Category Archives: The Making of

  1. 07.28.15
    The Making Of
    Gyrecraft by Studio Swine

    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.

  2. 05.15.15
    The Making Of
    The Dynamic Sanctuary at Sight Unseen OFFSITE

    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.

  3. 05.13.15
    The Making Of
    Chris Wolston’s Fetish Lights

    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.

  4. 01.15.15
    The Making Of
    Eyebodega’s Vase Series

    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.

  5. 09.19.14
    The Making Of
    Steven Haulenbeek’s Ice-Cast Bronze Collection

    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.

  6. 01.21.14
    The Making Of
    The Stacks Series by Clemens Kois

    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.

  7. 11.22.13
    The Making Of
    Material Material, by Doug Johnston & Debbie Carlos

    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 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 (and an exhibition on that very theme is in the works, fingers crossed!) 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. The Michigan-based photographer and the Brooklyn-based designer spent the summer creating a series of objects under the name “Material Material,” for which they shipped each other the raw materials from which they could fashion several objects. The results were recently shown at the San Francisco shop Little Paper Planes. We asked Johnston and Carlos to take us through the project from start to finish.

  8. 11.05.13
    The Making Of
    Andy Rementer’s People Blocks

    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.

  9. 10.22.13
    The Making Of
    Lena Corwin’s Made By Hand

    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,

  10. 09.11.13
    The Making Of
    Nick Ross’s Objects of Ambiquity Series

    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.

  11. 07.23.13
    The Making Of
    TT and M by Thing Thing and Michael Savona

    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!

  12. 07.22.13
    The Making Of
    Wary Meyers’ Candles

    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.

  13. 06.13.13
    The Making of
    Rachel Hulin’s Flying Baby Series

    The photographs in Rachel Hulin’s Flying Series, in which her baby Henry appears to float in the landscape, have a dreamy, almost magical quality to them, but they started in the most pedestrian of ways: Hulin was kind of bored. A new mom who’d recently relocated from Brooklyn to Providence, Rhode Island, she says, “I was looking for a project to sink my teeth into while I was home with Henry when he was so little. I was trying figure out motherhood and the whole thing seemed so weird to me.” A former blogger and photo editor who’d spent the better part of nine years constantly looking at pictures, she was aware of a genre of photos called “floaters” and was interested in the figure in landscape as well — “finding a beautiful scene and somehow making it more personal by putting someone you love in it,” she says. She never expected to do a floating series of her own, but once she did one photo, she was kind of hooked. “Partly it was being in a new city, trying to find special places with a baby,” she says. “It was a nice thing to do together. It became what we did in the afternoons.”

  14. 03.26.13
    The Making Of
    Elyse Graham’s Geodes

    It seems fitting that we were first introduced to Elyse Graham’s Geodes during our Hotel California show at last year’s Noho Design District. After all, there’s something distinctly Californian in the born-and-bred Los Angeles artist’s work. In her Geodes project, for which Graham casts layers of colorful urethane around a balloon mold, there are hints of the desert, psychedelia, yoga, and the wind. If that all sounds a little fuzzy, the objects themselves are not: Sawed open, they reveal incredibly beautiful swirls of color and texture that are the result of a process that’s somehow both carefully calibrated and entirely left to chance. We asked Graham herself to explain how she achieves that effect, and to take us through her entire process.

  15. 01.30.13
    The Making Of
    Shatter Vases by Pete Oyler and Misha Kahn for Assembly

