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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 DesignweekNYC.org 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.
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.
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.