At a material level, Gyrecraft is a collection of high-end objects made with plastic debris reclaimed from the ocean. But the significance of the project lies in the complex historic and cultural references woven into its narrative and assembled into a compelling critique of the modern concept of luxury.
Sight Unseen OFFSITE opens today, and front and center at this year's show is an undulating structure that, from a distance, looks incredibly mysterious — its walls are made from an unusual material, and they periodically emit a strange, pulsing blue glow. As you approach the structure, you first pass through a very narrow entryway that obscures your view of what's inside, but once you arrive there — well, that's the magic of the Dynamic Sanctuary, an installation by the Brooklyn design studio The Principals that's a kind of poetic metaphor for the design ideas behind Ford's 2015 Edge vehicle.
One of the many great things about living in this post-Postmodern, cyber-gray area of the 2k10s, is that artists and designers can draw inspiration from pretty much any culture or period and come away with something new and exciting. There's the brightly colored, geometric, “playful” route that has become so popular with today’s makers — and then there’s Brooklyn’s Chris Wolston. His approach to making is often from a primordial or primitive perspective, where senses of the handmade and the human spirit are easily discernable.
If we had a nickel for every time we heard a designer or artist express the desire to work across scales, disciplines, or dimensions, we could probably buy one of these. But earlier this week was the first time we’d heard this zeitgeisty little zinger: “It’s exciting to be producing things we can share with people, as opposed to just clicking a ‘share’ button.” While most graphic design studios dabble in physicality by way of books and other printed ephemera, the young New York duo Eyebodega — to whose co-principal Rob Chabebe said quote can be attributed — have been using 3-D printing to quite literally turn their Pinterest-ready digital illustrations into objects you can have and hold.
We’ve heard of something being a product of its environment, but never has that phrase rung so true as it does with the pieces in Steven Haulenbeek’s Ice-Cast Bronze series, on view this month at Chicago’s Casati Gallery, which were made largely in a trough of ice outside Haulenbeek’s studio window during last winter’s deep freeze. Haulenbeek — who knows from frigid winters, having grown up and studied sculpture in Michigan and lived in Chicago for the better part of his adult life — originally conceived the series back in 2011, when he was fooling around with pouring wax into frozen puddles on Chicago’s city streets. But this winter’s extreme conditions — while providing little but consternation for everyone else — gave Haulenbeek the opportunity to take the whole operation onto a much larger scale. We recently spoke with the Chicago-based designer to find out a little more about the origins and making of his new collection.
Not everyone would spot the potential magic in a cluster of their children's medicine bottles, or in utilitarian household items like batteries, lightbulbs, and binder clips. But before he began constructing and shooting teetering towers of such trifles, photographer Clemens Kois had plenty of practice: as a longtime flea market enthusiast and avid collector — of Carl Aübock designs, among many others — he had spent decades perceiving a heightened level of beauty and value in objects others might overlook. Each image in his ongoing Stacks series always begins with a few such things he's harvested from somewhere in his New York apartment, which he builds into a delicately balanced vertical composition, like arranging the notes in a song.
The practice of two artists collaborating by mail is nothing new; after all, that’s how Peter Shire communicated ideas to his Memphis colleagues back in 1980s Milan and how Alex Segreti and Kelly Rakowski of New Friends got their start (with the former in Philly and the latter in New York.) But what happens when you elevate that practice to something more like a parlor game? We here at Sight Unseen had been wondering that ourselves, which is why we were especially tickled when we found out that Debbie Carlos and Doug Johnston — two of our favorites — had recently happened upon the exact same idea.
One of the only things that bummed us out about doing a printed edition last year was that it was, in the end, an edition — only 400 of you (give or take a few) ever read the stories housed within its covers. Take Andy Rementer’s Inventory story, for which the Philadelphia-based illustrator styled and photographed his own creative influences, which ran from vintage lettering manuals to Italo comics. It was one of our favorite stories we’ve ever published. But the good thing about creative people is that they tend to keep creating awesomely publishable things, so today we bring you Rementer’s latest: interchangeable “People Blocks,” created in collaboration with the Belgium-based object editors Case Studyo.
The sense that anyone can attempt these 26 DIYs — which include tie-dying with Shabd Simon-Alexander, jewelry-making with Jennifer Sarkilahti of Odette, and marbling with Ilana Kohn — comes in part from the incredibly detailed, step-by-step photographs, which were taken during the course of a weeklong shoot last fall at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes, of the photography site 3191 Miles Apart, who also shot the film photographs documenting the day-by-day of the shoot, which we're sharing here today,
In the fictional narrative behind his Objects of Ambiquity series, Nick Ross is a designer from the future who's been hired by a history museum called The Institution to work as an "object mediator," delving into the origins and possible uses of any mysterious artifacts the rest of the staff can't identify. When he presented the project at the Konstfack graduate thesis show earlier this year — including his White Lies table (pictured above), A Mirror Darkly, and Baltic Gold shelves — he staged the presentation as if it were a snapshot from The Institution itself, his pieces being among the targets of his imagined discovery process. "The story of Objects of Ambiquity is a vessel used to highlight the role of fiction within historical records," says Ross. "While doing this, it simultaneously questions the designer’s possible future role within this context and how this will alter our understanding of what a museum is." The White Lies table, for example, examines how hard it is for us to accept new discoveries that fundamentally alter what we thought we knew about historical events and cultures (in this case, the fact that many ancient Greek and Roman statues were actually painted in bright, some might say "garish," colors). A Mirror Darkly reflects on how much conjecture is involved in the analysis of ancient objects. Read on to learn more about both objects and see how they were made.
Creative collaborations can go one of two ways: Either it's obvious where one person's influence begins and the other's ends, or it isn't. You get a minotaur, or you get a liger. When the quirky plastics researchers at Thing Thing teamed up with the graphic designer Michael Savona for a recent joint project, the result was pretty much the former — typography come to life, in the form of recycled-plastic stools handmade with l0-fi fabrication techniques developed by Thing Thing. We first caught sight of the series at the Chicagoland exhibition at Wanted Design this past May, where we chatted with Savona about it; we figured there must be a pretty interesting story behind how the pieces were made, and we were right!
If you want to put too fine a point on it, you could say that John and Linda Meyers specialize professionally in obscurity. The couple run a brand and webshop called Wary Meyers, where they sell flea-market ephemera that often have a delightful but abstruse narrative attached, and their own goods like Gonks, which are handmade creatures for kids based on an old World War I British archetype. They also made themselves scarce a few years ago when John, a former visual merchandiser at Anthropologie, and Linda, an art director, picked up and left Manhattan for a quieter life in Portland, Maine. But as a young couple with a very young child, they felt increasingly that they ought to be investing their time in something that might one day become ubiquitous: “The thing with our company is we’ve always done a lot of one-offs and prototypes — things where we’ll make one item and then it’s like, ‘Well, how do we produce them somewhat cheaply and not in China?’” says Linda. “And everything we did before seemed slightly esoteric. We had a book where we did 50 DIY projects and people loved the products and were like, ‘Do you want to sell them?’ And it was kind of like, ‘Well, do you want to pay $1500 for a dresser?’” Which is why last week, the couple released their first — “dare I say mainstream?” jokes Linda — product: A line of scented candles with iconic-seeming packaging and incredibly inviting-sounding scents.