    If you have a great design sense, and if you enjoy sending people flowers, you’ve probably noticed by now that the two don’t exactly tend to play well together. Unless you’re clued into a place like The Sill, our new favorite Brooklyn-based succulent delivery service, you know your lucky recipient is most likely going to receive their posies in some boring glass trifle that will inevitably end up in the freebie box at his or her next garage sale. That’s why when young designers Misha Kahn and Pete Oyler hit up a Salvation Army looking for castoff vessels to experiment with for their latest project, they had absolutely no trouble filling up their cart. It’s tough out there for a generic FTD vase, especially one whose emptiness eventually reminds you of a failed relationship or a hospital stay. Kahn and Oyler decided that, just in time for Valentine’s Day, they’d take their thrifted castoffs and give them new lives as objets d’art, filling them with colored resin and shattering them in place (hence the name). “We wanted to capture the instantaneous,” the pair write in their project description. “The gesture of shattering and freezing the vases simultaneously subverts their typical use and life-cycle while reconstituting them as extraordinary objects: Each is completely unique in both in its contents and configuration.” Kahn and Oyler have described to us in detail after the jump the process behind the vases; as of tomorrow, you’ll be able to buy one for your sweetheart — or yourself — on Assembly’s website.

  16. 12.21.12
    The Making Of
    Archivo Diario by Melinda Santillan and Marco Rountree Cruz

    If you’re the kind of person who pays attention to Pinterest, you may have spotted the playful image above making the rounds there as of late. But we can pretty much guarantee you don’t know the story of the two Mexican artists who created it — and the blog it’s pulled from, Archivo Diario — which turns out to be one of the more amusing tales we’ve heard in awhile. We were lucky enough to meet Marco Rountree Cruz and Melinda Santillan at a party thrown this fall by Jennilee Marigomen of 01 Magazine, and we decided to keep in touch with the Mexico City–based couple, who launched Archivo Diario three months ago both as a way to force themselves to create something new every day and to try their hand at working together (Cruz being a successful installation artist and Santillan more of an art director). But when we dug a little deeper, we found out that the endeavor was technically their second collaboration, and was in many ways a direct reaction to the failure of first: an elaborate script for a stylized telenovela that they dreamed of actually producing, but that has since languished in their desk drawer. We were so impressed by the couple’s boundless creative ambitions — just wait until you hear about the crazy project Cruz is working on now — that we begged them to tell us everything

  17. 11.29.12
    The Making Of
    Malin Gabriela Nordin’s Children’s Workshop

    Malin Gabriela Nordin isn’t the type who’d be quick to align herself with an art movement — the 24-year-old prefers to stay as insulated as possible from outside influences, which is why she left her friends and family in Stockholm four years ago to attend art school in comparably tiny Bergen, Norway. But as it turns out, Nordin is something of a Surrealist, at least from where we’re standing: Everything about her process is geared towards connecting with her subconscious, from letting her sculptures develop intuitively and spontaneously to painting with quick-dry acrylics, eliminating any lag between her mind and the canvas. And then there’s her obsession with children. “My work has to do with reconstructing fragments from memories, and I’ve been working with my own childhood a lot,” she says. “I think of kids at that age as more free.” It’s that notion that led Dalí and Picasso to pay homage to the creativity of the pint-sized, and that led Nordin to make them the subject of her senior graduation project, inviting eleven children to participate in her artistic process.

  18. 07.31.12
    The Making Of
    Office by Studio Swine

    Things are winding down here at Sight Unseen HQ, where as of tomorrow we’ll be on a much-needed summer holiday for two weeks. So today, we bring you an appropriately tiny story about a very tiny project: an office by Studio Swine in London’s Soho neighborhood where three people share a 100 square-foot space. We first learned about the duo — RCA product-design grads Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves — during this year’s Noho Design District, where they showed a series of golden geometric button covers in the Once Removed show at our 22 Bond space. We were further intrigued by works like their recycled-plastic Sea Chair. But if you read our story yesterday on Kent Fonn Skåre, you already know why we find this simple office scheme particularly endearing — not only does it take advantage of pegboard to maximize wall space, but it’s also inspired by “New York Art Deco meets Memphis,” say the designers, and it uses a freewheeling mix of contrasting materials like marble, colored steel, linoleum, and reclaimed wood. After reading a bit more below from Murakami and Groves about how they constructed the various elements of the office, stay tuned for your chance to purchase their geometric marmoleum wall pouches, coming soon to the Sight Unseen shop!

