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Category Archives: The Making of

  1. 11.08.10
    The Making Of
    David Huycke’s Granulation Series

    The history of the metalworking technique known as granulation stretches back some 5,000 years, to when ancient goldsmiths in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean began fusing tiny ornamental gold balls onto jewelry surfaces using a painstaking invisible soldering process. It was used to decorate the rings of the queen of Ur in the Bronze Age, perfected by the Etruscans in the 7th century BC, and resurrected in 1933 by a jewelry maker looking to copy pieces from the British Museum’s collection. Yet only when the contemporary Belgian silversmith David Huycke began experimenting with the obscure technique in 1996 did it feel like granulation had finally evolved — beyond the realm of fussy antique jewelry and into the world of modern design. For Re-Thinking Granulation, Huycke’s show of granulated vessels and atomic sculptures on view now at the design museum Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium, he’s worked on a blown-up scale and forsaken the idea of ornamentation in favor of letting each object’s form grow organically from the process used to make it.

  2. 10.27.10
    The Making Of
    Kwangho Lee’s Enamel-Skinned Copper Series

    Kwangho Lee fancies himself a simple man. The 29-year-old grew up on a farm in South Korea watching his mother knit clothes and his grandfather make tools with his bare hands, which ultimately became the inspirations behind his work. He values nostalgia and rejects greed, and more like a craftsman than a designer, he prefers sculpting and manipulating ordinary materials to engineering the precise outcome of an object. “I dream of producing my works like a farmer patiently waiting to harvest the rice in autumn after planting the seed in spring,” he muses on his website. It all starts to sound a bit trite, but then you see the outcome: hot-pink shelves knitted from slick PVC tubing, lights suspended inside a mess of electrical wire, towering Impressionist thrones carved from blocks of black sponge. Lee may have old-fashioned ideals, but he designs for the modern world, and that’s the kind of transformative alchemy that draws people to an artist.

  3. 09.20.10
    The Making Of
    Andrea Maack’s Fragrance Line

    How do you turn a drawing into a fragrance? That’s the oddly conceived question Icelandic artist Andrea Maack began asking herself months ago when she first began to contemplate entering the world of scent design. The answer has never quite presented itself — Maack has yet to meet the small-scale French perfumer who turns her pencil strokes into notes of orange blossom, sandalwood, and violet leaf — but for her, the link between the two mediums is relatively obvious. “I believe that perfumes have colors,” the Reykjavik-based artist told me over the phone from London last week. “It’s very clear to me which perfumes are black, or which are white. But I also see scent as a linear thing — it travels on your skin and travels in the air, which in some way relates to lines traveling on a page.”

  4. 08.11.10
    The Making Of
    Everyday Growing by Juliette Warmenhoven

    Juliette Warmenhoven grew up in Holland’s so-called bulb district, near Haarlem, in a small village called Hillegom. Her father is a flower farmer. If it all sounds very quaint, it might have been 20 years ago — but then tulip production went the way of the meat industry thanks to globalization, and farming became a race to create the maximum amount of homogenous bulbs in the shortest amount of time. “My father feels farming is like working in a factory now,” says the Arnhem-based designer. Just as shrink-wrapped steak has been divorced from the killing of the cow, plants are more about the perfection of the end product than the actual growing process. “I believe that when you explain that process to people, they get more feeling out of it,” she says. For Everyday Growing, her graduation project at Arnhem’s ArtEZ school, she built a series of small monuments to plants’ humble — and often imperfect — origins.

  5. 07.23.10
    The Making Of
    Amy Helfand’s Garland Rugs

    Even though Brooklyn-based artist Amy Helfand has been designing rugs on commission from her Red Hook studio since 2004 — hand-knotted wool rugs, it should be mentioned, that sell for at least $125 a square foot — she still has trouble defining herself in those terms. “Up until recently, I never really thought about rugs,” she says. “I thought about making my artwork, and some of that artwork I’d make into rugs. But it was never like ‘Ok, this one comes in 5×7 and 6×9.’

