objects, and words bleeding onto the walls.
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Xavier Mañosa of Apparatu

The world has its share of design couples — husbands and wives who work together in the studio day in and day out with seemingly infrequent urges to kill one another. But Xavier Mañosa, the 28-year-old Spanish ceramicist who goes by the name Apparatu, may be the only designer we know who works every day alongside his parents.
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Carmen D'Apollonio (left) and Guya Marini (right), in a portrait taken by their friend Walter Pfeiffer, the Swiss photographer. The designers often collaborate on projects with other creative talents, including their lookbooks, which are art-directed by a different person each season. Pfeiffer did one, as did Urs Fischer.

Ikou Tschüss, Fashion Designers

It takes the Zürich-based fashion duo Ikou Tschüss a full week to hand-knit the blankets from their winter collection — each ringed with dangling sleeves to appear as though it’s hugging the bed — and maybe a day to knit one of their bulky sweater dresses. Even silk shifts are hand-printed and edged with rows of crochet, the pair's signature trope. Add to all that labor the fact that Carmen D'Apollonio spends the majority of her time in New York, where she’s been the right-hand-woman to Swiss artist Urs Fischer for the past eight years, and it’s a good thing she and partner Guya Marini have help. “Most of our knitting is done by Swiss grandmothers now,” says Marini.
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Since they began making arrows eight months ago, Cohen and Signorile have made more than 200. Signorile feathers and paints, while Cohen does the threadwork.

Fredericks and Mae, Artists

For a studio that crafts objects evocative of summer-camp bliss, Fredericks & Mae have an awfully dark creation story. For the last eight months, Gabriel Fredericks Cohen and Jolie Mae Signorile have been hard at work fletching, painting, and spinning bright polyester thread around their custom-made arrows, which sell for $95 apiece at boutiques like Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Partners & Spade. But when they met senior year at Oberlin, says Signorile, “Gabe was really into the apocalypse and I was obsessed with nostalgia. When we got into it, we realized they were kind of about the same thing: a fear of the future.”
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Behind the design team's desks is an inspiration board that serves as an unofficial guide to seasonal trends. Many of their cues are taken directly from the runway — mostly because it's often the kind of thing their clients call and request — but other times it's up to their intuition to know when to bring in a tie-dye print, or retire a Mod one. Art nouveau, for instance, was all over the recent Prada resort line, but the team had trouble selling it nonetheless. ("The client will go, 'I love this personally, but it's not our girl,'" explains one of the Printfresh designers.) So instead they've stuck more to ethnic and tribal prints for summer — trends with a bit more obvious momentum.

Printfresh, Textile Designers

It's easy to imagine the backstory of a Prada print: Miuccia has a concept for the season, and either a high-end Italian fabric vendor or her own design team supplies prints just for her. But consider a patterned polyester work shirt from Kmart, and you'd never guess that a RISD textile-design grad like Amy Voloshin might be behind it, translating those runway looks into something that appeals to mainstream Americans. It's an art unto itself: "I have a list of things I roll through in my head when I design for those clients: Is the print pretty? Is it scary, thorny, or edgy? If it is, it's not going to work."
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Julie Ho and Nick Andersen in their Manhattan studio, which they share with the graphic designer Alex Lin. On the fourth floor is New York's only veterinary dermatologist, which is "why you see all the weird-looking dogs in the lobby," they joke. Behind them is one of their large party garlands, a design they originally developed for their very first project, the Spring '09 United Bamboo fashion show and lookbook.

Confetti System, Decoration Designers

Between the two of them, Julie Ho and Nicholas Andersen had designed clothing, jewelry, movie sets, music videos, and Martha Stewart shoots, plus dabbled in painting, drawing, pattern-making, sewing, and crocheting before teaming up creatively in 2008. Ho had even been a studio assistant for Tom Sachs, making foam Hello Kittys with a medical scalpel (and slicing open her hands almost weekly in the process). So it took a particular kind of alchemy for the pair to decide that — out of all their talents and interests — they would devote their days to making paper party decorations, the kind you'd expect to find in a dollar store.
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A typical vignette in the Scholten & Baijings studio includes graphic tests and models for their latest furniture collection, plus strange ephermera like a tiny silver spray bottle that contains a distilled spirit for perfuming almost anything edible.