  19. 07.27.12
    The Making Of
    Rich Brilliant Willing’s Bar Kit for Karlsson’s

    When the then-babyfaced trio Rich Brilliant Willing burst onto the New York design scene a few years ago, they were working in a signature style that’s since become de rigueur both here and across the Atlantic: material-blocking, as I like to call it, which is kind of like color-blocking but with uninterrupted chunks of contrasting yet complementary materials, often including marble and/or offbeat metals. The boys still tend to put the focus on materials one way or another in their work, but their recent projects have relied much less heavily on the mixed-media technique — until now. Earlier this week they launched the RBW Bar Kit pictured above, as the third installment of the Unfiltered Project by Karlsson’s Vodka — for which we had the honor of creating the first — and going back to their roots made a particular sense in light of the project’s brief. Picking up on the raw and unfiltered theme, the designers chose four elemental materials from nature and presented them as simply as possible. Working with craftspeople in Brooklyn, they had aluminum and marble discs cut that, when stacked, function as an oversized grinder, perfect for prepping the cracked black pepper that Karlsson’s uses in its signature reductive cocktail. Topped with two mouth-blown glasses and a dome, under which one might store a bottle of the brand’s limited-edition vintage, the Bar Kit is a strikingly sculptural homage to the fine art of tippling. We got the scoop from Rich Brilliant Willing’s Theo Richardson on exactly how it was made.

  20. 07.26.12
    The Making Of
    Lex Pott’s True Colours Series

    In some ways, it seems fate that Dutch designer Lex Pott would end up working in a studio housed in an old shipyard in the northern precincts of Amsterdam. As a child growing up in Hilversum, 30 miles outside the city, Pott was obsessed with boats, constantly crafting miniature ones from the natural debris he’d find in the forest around his house, and using old plastic bags as sails. And in the short time since he set up his studio, after graduating from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2009, he’s built up a small body of work centered around the very phenomenon that’s known to wreak havoc on seafaring vessels: oxidation. Pott has shot to fame in recent months on the basis of Transience, a series of silvered geometric mirrors designed in collaboration with fellow Eindhoven grad David Derksen. But the project that started it all, True Colours, was less a product than an investigation into the nature of color: Pott took standard sheets of industrial metals — copper, brass, steel, and aluminum — and played with oxidizing them by various methods, in the process creating a highly individualized palette he could, in theory, apply to any metal object.

  21. 06.28.12
    The Making Of
    Josh Bitelli’s Forfars Bakery and Roadworkers Projects

    If you’re lucky enough to be visiting next week’s New Designers show in London, which functions like a giant coming-out party for each year’s batch of graduating UK design students, you’re apt to see plenty of examples of projects meant to highlight how things are made. But only for one of them, presumably, will those things be mass-produced bread and highways. For his thesis at Brighton University of Architecture & Design, erstwhile Max Lamb intern Josh Bitelli got to know his local bakers and roadworkers, collaborating with each of them to produce a series of trophies, vases, and furnishings made from the raw materials used by two overlooked, workaday industries. Much like Carly Mayer’s documentation of roof-tile and fireworks factories previously published on Sight Unseen, Bitelli’s investigation into these “integral yet inaccessible” domains, as he puts it, explores the idea that “we have little idea of the inner workings of industrial production, and little or no relation to the people behind the scenes.” Check out the two resulting series in more depth after the jump, including making-of videos and photographs shot by the designer.