  6. 06.28.10
    The Making Of
    Sylvain Willenz’s Print Lamp for Established & Sons

    Imagine you’d never driven a car before. A bike, sure, but never an automated vehicle — until one day the head of the Indianapolis 500 called you up out of the blue, inviting you down to the track to do unlimited test laps under the guidance of his star drivers. That’s pretty much what happened to Belgian designer Sylvain Willenz in 2008, except that instead of cars it was glass, a material with which he was wholly unfamiliar before arriving at the famed European glassmaking research center CIRVA, where he’d been hand-picked for a residency. Slightly less sexy than a Maserati, but a dream for a young talent like Willenz. “A lot of amazing artists have come through here: Richard Deacon, Gaetano Pesce, Sottsass, the Bouroullecs, Pierre Charpin,” he says, speaking from his room at the 27-year-old Marseilles facility, which is funded by the French government. “The idea is not to end up with something, but to try something. They’re very open to people coming here who don’t know anything about glass, like me — and that that’s what’s going to produce something interesting.”

  7. 06.02.10
    The Making of
    BCXSY's Join Room Divider

    On a sunny afternoon during this spring’s Milan furniture fair, blissfully unaware of the encroaching cloud of ash, I made my way through the maze of exhibitions at Spazio Rossani Orlandi, the former factory turned gallery and shop off Corso Magenta. As usual, there was plenty to see: During the fair, the gallery practically splits its seams with new work, giving over corners of the courtyard and even parts of the stairwell as exhibition space for young talent. In the basement, I encountered a bottleneck. Nearly everyone passing through the room occupied by the Eindhoven-based duo BCXSY was stopping to gape at the young couple’s latest offering: a trio of Japanese screens in hinoki cypress wood, each designed as two geometric shapes intersecting in beautifully woven grids.

  8. 05.20.10
    The Making Of
    Apartamento's Tasca Dinner

    Most people run around during ICFF frantically gathering design leads. But for Apartamento editor Marco Velardi, it was zucchini — about 6 pounds per night, to be exact. Tasked with organizing three dinners during the furniture fair in New York, “I had to pick them every day, individually, choosing ones that weren’t too big or too fucked up as the skin was an important part of the dish,” he says. “I got to know all the guys working in the fresh veggie department at Whole Foods, and I imagine they thought I was the crazy zucchini guy when I kept asking for more.” The summer squash became a salad doused with lemon and olive oil, the second of four courses at the dinner Sight Unseen attended this past Sunday along with Todd Selby, Rich Brilliant Willing, the editors of Dossier, and half a dozen other New York creatives.

  9. 04.21.10
    The Making of
    Corvo, by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance

    During the annual Milan Furniture Fair, booths bubble over with new items, carefully chosen props, and company spokespeople running around trying to sell you on the relevance of it all. Rare is the company that focuses its energies on a single product. But last week, in a quiet courtyard off Via Savona, the American manufacturer Bernhardt Design did just that, introducing its first product by Parisian designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance: Corvo, a warm, curvaceous wood seat with a complicated beveling system and legs that in the back resolve into shapely architectural T-sections.

  10. 04.19.10
    The Making Of
    Process at the Milan Furniture Fair

    Tom Dixon, Bram Boo, e15, and Thomas Eyck all showed products in copper at the 2010 Milan Furniture Fair, which closes today. There was also a minor strain of fur-covered chairs — plus one hairy, Cousin-It-style storage unit by the Campana Brothers for Edra — and a tendency toward LED and OLED lighting. But as far as Sight Unseen is concerned, the only trend worth writing home about was the diaristic glimpse into process that so many designers chose to offer this year, supplementing their finished products with sketches, models, and real-time demonstrations.

  11. 03.01.10
    The Making of
    Welcome to Vörland, by Reed Young

    Reed Young’s photography career has taken him from a sumo wrestler’s home in Tokyo to the sugarcane fields of the Dominican Republic to the halls of Fabrica, the Benetton-owned creative lab for young talent in Treviso, Italy. But he probably wouldn’t have gotten to any of those places if he hadn’t faked his way into art school. At 17 and a middling student at a Minneapolis senior high, Young, now 27, borrowed a photography portfolio from a friend and was accepted into his hometown’s prestigious Perpich Center for Arts Education on its merits. “When I arrived, I think they found it a bit strange that I didn’t know the difference between an aperture and a shutter speed,” he says.