Scholten & Baijings, Product Designers

The story of Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings began, like many Dutch stories do, in a church. In the late ’90s, Baijings was working for an agency whose headquarters were located inside one of the country’s many abandoned houses of worship. Scholten, a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, had a burgeoning design practice nearby. Scholten was asked to design a small bar for the agency’s office, and “the rest is history,” says Baijings.
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Lineaus Hooper Lorette in his Ft. Davis workshop, just outside Marfa, Texas. The front of the studio is where he makes Lineaus Athletic Company balls, bars, and bags, while the back — a weight room — is where he uses them. He's sold medicine balls to nearly every national football championship team. "You're looking at the world's best," he says. "No one puts the investment into making them that I do."

Lineaus Athletic Company

Lineaus Hooper Lorette makes $650 leather medicine balls in a workshop just outside the desert art mecca of Marfa, Texas. He sells the balls to college athletic departments and "very rich men," many of whom admire them for their old-school charm. (Mick Jagger once bought four.) But Lorette isn't a hipster, nor is he an artist.
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“In a way, Best Made was actually a product of the recession,” says Buchanan-Smith. “I had to close my office and lay off my staff. I was living in New Jersey and I had this garage I’d always wanted to use as a workshop.” The first few prototypes were painted there; now the axes are forged in Maine by America’s oldest axe-maker then hand-painted here, in Buchanan-Smith’s Tribeca studio.

Peter Buchanan-Smith, Graphic Designer and Axe-Maker

Ah, the impotence of the urban dweller. Ever since the Best Made Company axe debuted this spring, you’d be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who isn’t dying to snap open that wooden case and heave the Tennessee hickory–handled thing at… well, what, exactly? “At first I thought a lot of New Yorkers would buy them,” says Peter Buchanan-Smith, the New York–based graphic designer who founded the company along with his childhood pal Graeme Cameron. But it turns out the best audience for an axe — even one with a handle saturated in gorgeous shades of spray paint — is a person who actually might use an axe.
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Sister-and-brother team Georgie and Alex Cleary founded Alpha60 in Melbourne in 2005. The label's unofficial tagline is "sophisticated quirk" — the pair likes each piece to have some point of difference, something that sets it apart from the fashion norm. Photo by Annevi Petersson

Alpha60, Clothing Designers

When you're a graphic designer and an aircraft engineer with zero fashion training, and yet you find yourself becoming the go-to clothing line of Melbourne — worn by the likes of Patti Smith, LCD Soundsystem, and Jamie Oliver — you learn to get really good at improvising. And trusting your instincts. So it goes for Alex and Georgie Cleary, the brother-and-sister duo behind Alpha60, who base its designs not on fashion trends but on whatever random pop-culture reference they happen to be into at any given moment.
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Bec Brittain in her Bushwick, Brooklyn, home studio. Behind her is one of two knotted-rope "waterfalls" now on view in the Ramiken Crucible show, where they're continuously bathed with crystal solution and should eventually crust over.

Bec Brittain, Artist and Designer

When most of us get a package in the mail, it’s the book we ordered from Amazon, or a birthday gift from our parents. When Bec Brittain gets a package, it’s usually full of dead bugs. She orders them in bulk off the internet for a dollar a pop, then chops them into pieces and transforms them into hybrid bug-monsters.
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Almost everything the Iriarte sisters know about hand-tooling leather, they taught themselves. Four years later, "we're still not geniuses at it," says Sol. But you'd never know it — the bag line is doing well, and when we visited, the pair were in talks with their first American retailer.

Iriarte Iriarte, Clothing Designers

For more than three years, the Argentinean sisters Sol Caramilloni Iriarte and Carolina Lopez Gordillo Iriarte kept a design studio on the second floor of a building in Barcelona, handcrafting an eponymous line of leather bags in relative privacy. Sol, 32, was working part-time as a set designer for films; Carolina, 25, had just finished a year apprenticing under her friend Muñoz Vrandecic, the Spanish couture shoemaker. Called Iriarte Iriarte, it was a modest operation. Then in June, fate intervened.
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