  22. 05.03.12
    The Making Of
    Sneak Peek at the 2012 Noho Design District

    If we’ve been quiet this week, it’s because — as usual — we’re up to something big, something outside the realm of the digital. In this case, that something is the 2012 Noho Design District, taking place in New York’s Noho neighborhood in just two short weeks, from May 18 to 21. We founded the NDD three years ago to ensure that there would always be a place for the kind of design we love during New York Design Week — independent talents, innovative brands, and an emphasis on the creative, not just the commercial — and our efforts have only grown since then. With the help of the local organization Noho-Bowery Stakeholders, this year’s show promises more locations than ever, including two new brand new hubs: the former photo studio at 22 Bond, and the Standard, East Village hotel, where Sonos will help us host a series of exhibitions that includes a showcase of California design curated by your faithful editors. Other exciting developments: The new city-wide design-week coalition we’re a part of (check out the site for details), and a shuttle that will be looping around town to all the hotspots during ICFF, including Noho. There’s still a lot left to be done before then, but we wanted to take a moment to give you a sneak peek of what’s in progress; the process images below were submitted by some of the designers whose work you’ll see on view at the Noho Design District. We can’t wait to show you the final results.

  23. 04.17.12
    The Making Of
    Philippe Malouin’s Intarsia Bowl for Carwan Gallery

    On Friday we introduced you to Oeuffice’s Ziggurat Towers for the Beirut-based Carwan Gallery, and today it’s the gallery’s contribution from London designer Philippe Malouin, who’s also showing with Plus Design and Kvadrat in Milan this week. Malouin was one of nine designers — along with Karen Chekerdjian, Khalid Shafar, Lindsey Adelman, Studio mischer’traxler, Nada Debs, Oeuffice, Paul Loebach, and Tamer Nakisci — who traveled to the Middle East late last year for a grand tour of artisan’s studios, each pairing up with a different craftsperson to produce a new twist on an old archetype or technique. What caught Malouin’s eye was the wood-inlay method called intarsia, in which pieces of various types of wood are cut and assembled into a jigsaw-puzzle like image or pattern that often has the illusion of depth. Rather than using the method in a conventional way, however — as a decorative add-on — he tried something a little bit different; here, he explains how he arrived at the final design for his Intarsia Bowl.

  24. 04.13.12
    The Making Of
    Oeuffice’s Ziggurat Tower for Carwan Gallery

    The Milan furniture fair starts next Tuesday and, crazy enough, the editors of Sight Unseen are sitting this one out — we’ve got too much going on at home this year, between our pop-up shop at Creatures of Comfort and the 2012 Noho Design District, which is shaping up to be much bigger and better than ever. We’ll still be reporting on Milan via the snapshots of a select group of friends and collaborators, but meanwhile, we figured we’d at least bring you one or two previews of pieces you’ll be seeing next week, beginning with the latest offerings from the Beirut-based Carwan Gallery. Founded by architect Pascale Wakim and jetsetter Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, who’s also a partner in Montreal’s Samare and the newer Milan-based design outfit Oeuffice, Carwan began its second collection — which technically launched last month at Design Days Dubai — by organizing a field trip of sorts for its designers. Karen Chekerdjian, Khalid Shafar, Lindsey Adelman, Studio mischer’traxler, Nada Debs, Oeuffice, Paul Loebach, Philippe Malouin, and Tamer Nakisci all traveled to the Middle East for a grand tour of artisan’s studios, each pairing up with a different craftsperson to produce a new twist on an old archetype or technique. Here, the duo behind Oeuffice, whose work revolves around research into architectural forms, reveal the story behind their contribution to the exhibition, a series of boxes inspired by ancient Middle Eastern structures.

  25. 01.06.12
    The Making Of
    Skin Rugs by Agustina Woodgate, Artist

    Agustina Woodgate is one of those artists whose work is defined by its very resistance to definition: Wooden doormats, inspirational poems secretly sewn to thrift store tags, fairy tale–themed performance pieces — it can be hard to see the thread. That is, until you notice her obsession with bizarre materials. Woodgate once made a chandelier out of 36 yards of defective fishing line, while her Tower series comprises 4.5-foot turrets whose miniature bricks — nearly 3,000 of them — were woven from human hair she collected while offering random pedestrians free haircuts on the streets of Miami. And then there are her Skin Rugs, which she patches together from the hides of used stuffed animals, a kind of distant cousin to the Campana brothers’ Banquete chair. It’s hardly a surprise when Woodgate says she finds inspiration in everything: “I’m just a very curious person,” she says.