  12. 02.22.10
    The Making Of
    The Book Club, by Shai Akram and Andrew Haythornthwaite

    As if they didn’t have enough to cry about, London’s young bankers lost a favorite watering hole this year — the seminal Shoreditch nightclub Home, which had lost most of its hipster cachet since it opened in 1997. When local designers Andrew Haythornthwaite and Shai Akram were invited to help transform the space into The Book Club — where the activities include not just eating, drinking, and dancing but also more cerebral pursuits like poetry, storytelling, and workshops — it was a delicate transition. “We didn’t want it to feel like a brand-new bar,” says Haythornthwaite. “We wanted it to be one of those places that seems like it’s always been there but you just haven’t noticed it.”

  13. 02.16.10
    The Making Of
    Urban Daily Life by Reineke Otten

    When Reineke Otten visits a new city, it feels a bit like looking at Richard Scarry’s children’s books, their pages crammed with the minutiae of daily life. As a “streetologist,” her job is to scrutinize the often mundane details of places like Paris or Dubai, photographing dozens of window shades, doorbells, and flea market stalls until she’s put together a revealing portrait of the local culture. Though most of Otten’s clients pay her for her sleuthing skills, her new website Urban Daily Life offers the rest of us a glimpse into what it’s like to see the world through a magnifying glass.

  14. 01.29.10
    The Making Of
    Sarah Illenberger’s 3-D Illustrations

    When Sarah Illenberger picks up the phone, the first thing she does is apologize: There’s a loud, repetitive popping noise going off in the background of her Berlin studio, which turns out to be the firing of a staple gun. She doesn’t say what her assistants are constructing with the staples, but judging from her past illustration work, it’s likely they’ll be built up by the thousands onto a substrate until their glinting mass reveals some kind of representational image — a skyscraper, maybe, or a ball of tinfoil. Almost all of Illenberger’s work involves using handicraft to manipulate one thing into looking like something else entirely, and almost all of it entails such a meticulous construction process that there’s no time to silence it for interviews.

  15. 01.15.10
    The Making of
    The Rosshaar Mattress by Daniel Heer

    From birth, Daniel Heer was groomed to take over his family’s leather- and mattress-making business. He learned the necessary skills early on, honing them through an adolescence spent at the Heer workshop in Lucerne, Switzerland, watching his father and grandfather work. His post-secondary education focused on one thing and one thing only: how to ply his trade. And then when he moved to Berlin at age 20, he left it all behind.

  16. 01.11.10
    The Making of
    The Linz Stool by Thomas Feichtner

    You don’t have to stare at Thomas Feichtner’s work for very long to detect a theme — facets and folds everywhere, on desk lamps, chairs, teapots, even a set of futuristic cutlery. Rather than imparting severity, though, the lines are a more artful alternative to minimalism: “I think things should work properly,” says the Austrian designer, “but do they really need to look like it?”

  17. 12.16.09
    The Making of
    Ten to One, by Sylvie Zijlmans & Hewald Jongenelis

    It’s not so inconceivable that a painting or sculpture would take years to complete, accumulating layers of meaning as the artist played with contour or color. But a photograph? Dutch husband-and-wife duo Sylvie Zijlmans and Hewald Jongenelis spent nearly four years on Ten to One, a large-scale photograph on view now at Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

  18. 12.02.09
    The Making of
    Moulding Tradition by Formafantasma

    It sounds like the start of a lame joke: Did you hear the one about the Moor and the Sicilian? But for Moulding Tradition, Formafantasma’s Design Academy Eindhoven thesis project, the Italian-born, Eindhoven-based duo did in fact look to a centuries-old conflict between Sicily and the North Africans who once conquered the tiny island and who now arrive there in droves, seeking refuge.

  19. 11.23.09
    The Making of
    The Mounted Life by Danielle Van Ark

    It started with a dead hamster. In the late ’90s, Dutch photographer Danielle Van Ark was living in Rotterdam, reacquainting herself with the charms of the grain-eating, wheel-chasing starter pet. Her hamster expired right around the time the Beastie Boys were coming out with a single called “Intergalactic”. “The cover of that single was basically a giant hamster attacking humanity, and it inspired me to have my hamster stuffed,” Van Ark says. “I found someone in a village near Rotterdam who does it, and I loved the place instantly.”